The European Community Program 2014-2020, which was extended until 2022, is now a thing of the past. Now is the time of reckoning. Brussels will soon reach its conclusions and present them. We have been following the course and development of this program and will be presenting some of the facts regarding projects that have been financed by the European Community Program 2014-2020 below.
Mature projects have been integrated with long delays. For the most part, the institutions, mainly state and local authorities, which had not prepared the necessary technical and economic studies in time and had not obtained the permits required by the current legislation, were responsible. Many bodies, mainly local authorities, imagined that with just a project title and a brief cover letter they would win the coveted funding for a project important to their region and its inhabitants. When they realised their delusion, they discovered that the time had advanced significantly and that the remaining time until the end of the program was simply not enough. Thus, their ambitions remained unfulfilled.
The projects included and financed by the European Community Program 2014-2020 required a standard fulfillment of conditions, but in many of them the content of the actions necessary to be undertaken was precarious and uncertain. Dealing with the problems that arose was at best time-consuming and poorly-coordinated, resulting in additional delays. The Technical Assistance foreseen by the legislation of the European Union, and generously financed by the departments responsible for monitoring the implementation of each project, in practice made little contribution.
In the grid of phases from financing to awarding a contract, although the timeframe had been limited by recent legislation, the increased rights of the tenderers to submit objections prolonged the finalisation of the procedures until the signing of the contracts with the successful bidders.
The main problems, however, concerned the implementation phase of the projects, whether they were technical or societal. The limited possibilities for the timely development of the planned phases, due to the limited human and technical resources of many of the project contractors, resulted in new delays as well as shortcomings in the practical implementation of the contractual obligations of the successful bidders.
In practice, the ability to exercise effective supervision during the execution of the projects was also limited, as was the ability to prevent any deviations from the provisions of the contract articles and timely undo any failures. The relaxed legislation regarding the treatment of any bad workmanship, or, more generally, deviations from the contractual obligations, led to a looser implementation of the content of the contracts, which ultimately resulted in a loose approach to the intended goals for the execution of the projects. In particular, the amortisation of contractual obligations for good performance, and the automatic final acceptance of projects as well performed in a short time, increased the slack during the execution phases.
Finally, the web of deviations from rationality is sealed by the “anguish” of the political heads of the departments or services responsible for promoting Community Programs to show absorption of the relevant credits allocated by the European Union. The absorption of the funds is an apparent reinforcement of these agencies’ political profile, as being active in promoting projects to be implemented. But this is not what society and citizens want. The question is the essential efficiency of the projects, what people call “making the money work”. We believe that this can be achieved if the conditions are created for addressing the problems mentioned above, both at the legislative level and at the level of planning and execution of the projects, by the competent agencies and services. It is a pity that the huge funding from the many European Community Support Frameworks that have been implemented in the country from 1980 until today have produced much smaller results than expected. Improving the efficiency of Εuropean Community funding will also bring about improvements at the qualitative level, since it will significantly limit the corruption and illegal practices that appear prominently in the financial indicators of international rating agencies.
In our region, Mani, the aforementioned pathogens, during the implementation of the few European Community Programs allocated to the region, have a magnified form. The main reason for this is that our region is far away from the control and supervision centers, but also has limited local supervision possibilities. These causes and the limited capacity to draw up public investment proposals in full are responsible for the strong lag of public investment compared with that promoted by the private sector. Let us hope that the local human resources will collaborate and focus their efforts on reversing these negatives in the near future.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD