ARE THE FORTHCOMING EUROPEAN ELECTIONS ALSO LINKED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF MANI?

Perhaps the title is a bit confusing. On one side, there is the pan-European parliamentary institution, and on the other, our small geographic area. However, a broader view finds connections in several issues. We will attempt to develop these further, starting with some general information.

    Among the European institutions, the European Council (usually at the level of ministers of the member states) and the European Commission (with one representative from each member state appointed by each government) have a dominant and decisive role. The European Parliament participates in the decisions of the two previous institutions, by giving its assent on matters of major importance and economic impact, that go as far as the approval of the President and all members of the European Commission. However, it also intervenes in all matters specified by the Treaties, which constitute the legal basis for the establishment and operation of the European Union, as well as for the main financial funds (the European Regional Development Fund (ΕΤΠΑ), the European Social Fund (ΕΚΤ), the Cohesion Fund (ΤΣ), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (ΕΓΤΑΑ) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (ΕΤΘΑ). These funds are used to finance the Community Support Frameworks (KΠΣ), which initially run for five years, as well as for Community Initiatives. Mani was included in two of these Community Initiatives: Leader II during the 1990s and the Integrated Rural Development Program (OXE) of Mani in the recent five-year period. Projects and works included in these initiatives were funded either from their own budgets or through the inclusion of selected projects and actions in the corresponding Community Support Framework (KΠΣ). We close this paragraph of general information by noting that the integration and financing of projects and works from the Community Support Frameworks are promoted either through the national level, which is managed by the respective ministries, or through the regional level, which is managed by the regions of the country.

    The geophysical, climatic, and cultural characteristics of Mani create by themselves a dynamic for development. Unfortunately, on their own, they are not sufficient for this dynamic to be practically expressed. A plan and a holistic approach are required to ensure that these developmental characteristics lead to the attraction of the necessary investments to yield economic benefits for Mani, its people, and the qualitative upgrade of its technical infrastructure. Unfortunately, private investments are promoted in an isolated and uncoordinated manner, while public investments are almost nonexistent. The planning and the holistic approach, as mentioned earlier, are lacking, and they do not generate the necessary impetus for public investments to respond to the dynamics created by the geolphysical space and private initiatives.

    The array of institutional expressions that guide financing, although complex and multi-layered, needs to be approached in order to transfer to it the right for the development of the region. The regional administration, ministries, MPs and MEPs (members of parliament and members of the European Parliament), who distribute the financing of public investments, are elected, and promote the region’s development rights, especially during critical pre-election periods, can be a first step towards positive prospects in the future.

    Unfortunately, a historical review leads to disappointing conclusions. We have failed even in managing the specialised funding for our region from the two Community Initiatives mentioned earlier. A large portion of their initial budgets was recalled, anticipated projects and works were detached, and the resulting benefits have not had a significant impact.

    The upcoming European elections are another opportunity to create a favourable climate for the region at the European level. The selection of candidates who have knowledge and experience related to development and who understand the qualitative characteristics of our region can create a favourable atmosphere that can be exploited in the future. Planning and a holistic approach are prerequisites for any effective approach. The advocacy line followed so far by the representatives of the region, due to its fragmented nature, has not yielded results. It is time to understand that the necessary reflection needs to be generated to revise it. It has been proven that advocating for one’s village, narrow geographical area, or municipality does not lead to public investments that will complement the significantly promoted private investments. A joint plan and joint proposals to regional administration, central government, MPs and MEPs can be the only path to attract funding. And then, we should learn to maximise their returns, with organisation and without internal competitions and selective allocations of funding.

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

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