Brussels satisfied Greece will absorb all 08 funds

BRUSSELS – Greece is certain to reach an absorption rate of 100 percent of European Union funds by the end of the year, Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Huebner said yesterday, stating that the rate for the Third Community Support Framework has already reached 84 percent. Huebner, who is due to visit Thessaloniki tomorrow for the presentation of the next European Union-sponsored Community Support Framework (CSF) for 2007-2013, noted that Greece is entitled to submit applications for payment up to December 31, 2008, and that given the good progress achieved it is very likely that there will be no loss of funds at all. The Commissioner appeared less optimistic about Cohesion Fund aid, whose absorption rate today stands at 65 percent, but at least the deadline for payment applications is the end of 2009, so losses can still be minimized. In Thessaloniki Huebner is expected to present the priorities of the next funding period and the National Strategic Reference Framework, as the next CSF is officially named. Yesterday she said in Brussels that the three main pillars of the framework for Greece are the promotion of research and development of new technologies and products, the country’s complete harmonization with all aspects of environmental legislation and the completion of the major transportation projects. The German commissioner made special reference to the healing of the wounds caused by last August’s devastating forest fires, saying that the EU contribution will reach -90 million. The total damage is estimated at -2.1 billion. She also announced that the EU has accepted a request for a one-year extension for the absorption of community funds in specific projects and regions hit by the fires, as well as the transfer of resources between projects of the same program. In Thessaloniki Huebner will also meet with Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and ministers from other countries of Southeast Europe.