A rush to secure EU funds

After having received 4 billion euros in down payment on the 30.5 billion euros in aid (17.8 billion euros in grants and 12.7 billion euros in loans) provided by the European Union Through the Recovery and Resilience Fund, the government must now show that it is absorbing effectively and stick to the rest of its commitments to receive the next tranche of 3.5 billion euros.

Among other things, a new list of projects to be included in those assisted by the stimulus fund will be published, operating agreements will be signed with European banks and Greek banks will be called upon to participate in the lending process. All of these actions must take place in the next few days.

After speaking with senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, Kathimerini understands that they have three main priorities: to start absorbing available funds; get the ball rolling on loans; and adopt, by the end of September, 13 preconditions set by the European Commission for Greece to receive the tranche of 3.5 billion euros by the end of December.

After the 12 projects that are already starting to be implemented under Greece’s public investment program, the government will announce a new batch of projects in early September.

The first 12 projects, budgeted at 1.42 billion euros, include the completion of the section of the E65 motorway, from Trikala, in central Greece, to the Egnatia motorway, a project budgeted at 480 million euros; local urban planning projects (345.2 million euros), the digitization of title deeds for the National Property Register (242 million euros), the issuance of vouchers to students to purchase laptops and tablets (129.2 million euros), the extension of online public services to citizens (69.4 million euros) and others.

To obtain future loans, the government must sign agreements with the banks. Officials say they will soon sign agreements with the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The call for Greek banks to grant loans will be launched in early September; the government has already hired a private law firm as a consultant.

The prerequisites for securing the next tranche include the above agreements with the EIB and the EBRD, a law facilitating mergers and acquisitions and the creation of an infrastructure for the charging of electric vehicles.

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