State has failed to use EU aid effectively

Successive governments have absorbed more than 60 billion euros in EU funds over the last 20 years, with most of the money going into infrastructure projects at the expense of more innovative investments, according to a recent study. A report prepared by the Center for Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) showed that a large chunk of the funds – which Greece received between 1986 to 2006 – went to transportation projects, bypassing areas such as training, education and human resources. The money has helped reshape Greece’s transport map, financing major projects such as the Athens International Airport and Egnatia Odos in the country’s north. The EU funds have also helped keep the Greek economy among the outperformers in the bloc but have failed to help reduce stubbornly high jobless rates during the same period. However, a number of transport projects still remain half-finished while the government has failed to implement a quality measurement system on the projects completed. According to experts, Greece is the only EU nation which has failed to effectively monitor its budget spending. The budget situation has prompted a political blame game. The conservative government, elected in March 2004, said the previous PASOK government did a poor job of managing the country’s finances.