Delays in absorption of EU funds

Despite being in desperate need of European Union structural funds that could help boost growth and employment in Greece, the government is having trouble absorbing more than 1 billion euros because of problems with bureaucracy, staff shortages and lack of planning, Kathimerini has learned.

The European Commission is closely monitoring 181 projects in Greece, for which some 11.5 billion euros will be dispersed. While much of this money is going toward infrastructure schemes, 4.3 billion euros is being allocated through the European Social Fund for projects to help with employment.

However, Kathimerini understands that of these 4.3 billion euros, more than 1.1 billion has not yet been absorbed despite the unemployment rate surpassing 20 percent in November. The schemes are meant to be overseen by the Education and Labor ministries but they are finding it difficult to get the projects off the ground.

The Labor Ministry says that the schemes it is responsible for were to be run by the OAED employment organization, but sources said that it is too weighed down at the moment dealing with the rapidly increasing number of unemployed Greeks. The total figure of Greeks without jobs passed the million mark in November.

As for the Education Ministry, sources said that staff shortages are making it difficult for officials to plan the programs that will absorb the EU structural funds which Brussels has made available.