+ Annual Report on Technical Assistance
EEA GRANTS 2009-2014
STRATEGIC REPORT 2015
+ Annual report on Technical Assistance
(Covering year 2014)
31 March 2015UPDATED REPORT AS OF SEPTEMBER 2015
Independent Unit, National Focal Point-European Economic Area
10, Nikis str. GR-10563 Athens
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONSFMC / Financial Mechanism Committee
FMO / Financial Mechanism Office
NFP / National Focal Point
PO / Programme Operator
FO / Fund Operator
PP / Project Promoter
PA / Programme Agreement
MCS / Management and Control System
SGS / Small Grant Scheme
BFNL / Bilateral Fund at National Level
GHG Emissions / Greenhouse Gas Emissions
NGO / Non-Governmental Organization
CRES / Centre for Renewable Energy Sources
RES / Renewable Energy Sources
AVR / Assisted Voluntary Return
NSRF / National Strategic Reference Framework
01 / Technical Assistance and Bilateral Fund at National Level
02 / Integrated Marine and Inland Water Management
03 / Renewable Energy
04 / Funds for NGO
05 / Adress urgent needs for the reception and screening of new arrivals and for the accomdation of vulnerable groups. Assistance to voluntary returns
06 / Capacity building of national asylum and migration management systems
07 / Research
08 / Solidarity and Social Inclusion in Greece
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The EEA Grants 2009-2014 implementation mostly started in Greece in 2014. The whole year was marked by political instability and continuous changes of the Ministers commanding the Programme Operators, including the NFP. Despite that, the POs demonstrated perseverance and tried to promote the various decisions as much as possible. The results started to be visible by the end of 2014.
The combination of poor welfare state, rising unemployment and sharp income decrease is producing a very unstable social image for Greece, despite the fact that the country is still among the most developed in the world. In this context, the mainly demonstrative character of the EEA Grants programmes in Greece is very important, providing simultaneously a certain improvement in the selected sector, and possibly ameliorating the perception of the general conditions in the country.
Special mention should be made for the programmes for Asylum, Assisted Voluntary Returns, Unaccompanied Minors and other vulnerable immigrants, as well as the social programmes targeting the less privileged. The statistics clearly show that these programmes (05, 06, 08) are filling an existing gap in the Hellenic social and administrative system.
Concerning the bilateral relations, some positive developments took place in 2014. The POs for 02, 03, and 04 organized a bilateral activity that, in their respective sectors, resulted in increased visibility, albeit with limited results as far as the establishment of permanent ties is concerned. The potential is more visible for 06, due to the successful partnership with the UDI, and for 03, concerning RES, where there is fertile common ground to work on. The prospects are mitigated for 02 and 07. Finally, there is serious concern for the bilateral Fund at National Level, due to the persisting impossibility of payments on the part of the PO.
A gap in the implementation progress is visible, between the Programmes managed by the Hellenic Administration and those managed by the FMO/contracted Fund Operators. The disbursements are very low on the PO side. However, it is important to note that these programmes started with considerable delays, mainly due to the political instability and the inexistence of monitoring on the part of the NFP itself, which remained understaffed for nearly half the year 2014. The delays in implementation should not be confused with poor quality, though. All PO are following the procedures and are ensuring quality of the projects selected.
The main challenge ahead is the smooth implementation. The lengthy procurements’ procedures that must be followed on the part of many PPs, once these are contracted, may lead to further delays. Simultaneously, in some programmes, the new government has set other priorities, possibly delaying the implementation. Finally, the administrative capacity of the PO/PP may influence the progress too. The NFPhas been closely monitoring progress, offering solutions when possible.
The visibility of the Grants is expected to rise from 2015 onwards, due to the hiring of a communications consultant – in time for communicating the results- and the functioning of the internet site
2. ASSESSMENTOF THE EFFECT OF THE GRANTS
As a general remark it is still very soon to assess the effect of the Grants for Greece. Indeed, the Programmes have only started implementation in mid-2014.
In this regard, the NFP has chosen to briefly present the trends in the main sectors where the Grants will intervene, during 2015 and 2016, when the results will start to be visible.
