Before the 2000-2006 programming period, most Member States were rather optimistic regarding the permanence of the positive trends that arose with the emergence of the "new economy" and the stock market boom. The same happened with the Greek CSF. However, recent data shows that developments are not in step with these optimistic assessments. Already from the second quarter of 2001, the European economy found itself in a phase where development rates were dropping, deficits in the public sector were increasing, unemployment rates were rising, the return on capital and investments was low.
Forecasts regarding the Greek economy during the post-Olympic Games period are not as encouraging as before. The compound problem of Greek economic competitiveness, the priorities of the Lisbon and Gothenburg strategies and the obvious turn of European policies towards the objective of productivity and concern for the European industry, pose significant issues for the 2007-2013 period policy guidelines:
n Shifting the focus from infrastructure to actions in favour of entrepreneurship and competitiveness.
n Apart from cases of severe local problems and the completion of the nationwide networks, technical infrastructure must be limited in exchange for entrepreneurship and innovation infrastructure, soft actions and support systems.
n Linking of all national and regional interventions to competitiveness.
n All interventions must be specified on the basis of clear and specific analysis of their role in dealing with crucial challenges: the recent EU enlargement, international competition, the next EU enlargement, interregional competition and new Community policies (e.g. new Common Agricultural Policy).
n Strong emphasis on means of achieving competitiveness, especially regarding regional intervention, both in regions where priority is given to "competitiveness" and in regions where priority is given to "cohesion".
n The problem regarding regional competitiveness is particularly grave. Despite the fact that development discrepancies between regions in Greece are smaller than in many other Member States, many regions are facing significant problems, especially regarding productivity and competitiveness indicators: the per capita gross added value is significantly lower than the national average in 6 out of the 13 regions, the re-investment rate on the GDP is extremely disproportionate in 3 of the regions presenting a high indicator, unemployment rates are particularly high in 5 out of the 13 regions and 60% of all new businesses are established in Attica and 75% in only 2 out of 13 regions.
n Particular emphasis must be placed on policy areas presenting a “deficit” during the previous programming periods, such as:
· Macroeconomic actions: e.g. deregulation of the energy market, privatisation of state enterprises and mergers, development of leading enterprises that have the potential to enter the international market
· "Targeted" interventions: support for SMEs, creation of internationally competitive "development poles" in the regions, emergence of "areas of excellence" in the Greek industry and tourism sector, regaining of the domestic market by SMEs.
n Shaping of a specific long-term development strategy, which will include all sector policies and which will be connected to macroeconomic policies. The strategy must:
· take financial balances into consideration
· assign specific development objectives that are accepted by the whole economy
· take international constraints into consideration
· aim at the revival of the production base, that is, the sectors which receive great outside pressure regarding competitiveness and which, by order of priority, can utilise the comparative advantages and/or develop competitive advantages (industry, linking the primary sector to industry, interlinked services and energy)
· maintain the social equilibrium on which macroeconomic equilibrium is based, hence aiming at full employment, to the extent that this is possible.
n A development strategy oriented towards competitiveness and productivity must be focused, prioritised and cohesive.
n Consequently, the structure of the operational programmes themselves during the next programming period will not necessarily be a repeat of the 3rd CSF model, but they will place particular emphasis on:
· co-operation between the sectors, OPs and ministries
· networking of the regions.