Absorption of EU funds picks up, meets goal

The government said yesterday it has met its 2010 goal in absorbing European Union funding crucial to boosting sagging investment activity and plans to further accelerate the rate at which it uses the money this year. The Regional, Development and Competitiveness Ministry said that it boosted absorption of the 2007-2012 EU package to 18 percent, beating the 17.5 percent target set for the year. «The 17.5 percent target reflects an inflow of 2.75 billion euros and a total amount of co-funded public spending reaching 3.71 billion euros for the year,» the ministry said in a statement The EU’s 2007-2013 funding program for Greece, referred to as ESPA, has a 26.2 billion euros budget and aims at financing major infrastructure projects. The funds, however, have remained largely untapped due to red tape and a requirement that the goverment funds an average of 25 to 30 percent of each project. For 2011, the ministry has doubled the absorption rate target to 35 percent, added the statement. Greece’s public investment program, budgeted at 8.5 billion euros for 2011, representing 3.7 percent of annual economic output, is heavily supported by EU funding.