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1986-2006: TWENTY YEARS OF INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES IN GREECE

 

1986-1993: Mediterranean Integrated Programmes and the 1st Community Support Framework

 

Since the very first year of the country’s accession into the European Union, Greek regions have benefited from a significant inflow of community funds. However, a significant milestone in the history of European Union intervention was the emergence of the Mediterranean Integrated Programmes (MIP). MIPs were the first to set the goal of providing an impetus to the less developed regions of Europe through integrated operational programmes spanning over several years. Seven Mediterranean Integrated Programmes were elaborated in Greece: six regional ones and a thematic one, the MIP on Information Technology.

 

The developmental strategy applied in Greece from 1984 to 1993 (1st CSF) was characterized by a large dispersion of the available funds to small infrastructure projects all over the country. This policy supported economic activity and improved living standards in rural and remote areas. Roads, ports, hospitals, schools, irrigation works, water supply and drainage systems, waste water treatment plants, crop restructuring and improvements in training structures compose the general picture of the interventions carried out. Lacking from this strategy was the promotion of major infrastructure projects, a prerequisite for attracting foreign investment, along with a focus on productivity, quality and sustainable development.

 

The above-mentioned period coincided with a significant milestone in the development policy of the European Community: the radical reform of the Structural Funds (1988) made possible the coordination among Community structural policies, which had remained autonomous up to that point. The new regulations required joint responsibility between national and regional authorities of the member state and the European Community in the programming and implementation stages of co-funded development actions.

 

1994-1999: The 2nd Community Support Framework

 

During the programming period 1994 to 1999, more emphasis was placed on major infrastructure projects of a national character and on connecting Greece to other countries. Without abandoning the pursuit of balanced development, priority was given to the promotion of economic development and the improvement of competitiveness, to the upgrade of the environment and the establishment of better living conditions in urban areas. The main characteristics of the period are: the country’s preparation efforts to enter the Economic and Monetary Union and the commencement of major infrastructure projects of national importance such as Highways (PATHE, Egnatia Odos), port improvements, modernization of the Hellenic Railway Network, the Athens metro, energy projects (wind farms, natural gas), telecommunications infrastructure, hospitals, etc.

 

During this period, the overall improved state of Greek economy, along with the measures for macro-economic stability, the structural changes and the inflow of funds of the 2nd CSF itself, created the preconditions for a more effective performance of the country’s developmental efforts. Nevertheless, the implementation of the 2nd CSF was hindered by a series of problems and malfunctions that rendered the implementation mechanisms inadequate to deal with the increased scale of interventions.  

 

 

2000-2006: The 3rd Community Support Framework

 

The 3rd CSF was designed amidst a very different economic and social setting to that of the previous period:

 

n                    A reduction of inflation and public deficits to the lowest levels in the last 25 years, the ensuing reduction of the cost of money, and the adoption of the EURO in 2001 were the main characteristics of the improvement shown in macro-economic indexes.

 

n                    Implementation of the 2nd CSF had laid the foundations for the modernization of the country’s technical infrastructure, the productive environment and of the labour force skills.

 

n                    Development stakeholders had begun to gradually rid themselves of their protectionist and introverted mentality and exhibited an ever-increasing tendency to adopt the new terms imposed by technological development and the globalisation of economies. 

 

n                    Structural changes in public corporations and organizations, and their opening-up to market forces and competition, served to remove a critical competitiveness restraining factor which stalled improvements in the Greek economy.

 

n                    The entry of Greek companies and products into the Balkan economies and the Black Sea countries followed an accelerated course. Cross-border cooperation improved significantly, especially in relation to energy networks, telecommunications and transport infrastructure.

 

n                    The afore-mentioned developments had greatly increased the profitability of business and created the preconditions for an intensification of private investments but mainly for an improvement in investment venues through the increased participation of private capital.

 

n                    The increased demands placed on implementation structures of the 2nd CSF, resulted in organizational and institutional reforms, primarily in the fields of public works, industrial infrastructure, and the support and training of the labour force.

 

Finally, in 1999 the new Structural Funds regulations formulated a new partnership framework with the European Union, which enforced the adoption of a diversified system of administration and management of the 3rd CSF. This framework involved:

 

n                    A relative distancing of the EU from the programming and project selection processes.

 

n                    A strengthening of the EU monitoring role and the possibility to impose strict penalties for irregularities.

 

n                    A transfer of responsibility for the CSF to the Member State and the obligation of the latter to follow specific and distinct management and monitoring procedures the authority and accountability of which would be assigned to the relevant competent authorities through legislative procedures.

 

n                    The real danger of permanent loss of resources in the case of delays in implementation.

 

In conclusion, the inflow of Community structural funds to Greece, from the country’s accession to this day, has assisted development, has significantly contributed to the restructuring of the Greek economy and has softened the social impacts of adaptation. Since 1996, Greece has continually witnessed a real economic growth which exceeds the European average. The improvement of the country’s general economic state allowed Greece to enter the Eurozone on January 1, 2001.

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