Although Greece is still among the economically developed countries in the world, ranking above many other EU countries according to the GDP/capita, it is also a country severely hit by the economic crisis, for the sixth consecutive year. This has negatively affected many indicators that contribute to the sentiment of quality of life. In fact, the sharp decrease of the available income has led to a general resentment, albeit not supported by statistics. That said, it is also clear that the crisis has hit more severely the low income households, thus leading to an increase of the number of people living under the poverty threshold, in a country where the welfare state and the social system have not yet reached a satisfactory level.GDP growth rate (annual change)
GEO/TIME / 2008 / 2011 / 2013
EA-17 / 0,4 / 1,6 / -0,4
EU-28 / 0,4 / 1,6 / 0,1
Bulgaria / 6,2 / 1,8 / 0,9
Croatia / 2,1 / -0,2 / -0,9
Cyprus / 3,6 / 0,4 / -5,4
Czech Republic / 3,1 / 1,8 / -0,9
Estonia / -4,1 / 8,7 / 2,2
Greece / -0,2 / -7,1 / -3,9
Hungary / 0,9 / 1,6 / 1,1
Latvia / -2,8 / 5,3 / 4,1
Lithuania / 2,9 / 6,0 / 3,3
Malta / 3,9 / 1,4 / 2,9
Poland / 5,1 / 4,5 / 1,6
Portugal / 0,0 / -1,3 / -1,4
Romania / 7,3 / 2,3 / 3,5
Slovakia / 5,8 / 3,0 / 0,9
Slovenia / 3,4 / 0,7 / -1,1
Spain / 0,9 / 0,1 / -1,2
Iceland / 1,2 / 2,7 / 3,3
Norway / 0,1 / 1,3 / 0,6
Source: Eurostat / GDP/capita in PPS
GEO/TIME / 2008 / 2011 / 2013
EU-28 / 100,0 / 100,0 / 100,0
EA-17 / 109,0 / 109,0 / 107,0
Bulgaria / 43,0 / 44,0 / 45,0
Croatia / 64,0 / 60,0 / 61,0
Cyprus / 105,0 / 96,0 / 89,0
Czech Republic / 82,0 / 83,0 / 82,0
Estonia / 68,0 / 68,0 / 73,0
Greece / 93,0 / 77,0 / 73,0
Hungary / 63,0 / 65,0 / 66,0
Latvia / 60,0 / 57,0 / 64,0
Lithuania / 63,0 / 65,0 / 73,0
Malta / 81,0 / 84,0 / 86,0
Poland / 55,0 / 64,0 / 67,0
Portugal / 79,0 / 78,0 / 79,0
Romania / 48,0 / 51,0 / 55,0
Slovakia / 71,0 / 73,0 / 75,0
Slovenia / 89,0 / 83,0 / 82,0
Spain / 102,0 / 95,0 / 94,0
Iceland / 125,0 / 115,0 / 119,0
Norway / 189,0 / 182,0 / 186,0
According to Eurostat, in 2013 35.7% of Greeks were facing the risk of poverty or social exclusion during 2013, while 23.1% remained at the risk of poverty even after the social transfers and another 18.2% were living in households with very low work intensity, topping European Union’s rankings in both categories. Greece ranked third amongst its European partners for the percentage of the population at risk of poverty and social exclusion, only behind Bulgaria with 48% and Romania with 40%. In addition, according to the OECD country survey 2013, there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn six times as much as the bottom 20%.
At the same time, Greece had the highest unemployment rate (figures seasonally adjusted for 01/2015):
The combination of poor welfare state, rising unemployment and sharp income decrease is producing a very unstable social image for the country.Hence, in the OECD Better Life Index 2013, Greece is ranking poorly. From 2007 to 2013, the percentage of Greek people declaring being very satisfied with their lives fell from 59% to 23%, the lowest share in the OECD area.
Below are the OECD Better Life Index statistics for Greece that are of concern to the EEA Grants, in a scale from 0 to 10, 0 being the less satisfactory:Life satisfaction (how happy you are) / 0
Environment (quality of environment) / 4,6
Community (quality of social support network) / 0
Jobs (earnings, job security and unemployment) / 2,2
Income (household income and financial wealth) / 1,9
Civic engagement (your involvement in democracy) / 3,9
Work-life balance (how much you work, how much you play) / 7,2
This situation clearly shows the need for social action, on top of what can be achieved by the State.Therefore, projects such as the “Frourarcheion” (a social center proposing comprehensive services, from medical to legal support) are definitely contributing to ameliorating living conditions and access to services for the most deprived. Almost 2500 persons had access to the Frourarcheion services during 2014.
