Great success with over 400 participants in the KEDE’s conference for the National Plan for Sustainability and Development “Greece 2.0” Dimitris Papastergiou – President of KEDE: Only with the active participation of the Local Government we will achieve the national goal,to use for the benefit of the country, the resources of the Recovery Fund – The Local Government participates actively in the planning of Greece’s future.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 21, 2021, was successfully completed, with a large participation of Mayors and local elected officials from all over Greece, the information day organized by the Central Union of Greek Municipalities, in the context of the acceleration of procedures and information on all aspects of the National Plan for Sustainability and Development, “Greece 2.0”.The on line Conference was attended by 300 Mayors and many local elected officials.The meeting was presented by the Minister of Interior, Makis Voridis, the Deputy Minister of Interior, Stelios Petsas, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Theodoros Skylakakis, the Deputy Minister of Finance, the Minister of Interior, Makis Voridis, Investment, Ioannis Tsakiris and the General Secretary of Infrastructure, George Karagiannis.The web day was attended by 300 Mayors and many elected officials of the Local Government.The meeting was attended, by presenting the content of the Program, as well as the new NSRF and the program A. Tritsis, the Minister of Interior, Makis Voridis, the Deputy Minister of Interior, Stelios Petsas, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Theodoros Skylakakis, the Deputy Minister of Development and Investment, Ioannis Tsakiris and the General Secretary of Infrastructure, George Karagiannis.The Conference is the first of many information and action initiatives, that will be organized in the next period by KEDE, in the effort undertaken by its Administrative Council to bring the municipalities closer to the government, so that there is a fruitful dialogue and a substantial information on to the possibilities offered by the utilization of the resources that will be available, in order to be utilized by all the municipalities, regardless of their size. Local Government with an active role in the design and implementation of financial programs.
Welcoming the participants in the meeting, the President of the Central Union of Greek Municipalities, Dimitris Papastergiou, spoke about “Greece 2.0”, which is the Greece that the Local Government envisions, with projects of substance and not a showcase, which will leave their mark for many years on local communities and the Greek economy and development, with an upgraded role in the planning and implementation of important projects of the Recovery Fund.
From the summer of 2020, KEDE submitted proposals
The Central Union of Greek Municipalities since August 2020 has proposed specific interventions and projects that are realistic, feasible and costed, which can contribute to the substantial and long-term development of the national and local economy. It has proposed horizontal actions aimed at addressing the problems created in the economy by the pandemic, but also the alleviation of intra-regional disparities and decentralization.
It has proposed projects aimed at sustainability, the environment, smart cities. And this shows that the Government must trust the Local Government, which must have a role and a say in the planning of the program.
Mr. Papastergiou stressed that probably the biggest issue we have to face is the technical assistance for the maturation of the studies, mainly in the small Municipalities, as this will be a key factor of success of this program, as well as other financial tools.
This, in combination with the reinforcement of the staff of the Municipalities that due to mobility are still being reduced by specialized and trained staff.
Mr. Papastergiou thanked the Ministers and Government officials for their cooperation and participation in the meeting and of course the 300 Mayors and municipal councilors who attended.
Statement by the President of KEDE, Dimitris Papastergiou: The Recovery Fund is a great opportunity to change the country.
Today we open the conversation for the next day of Local Government but also for the future of our country for the next decades. We are at a crossroads. In front of us we have the “Antonis Tritsis”, very promising, with a large but specific budget but at the same time the Recovery Fund, opens a new window that will fill the gaps that inevitably exist. And then there is the new Programming Period of the NSRF. KEDE and the Municipalities, after we have balanced the data with the pandemic, we take the initiative, together with the competent ministries, to give a note of optimism, talking about something bigger and more substantial. We pointed out the problems that exist in “Antonis Tritsis” in our recent Administrative Council. But the Recovery Fund is the biggest, perhaps the last big opportunity for the Local Government. We need to see how we can use the resources we have. It is important not only to see what these resources are, but together with the co-responsible Ministers and Government officials, to see how the Municipalities should be prepared so that not a single euro is lost. We have to see which projects that will actually be left out of “Antonis Tritsis”, will be able and how to be included in the Recovery Fund. The need for projects in local communities has exceeded proposals worth 3 billions. The Recovery Fund creates a new Greece, in which the Local Government can and must play an active role.
The projects that concern us in general, are the following:
* Energy upgrade of buildings and street lighting
* Regenerations – But we must know which ones and in what amounts? Which projects are named and how much money is left unavailable to submit new proposals?
* What about water supply and sewerage projects – emblematic or not?
* What will happen to smart cities – We know that a large part of the Recovery Fund will be targeted at green and smart city projects.
* What will happen to road safety projects and road improvement projects in our cities – especially after the infrastructure projects that will run during this time?
* How and when will the Local Urban Plans run, which we know will be financed by the Recovery Fund?
* Which municipal health structures and pre-school education structures can be funded?
* Partnerships for new business parks
We also need to know how the Recovery Fund will work in relation to the New Programming Period, a New Programming Period in which Local Government should no longer be merely an observer. Municipalities cannot participate only formally in the Monitoring Committees. If we want to achieve more, we must participate in policy planning teams, run independent actions for smart cities, Integrated Spatial Investments and Sustainable Urban Development.
