Greece: Achievements and developments in the field of Structural and Cohesion Funds

The 4th Quarterly Report of the Task Force for Greece highlights the main achievements and developments in the field of Structural and Cohesion Funds.:

  • The absorption target for 2012 was reached to a level of 87,3%. No funds have been decommitted in 2012, but there is a risk of decommitment in 2013;
  • In March 2013 the absorption rate stood at 56,1% ;
  • Projects concerning entrepreneurship have the highest absorption rate (75%).  Spending on environmental projects is low (15%);
  • The number of sleeping projects was reduced by half;
  • The deadline for closing projects from the previous programming period was extended until 31 December 2013.
  • 15 out of 181 priority projects have been completed, 86 are under implementation and on track, 70 projects need to be accelerated, 15 projects are unlikely to be concluded, 1 project has been cancelled.

The following abstracts are taken from the original report of the Task Force for Greece:

'Absorption for the 2007-2013 period

'The absorption target in the MoU for 2012 was EUR 3.73 billion. By end-2012, absorption reached EUR 3.25 billion, representing 87.3% of the target. Performance improved markedly in the second half of the year, amounting to 101.8% against the target. This compared with 57.8% of the target for the first half of the year. All programmes met the N+3 decommitment targets at the end of the year.

The MoU and N+2/N+3 targets for 2013 are the same and are especially challenging, requiring an overall absorption of EUR 3.89 billion or EUR 4.18 billion total public expenditure when the required Greek national co-financing is taken into account. Several programmes are at risk of missing the automatic decommitment targets.

The rate of absorption for the three Funds (Cohesion Fund, European Social Funds and European Regional Development Funds) in March 2013 rose to 56.1% of the available public budget (EUR 20.2 billion). The rate for ERDF has reached 60.6%, only three percentage points behind the Member States with the highest absorption. At 46.3% the rate for ESF places Greece "behind" two thirds of the Member States.

In term of thematic objectives, projects concerning entrepreneurship registered the highest rate of absorption (i.e. 75% of the approved budget). Projects concerning RTD and ICT in general are at around 25% absorption, whereas environmental projects are below 15% absorption. Projects concerning the labour market have significant absorption (i.e. 45%), followed by HR project at 35% absorption. In terms of support for infrastructures, energy leads with 53% absorption, followed by railways (44%), roads (34%) and broadband network (16%).

"Sleeping projects": these are projects which have no tendering agreement six months after being approved. By July 2012, 924 projects were inactive, with a total budget of EUR 2.365,5 million. By using active measures to either reinvigorate or close such projects, by January 2013, the number of sleeping projects was reduced to 467, with a total budget of EUR 1.111,5 million.

"Sleeping contracts": As of January 2013, the number of projects approved under the NSRF was 12.694, of which 64.3% are contracted. Amongst these contracted projects,1.235 has made no payments. In the NSRF, there are 759 projects which have made no payments within 6 months of contract signature (defined as "sleeping contracts"), with a total budget of EUR593 million. The distribution of "sleeping contracts" per fund is as follows: ERDF EUR263 million; ESF EUR 184 million and Cohesion Fund EUR 145 million. The value of contracts signed between 2007 and 2011 which have made no payments is EUR232 million. It is important that the monitoring and active management of both "sleeping projects" and "sleeping contracts" continues to be done on systematic basis so that funds can be recycled into productive projects.

Clearing the backlog from the previous programming period

Concerning the 2000-2006 programming period (all funds), 1205 projects were still incomplete at the "closure" of the operational programmes. This entailed the risk of recovery of a maximum of some EUR 3.3 billion of payments for all projects. The total amount of national financing needed to complete these unfinished projects was estimated at approximately EUR 262 million.

All unfinished projects were scheduled for completion by 31 March 2013. At that deadline, the amount at risk of recovery was around EUR 68 million. However, on March 8 2013 the European Commission extended the deadline for completion of these projects to 31st December 2013. This will allow the relevant Greek authorities to reduce substantially the number of unfinished projects.

Priority projects

At the beginning of March 2013, 15 out of 181 priority projects have been completed (total co financed budget EUR 177million). 86 are being implemented on schedule (total co-financed budget EUR 2,581million). 70 projects need to be accelerated (total cofinanced budget EUR 8,370million). 15 projects are unlikely to be concluded (total cofinanced budget EUR 387million), and 1 project was cancelled (co-financed budget EUR 2 million).

Preparation for the 2014-2020 programming period

The on-going preparation of the next programming period represents a unique opportunity to better target structural funds to support of economic recovery and employment. New approaches will be needed to maximise the economic impact of the Structural and Investment Funds package. Discussions started in March with the Greek authorities on developing a significantly streamlined management and control system for the new programming period.'

Read the 4th Quarterly Report of the Task Force for Greece

Source: European Commission