Onothersectors, theimageismitigated. For example, Greece has a higher rate of decrease of GHG emissions (13%) compared to the EU 28 average (11%) for the period 2002 to 2012 (last available Eurostat data). Simultaneously, only 6.03% of the energy consumption comes from renewable energy sources, demonstrating the lack of exploitation of the country’s huge potential in the sector.
The demonstrative character of the projects about to be financed by the EEA Grants will contribute to highlight the importance of a modal shift in energy production and consumption in Greece. In particular, the communication and publicity requirements of the Programme, and the close monitoring of the NFP will allow to spreadthe knowledge of the positive results of the projects.
Greece is among the countries with high exposure to pollution:
Equally, sea and inland water quality is one of the best in Europe, but many regions, especially in the islands, are still lacking fresh drinking water. The 02 Programme will contribute to improve these indexes and therefore to improve the living conditions in the targeted areas.
Due to its geographical position, its long seacoast and its proximity unstable regions, Greece is a major entrance for migrants and, according to the UNHCR has recorded a rise in asylum applications.The highest number of asylum applicants in the fourth quarter of 2014 was registered by far in Germany (65 100 applicants, or 32% of total applicants in the EU), Hungary (28 600, or 14%), Italy (21 500, or 11%), Sweden (21 100, or 10%) and France (16 800, or 8%). But absolute numbers may not translate the overall burden for the administration.Residing in Greece
Refugees / 3,485
Asylum Seekers / 43,883
Returned Refugees / 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) / 0
Returned IDPs / 0
Stateless Persons / 178
Various / 11,539
Total Population of Concern / 59,085
Originating from Greece
Refugees / 94
Asylum Seekers / 89
Returned Refugees / 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) / 0
Returned IDPs / 0
Various / 0
Total Population of Concern / 183
SSource: USNHCR, 2014tistical Snapshot*
Source: UNHCR, 2014
In this context, the contribution of the Grants is crucial. According to the data presented in the 06 annual programme report, during the implementation period within 2014, 2663 third country nationals were accommodated in the Evros First Reception Centre and informed about the AVR procedure (137 requested so), along with 225 unaccompanied children. Equally, 320 asylum applications were submitted. The Asylum Service in Fylakio processed 260 applications.
Finally, concerning research capacity, Greece is ranking poorly. According to the “Innovation Union Progress at Country level” report 2014 by the European Commission, R&D intensity in 2012 was at 0.69 %, while the EU average was EU: 2.07 %.
The EEA Grants are expected to slightly contribute to improve the above indexes. The progress will only be measurable once the projects are contracted; although it will be difficult to measure the percentage of EEA Grants contribution to the changes, as the intervention areas are not only targeted by the EEA Grants, but also by other sources of financing.
The NFP, in cooperation with the Programme Operators, will ensure the maximum degree of visibility of all actions undertaken, so that the effect of the Grants is effectively communicated to the general public.
2.2. Bilateral relations
The progress during 2014 is mitigated. Overall, the trend is considered positive, as the POs have organized bilateral actions in the context of the launching of their respective calls, with the aim to create permanent ties with entities from the Donor states. On the other hand, technical problems concerning payments for the programme 01 (Technical Assistance and Bilateral Fund at National Level) have created delays in implementation of the BFNL, resulting to its temporary freezing. However, the NFP notes that, in view of the repeated requests from potential project promoters, once the payments issue is resolved, the actions under the BFNL will be implemented with success.
More in detail:
The Centre for International and European Economic Law, in collaboration with the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, organized a joint seminar entitled “How can EU member states combat hate crime effectively? Encouraging reporting and improving recording”, on 28-29/04. The seminar was attended by more than 90 participants and indeed had an important impact, as far as the dissemination of results is concerned. This is the only event under the BFNL that was completed during 2014; it was also partly financed directly from the FMO. However, its significance in terms of strengthening the bilateral relations with the Donor countries is limited, consisting in the participation of professionals from the Donor countries as well.
The NGO “Junior Achievement Greece”, in cooperation with the “mother” NGO “Junior Achievement Norway”, has started implementing the activity “Entrepreneurship in Education”, with the organization of exchange visits. However, the PO (the NFP) is unable to proceed to any payments in this project, thus obliging the Promoter to temporarily suspend the implementation. The consequence is the necessity to extend the implementation until the end of the programming period and somehow alter the essence of the project, by replacing some planned activities with other, due to alater start.