Finally, there should be provision for rural road construction projects but also expropriations for public and public spaces.
Minister of Interior, Makis Voridis
The Minister of Interior Makis Voridis made extensive reference to the projects of the Ministry of Interior that have been included for funding in the Recovery Fund and that directly or indirectly concern the Local Government.
Specifically, he pointed out the following:
- Multilevel governance: The establishment and operation of a permanent structure which on a stable and permanent basis will evaluate the responsibilities, who exercises them and how effectively he exercises them.
- Installation and operation of a technical intelligence base for recruitment. It will be a permanent mechanism that will measure the needs and in cooperation with ASEP will take care of their fast and efficient processing.
- Digitization of ASEP
- Utilization of skills of human resources in the public sector with a new tool that will detect the skills of staff to be placed in the appropriate positions
- Creating a reward mechanism and effective management and achievement of goals.
The Minister of Interior, referring to the absorption of the necessary resources from the Recovery Fund, noted that everyone must be committed so that not the slightest amount is left unexploited and opportunities are not lost.
Regarding the planning of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Voridis announced that:
First, immediately after Easter, the draft law on elections in the Local Government will be ready.
Secondly, that the ministry promotes directly the abolition of the dormant legal entities and institutions of the municipalities.
Thirdly, that by June the issues of control of the legitimacy of the Local Authorities will be clarified, while the issues regarding the statutory position of the elected in the Local Government will be examined.
Fourthly, the multi-level governance, which, as he noted, should be the subject of wider planning, will be discussed in order to be addressed by June. Finally, Mr. Voridis announced the drafting of the Code of Local Government.
Deputy Minister of Interior, Stelios Petsas
“I consider that today’s Conference of KEDE is a good occasion because in the coming days specialized discussions will begin with the officials of the other co-competent ministries and especially of the Ministry of Finance so that we can use this financial tool. The final approval from the European Commission is pending but we are optimistic that we will be able to use many resources for the first and second degree local authorities from the Recovery Fund “, said the Deputy Minister of Interior, Stelios Petsas.
Mr. Petsas stressed that it is a great opportunity to have the possibility to use financial tools such as the Recovery Fund and bring them together with other tools such as the NSRF and “Antonis Tritsis” and so we have a palette that we can develop to have the best possible result socially and developmentally for the local community at the level of Municipalities.
The Deputy Minister pointed out that the Recovery Fund has basic axes from which we can draw resources at the level of Municipalities and at the level of Regions in addition to the Ministries. These resources were about 3.2 billion Euros and some were committed to major projects to be done locally, such as urban regeneration, sewage or water supply projects. However, there are also free resources that concern the road network for green-urban regeneration but also for water supply / wastewater. So we can find resources to include either new projects with a high degree of maturity or projects that will have been included in other financial instruments, such as “Antonis Tritsis” and could be transferred for funding from the Recovery Fund. We are in communication and cooperation with the other competent Ministries to see how much money can be raised from the Recovery Fund.
Today there are projects included in Philodimos 1 that absorb a large part of “Antonis Tritsis” but also projects that will be included in the program that can be transferred to the Recovery Fund. We have already discussed road network and urban regeneration issues. Our cooperation with the other Ministries will transfer projects amounting to approximately 200 million Euros from Antonis Tritsis. We will also be able to raise a corresponding amount from the Recovery Fund. Our goal, however, is not to lose a single euro from the Recovery Fund for the benefit of the Greek economy.
Mr. Petsas called on the Municipalities to mobilize so that mature projects that perhaps due to the ceiling would not fit in Antonis Tritsis or would not be ready by the deadline (31/5), to join the Recovery Fund.
The coming months are a bet for projects to be transferred or mature projects to be included in the Recovery Fund, concluded Mr. Petsas.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Theodoros Skylakakis
The presentation of “Greece 2.0” by the Deputy Minister of Finance Th. Skylakakis, at the Conference of KEDE opened the discussion on how the program will affect Local Government.
Mr. Skylakakis, referring to the structure, goals and limitations of the program, noted that most projects are closed, pre-determined and with a high maturity of studies and start immediately. He also noted that of the 57 billion Euros mobilized by this project, 40-43 billion Euros are for mature private investments. The significance of these investments, he said, is that when they occur in specific areas they will bring hundreds of thousands of jobs. Therefore, he stressed, the role of Local Government is very large and concerns the reception and hosting of these investments.
Regarding the open projects, ie projects and programs that have a local character and the Local Government is directly or indirectly involved and in which it can participate, Mr. Skylakakis said that their detailed presentation will take place next quarter and that it is for the following:
As far as open projects, that is, projects and programs that they have
- Underground networks in urban and some forest areas.
- The public program “Energy Efficiency at Home” concerning energy upgrading projects of buildings and street lighting, the subsidy of which will be done only with the condition of participation of the resources of a private body. The amount available amounts to 200 million Euros while the savings are estimated to be in the order of 600 million Euros
- Strategic urban regeneration, some of which are named, such as Eleonas. The integration of the renovations has as a precondition that they have a developmental character.
