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Speech by Commissioner Elisa Ferreira (video message) for the Annual Congress 2022 of the Association of Greek Regions (ENPE)

Speech given recently (25 November 2022) by Commissioner Elisa Ferreira (video message) for the Annual Congress 2022 of the Association of Greek Regions (ENPE).

“Check against delivery"

Good afternoon and congratulations to everyone who has worked on the new Greek Partnership Agreement and the new Greek Cohesion Programmes.

As you know, Greece was first among all the EU Member States in getting its Partnership Agreement adopted. And your national and regional programmes quickly followed suit.

Greece has also been extremely efficient in using our REACT-EU investments which resulted from a quick and appropriate response by the European Union to support your health system and your business sector against the shock of the pandemic.

Small and medium sized companies received crucial support, jobs were preserved and now Greece is achieving impressive growth rates.

This underlines the importance of European investment in Greece.

But there is work to be done. The 8th Cohesion Report, published earlier this year, found that several Greek regions still lag behind, and some are even caught in a middle income trap.

We now have a window of opportunity and a responsibility to revert the situation and ensure a more balanced territorial development. Let us use it to the full. The opportunity of exceptional levels of European investment, the opportunity of your EPSA strategic framework, the opportunity of one third of Cohesion investments destined to the regional level.

To make the most of it, I urge you to keep the pace and charge ahead.

First, by rising to the challenges of the green and digital transition.

You have made plans to strengthen digital connectivity, and the uptake of digital technology by business and government. I urge you to move forward on these plans.

Several Greek regions are still emissions hotspots for greenhouse gasses.

So, I urge you to move forward, through the Just Transition Programmes and mainstream Cohesion Policy to help these regions prepare for the zero-carbon economy.

The current energy crisis made the transition to green economy even more important. We have the means, the know-how and the technology to do it. Let's not delay!

Second, let's use innovative tools. I welcome the results of the previous period where you invested in 50,000 SMEs with financial instruments. I am looking forward to hearing more good results as Greece uses seed capital, equity, loans and guarantees, to support start-ups, to help expand businesses, and to facilitate their green transformation.

Third, move rapidly to implementation. Greece has done well implementing most of the funds of the 2014-2020programmes. But I urge you to make a special effort to get the new programmes off to a flying start. And soon. Especially local development and the Integrated Territorial Investment Strategies, which experienced considerable delay in the previous period.

Dear regions of Greece, I will conclude with a reminder that you are the motor of our policy. The success of the policy relies on the efforts and energy of local authorities, local programmes and local people.

And in Greece you have the momentum. Momentum in preparing programmes. Momentum in planning for the green and digital transition. Momentum in using financial instruments.

I call on you to keep it up. To prepare quality projects and get local development initiatives moving. So that at the end of this new programme period, we have even more good things to report from the regions of Greece.

I wish you a fruitful discussion!


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