“I want to congratulate Greece because not a single euro was lost in the last programming period” stated European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu, addressing the special standing committee of European Issues and the special standing regions committee of the Greek parliament on Wednesday.
“Greece is one of the countries that suffers more from the challenges the EU is currently encountering. For this reason I am very proud and happy to come to Greece as a Commissioner of Regional Policy in order to assist in any possible way. We suggested the co-financing up to 100 percent for Greece and I want to congratulate Greece because all EU funds were fully absorbed in the last period, something that is a very good sign” she added.
Referring to the challenges, she noted that “it is a huge feat and a very difficult one but the EU will succeed” said Cretu and cited Jean Claude Juncker statement that “if we really want it we can have a common bright future, but all together”.
In order this to happen we must close immediately the gap of what the citizens want from EU and of this that can really offer EU” claimed Cretu and noted that EU can’t do miracles if the member stated do not play their own role”.
She underlined the need for all to state their views in the dialogue that will start on the future of the European projects and noted that the national parliament should have a word in order altogether to decide what kind of Europe we want to have from tomorrow and afterwards.
“We must give the citizens the hope to believe in Europe” said Cretu and underlined that the policy of equality, the economic solidarity among the countries constitute a strong reason to believe in Europe. However, she clarified that the cohesion policy can’t, by itself, heal Europe but certainly Europe can’t be healed without the cohesion policy.
The European Commissioner said that the results of the cohesion policy should be visible to the citizens (better road network, better access to the internet, better schools e.t.c) and within this context she referred to infrastructure as the Rio-Antirrio bridge and the Athens metro, stating that she hopes she will visit the Thessaloniki metro by the end of her term.
Cretu informed the members of the parliament that on Thursday she and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will inaugurate the tunnel in Tempi (on Athens-Thessaloniki motorway). “I want to congratulate you because this is an old work that needed over 20 years to be constructed. This shortcut is very good news for all Europe”. She also said that on Friday she will be Thessaloniki and will visit a solid waste plant in western Macedonia to highlight how many things has done and will continue to do in the next years the cohesion policy for Greece.
“We have 20 bln euros on the table for 2020 and with this we will continue to support Greece to continue to lay the foundations of the new social model which will enhance enterpreneurship, exports, research and the innovation and will take the steps for the establishment of a network especially in the remote regions of the country” said Cretu underlining that the broadband network is a huge opportunity for the development of the economic activity in the remote regions.
She estimated that the work of political cohesion will be more effective in Greece if we tackle three major challenges, the crackdown of bureaucracy, the upgrading of the administrative potential and the strengthening of the coordination among the institutions. “This should be your engagement” said Cretu addressing the parliament’s committees and noted that huge simplifications in the procedure are necessary particularly on the land expropriation. She noted there are the funds in EU for works that are pending because the member states do not have the administrative ability to manage them. “Now the money will be here for the cities to use them directly and it is a huge challenge in order high project to be implemented” she stated noting the matter of coordination which is very crucial for all the regions, social partners, government, administration to unite their forces towards the implementation of the works”.
“We do not have the luxury to miss the opportunities” Cretu stressed adding that the next months will be determinative for the future of EU’s future and political cohesion.
Finally, she said that in June she will visit Greek islands plague by the refugees crisis noting that it is important the islanders to be supported.