- Water supply, drinking water saving, irrigation, sewerage, flood control, biodiversity protection, fire protection projects, but further discussion is needed.
- Urban planning plans, which involve all municipalities and will include special urban planning and demarcation of settlements.
- Digital projects that will reach the municipalities as well.
- The “smart cities”, but the program concerns some municipalities, about ten to twenty
- Projects for renovations of municipal health structures
- Child protection projects with the creation of kindergartens and nurseries.
- Road intervention projects to improve road safety.
- Business parks in collaboration with individuals.
Regarding the project announcements, Mr. Skylakakis said that regarding the closed projects, the announcements will be made earlier, while for the open ones, consultations will take place until the approval of the Plan and then the announcements will be issued by the ministries.
Regarding the technical assistance in small municipalities, he stated that the projects themselves include the technical assistance – costs of study maturation. In addition, the Recovery Fund itself will make an active promotion and monitoring in each ministry. In case of delays he will have his own advisory and design forces in order to intervene.
Deputy Minister of Development and Investment, Ioannis Tsakiris
Recovery Fund and NSRF are complementary tools, additional resources, as said the Deputy Minister of Development and Investment Ioannis Tsakiris and added that “the goal is to invest both in the Greek economy for the next 7 years, as long as the NSRF lasts, so that we have the maximum added value at the level of infrastructure, market, society, citizens. ”
Regarding the new NSRF, he pointed out that the Ministry of Development and Investment and the European Commission have entered the final stretch to close the program and sign an agreement, stating that he believes that after the summer its first actions can begin.
The new NSRF, as Mr. Tsakiris said, is higher than the previous one and together with the national participation is around 26 billion Euros, with five policy goals:
1 Smarter Europe, at European level, smarter Greece at national level, and it concerns smart economic transformation, competitiveness, innovation. European Community assistance EUR 4 billion.
2 Green Transition. European Community assistance EUR 5 billion.
3 Interconnection both in terms of data and infrastructure. European Community assistance EUR 2.2 billion.
4 Social part. European Community assistance € 6.3 billion.
5 Development of urban, rural and coastal areas. European Community assistance 1.14 billion Euros.
There is also the specific objective of the Just Transition Fund concerning the de-lignification. European Community assistance 1.3 billion Euros.
Mr. Tsakiris said that the new NSRF is also divided into sectoral and regional programs. “Its basic architectural structure does not change, but the goals, the eligibility change.”
The architecture in terms of regional and sectoral programs continues to be the same, some small changes in the sectoral and more funds in the regional. The 1/3 of the new NSRF will be for actions funded in the regions, pointing out that, in this part, the Municipalities have to play a very important role.
Speaking also about the NSRF in general, he pointed out that in Greece we have lagged behind because in several programming periods we did not have the speed of transition, and we see things that we want to do now that they are not eligible for the NSRF. (E.g. solid waste, natural gas).
Emphasizing that the design is very correct, that the proposals are very good, he identified the problem in the implementation. And he urged the municipalities to strengthen their capacity in order to implement projects.
Therefore, he added, the new NSRF will be more difficult than the old one as we continue to lag behind the policy set by the European Commission. “Nevertheless, with the old NSRF we have made a huge effort, the absorption is very high. Yesterday’s data has to do with the absorption of all Community funds, except for agriculture and some other small ones, we are 4th in the whole EU, when at some time, we were 11th and 12th “.
The next NSRF in terms of philosophy and strategy will not have enclosed areas, enclosed amounts, we will try the projects that are more mature, to be included faster, to be done faster and to be paid faster.
General Secretary of Infrastructure, George Karagiannis
I am impressed to see 300 local government officials attending this Conference, said the General Secretary of Infrastructure, George Karagiannis, speaking at the KEDE’s Conference and stressed: I want you to know that the Minister, Costas Karamanlis and I are on your side to make projects that can improve lives in the municipalities and have a multiplier effect on their development. Greece went back with the pandemic but now we are ready, after the instruction of the Prime Minister, for the program of the Recovery Fund and other financial instruments, such as the new NSRF, the program and PPPs, which will make the Greek economy restart. Your role, the role of the local authorities is very important. We need to work together on projects and licensing. The projects of the Ministry of Infrastructure will work for your citizens. Mr. Karagiannis referred to named projects that will be specialized in the near future and stressed that in the coming years there will be 70 billion Euros to be absorbed that we must work together to absorb them overcoming pathogens of the past.
He referred to the major road projects such as North roadway of Crete and E65, major flood protection projects throughout Greece, plumbing projects, the Suburbs of West Attica, road safety projects and digital transformation projects of the country’s infrastructure and airport upgrades. Especially for road safety, he said that there are projects amounting to 450 million Euros that in the next period will start, while another 250 million Euros from the Recovery Fund will be projects in cooperation with the Municipalities to have an active role in naming projects. The goal is to absorb all available resources.
Mr. Karagiannis stressed that the new law on public procurement will contribute to the acceleration of procedures for the Municipalities and thanked KEDE and its President for the close cooperation and the proposals submitted.