OPINION

Our inability to absorb EU funds

The tremendous delays in the absorption of Third Community Support Framework (CSF III) funding have highlighted, once again, the structural weaknesses of the state apparatus and its inability to live up to the demands of political leadership and the country’s needs. And so, although there are always strenuous negotiations at the European Union’s council summits and we always make a political issue about the level of funding we receive, we invariably discover that we are supremely unable to absorb the funds we receive in their entirety. This is not a phenomenon exclusive to Greece. Most European countries are unable to absorb all EU funding within the specified time frame, but none appear to be as inept as we are. Indeed, it seems that this problem is beyond the control of our successive governments. The fact that the same low level of absorption was recorded when the previous government was in power indicates that the problem stems from the maze of our public services. The 11.3 billion euros that we risk losing from CSF III is money that we desperately need for development. It would be sorely missed from infrastructure works, training and the information society. The government must do all it can, even at the last minute, to curb its losses. But more importantly, it is imperative to locate the holes in the system, the reason behind this permanent shortfall in our absorption of EU funding. We are now faced with yet another Community Support Framework which Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has worked hard to secure for us. It would be a major national misfortune if we were to lose this too because our bureaucracy and the outdated structures of our public sector hinder us from absorbing the 20.1 billion euros we are destined to receive from the EU.