Greece has a solid and reliable recovery and resilience plan that can meaningfully strengthen it in the face of future challenges, Siegfried Muresan, Chairman of the Working Group for Budget and Structural Policies, said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA).
Referring to the Greek Recovery and Resilience Facility, he said that it stands out for its alignment with the country’s needs, demonstrating the government’s excellent strategy in utilising the funds.
The RRF was created to help people, enterprises, regions, to overcome the pandemic, build a stronger economy, more resilient public sectors. The implementation of this program goes very well. So far, 27 countries have had their national plans approved, 21 have received prefinancing, and some member states have already received two or three rounds of disbursements.
The full interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency and Chrisostomos Bikatzik follows:
As I read in your introductory note for the conference: “The EU Recovery and Resilience Facility is a key instrument for recovering from the post-pandemic crisis, as well as facing the impact of the Russian war against Ukraine and modernising our economies”. As Chairman of the Working Group for Budget and Structural Policies, who monitors its development in all Member States, what is the overall situation? Is the implementation of national plans progressing?”
Immediately after the beginning of the pandemic, we launched the biggest package of economic support ever seen before at European level: the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The RRF was created to help people, enterprises, regions, to overcome the pandemic, build a stronger economy, more resilient public sectors. The implementation of this program goes very well. So far, 27 countries have had their national plans approved, 21 have received prefinancing, and some member states have already received two or three rounds of disbursements. Member states are clearly making use of this. They understand that this is a fund to modernise their economies, to make them greener, cleaner, more digital. Greece serves as a prime example in this respect, with 15 billion euros having already been absorbed.
In particular, what do you think about the recovery and resilience plan submitted by Greece?
The Greek Recovery and Resilience Facility stands out for its alignment with the country’s needs, demonstrating the Government’s excellent strategy in utilising the funds.
The plan places a strong emphasis on the green transition, with investments in energy efficiency for residences, reforestation initiatives, and fire prevention actions, demonstrating a commitment to environmental sustainability. Additionally, the support for digital transition through investments in public administration, connectivity, and digital skills, along with initiatives like providing vouchers to SMEs and vocational training for refugees, highlights a forward-looking and inclusive approach that addresses the digital and social needs of the Greek society.
This is why I can say that the Greek government has elaborated a very good plan. Greece has a solid and reliable recovery and resilience plan that can meaningfully strengthen Greece’s in the face of future challenges.
How do you judge the measures proposed and launched by the European Commission for Europe’s recovery so far? Are there areas where these measures must be enhanced?
It was the initiative of the European Parliament to direct money from the RRF into 6 directions: 1.Greening: more than 1/3 of the money is supposed to go into projects that reduce CO2 emissions, reduce pollution, make us more energy intensive, and facilitate the transition to the green economy; 2.More than 20% of the money that goes into the digital sector; 3. We have a special pillar for supporting the industry, SMEs, in view of making our economy more competitive; 4. We also have a pillar for the social territorial cohesion 5. A pillar for youth and education; 6. A pillar for public entities, especially including modernising and enlarging existing hospitals, building new hospitals.
We believe that these priorities, defined during the pandemic, continue to be the right priorities. All governments that will allocate money into these 6 areas will be able to strengthen their economies, make their public administration more resilient, closer to the citizen, more digital.
We must continue preparing these priorities in order to be strong in the face of any other future crises.
Are you concerned about the rise of supporters of extremist policies and politicians in all Member States and whether this will be “ recorded” in the European elections in June?
The rise of extremism is a danger because extremists, populists, ultranationalists have no solution to people’s problems. We have seen the negative consequences of a populistic government under PM Tsipras in Greece.
I believe that the citizens of Europe will understand, up to election day, that the best recipe against extremists is to vote responsible, European, center-right parties, which have real solutions for the people of Europe. I believe that the EPP, at European level, and Nea Demokratia in Greece, will win the European elections. We will continue to lead at European level and work with the responsible pro-European forces. Extremists have been isolated in the Parliament and I believe they will not be much larger in size and for sure not bigger in terms of political importance. They are isolated and divided.
And one last question that young people mainly ask: Why should I go and vote in the European elections? After all, decisions will be taken by governments and European politicians…
Many decisions are taken by governments and European politicians. But they are the politicians chosen by the citizens, by the young people.
The European Parliament is the only European institution whose members are directly elected by European citizens. For this reason, the Parliament is also called the voice of the citizens. It is very important that people go to the European elections and vote in an informed manner. They should vote for those candidates who represent their interests, who are prepared to fight for their rights at the European level, and who fit the profile of a capable MEP.
At no moment should we say that our vote is useless, because it is not. Every vote is important. So, my advice for young people is: get informed and go vote. It is your vote that can make the difference. Young people should be the most interested in voting because they will live the longest with the consequences of today’s decisions made by politicians.
Elections, and especially exercising the right to vote, have a very high stake: the candidates who win certain positions will represent us at the European level for the next 5 years, will adopt European legislation, and will make decisions that will affect our lives. For this reason, we cannot let other people choose for us; we must make these choices ourselves.