Finally, under the BFNL, the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources started drafting the specifications concerning the implementation of the Project “Geothermal Development”. Due to late claims for daily allowances on the part of the donor project partner (“Orkustofnun”), the project has been delayed, until a decision is taken to increase the total available budget.
A part from the BFNL, some significant developments took place on the part of the Programme Operators. For instance it is worth mentioning that an excellent cooperation is taking place between the Norwegian Directorate for Immigration (UDI) and two Programme Operators, namely the European and Development Programmes Division of the Ministry of Public Order and Citizens (06) and the International Organization for Migration (contracted by the FMO for the 05). The Cooperation Committee for the 06 is meeting regularly, and the UDI has also detached at least one person to the PO in Greece in order to facilitate implementation and knowledge transfer.
The Programme 03 has organized a bilateral activity, in September 2014, in the context of communicating the then open calls. CRES had invited participants from the Donor countries, and in cooperation with the Norwegian Embassy in Athens encouraged joint applications; however, these did not materialize. It is foreseen that bilateral actions will be organized by the Project Promoters once they are selected. It is important to note that this particular programme seems to have a great bilateral potential, due to its content (RES), on whichextensive knowhow and expertise exists in the Donor countries, and also due to the Programme Operator’s willingness.
The programme 02 prepared a bilateral activity for the beginning of 2015. The “Research” programme (07) will implement bilateral actions only at project level.
As a conclusion, the bilateral activities are well under way. The prospects are positive, especially for the Programmes 01 (once the payments issue is solved), 03 – due to the subject matter and to the Promoter’s willingness- and 06 – due to the ongoing fruitful cooperation with the UDI. The NFP discerns some difficulties in implementing meaningful bilateral activities for the Programmes 02 and 07, due to their character. In fact, the call for scholarships in the Donor states within the 02 Programme would be issued again in late March, due to lack of interest. Concerning the 07 the evaluation of the proposals is under way and it is difficult to provide a clear assessment. In fact, only some proposals included bilateral relations with Universities/research centers from the donor states and it is not clear if these proposals will be finally co-financed.UPDATE:
Under the program GR01, the process of resolving the payments problem has proven lengthy and complicated. This caused a serious delay in fully deploying the bilateral activities at national level. Nevertheless, the NFP in the beginning of 2015 came in contact with the remaining 4 project promoters of the Annex’s I work plan, in order to mobilize them to implement the projects. One is going to implement the project in 2016.Two donor project partners refused their participationin the project and one project promoter wants to change the subject of the project. Finally, there is interest from the Technical Chamber of Greece to act a PP in an existing Project (safety in offshore oil and gas extraction).
REPORTING ON PROGRAMMES
3.1 Overview of Programme status
Calls per programme in 2014(as in DoRIS, corrected by the NFP):Programme / Publication date / End date
02 Integrated marine and inland water management
More integrated management of marine and inland water resources / 5/12/2014 / 06/02/2015
Scholarships for postdoctoral research or part of doctoral (Ph.D) studies in the field of Integrated Marine and Inland Water Management in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, 2014-2015 / 05/11/2014 / 09/01/2015
RES Systems in Local Communities Call 1 & Pre-Defined Project / 12/06/2014 / 03/11/2014
04 Funds for Non-governmental Organisations
Social inequalities, poverty, social exclusion (including in rural areas) and provision of basic welfare services / 22/01/2014 / 24/03/2014
Democracy, Transparency, Good Governance and Citizen Participation / 22/01/2014 / 24/03/2014
Human Rights, including minority rights, especially the Roma, immigrants, racism and hate crime, gender equality and gender-based violence and trafficking / 22/09/2014 / 24/11/2014
Strengthened capacity of NGOs and an enabling environment / 22/09/2014 / 24/11/2014
Open Call for the Programme "Diversity, inequality and social inclusion / 21/10/2014 / 19/12/2014
Commitments and disbursements per programme, as reported by the PO, 2014Programme / Commitments (€) / Disbursements (€) / Comments
01 / 220.000,00 / 50.000,00
02 / 6.641.037,13 / 0
03 / 11.188.235,00 / 293.188,00
04 / 0 / 475.400,00 / Advance payments only
05 / 2.381.623,70 / 2.143.109,30 / 90% absorption
06 / PROJECT 1: 532.358,00 / 47.482,00
PROJECT 2: 778.724,00 / 201.023,00
PO: 89.348,00 / 31.425,00
07 / 1.450.509,00 / 0
08 / 1.272.384,00 / 1.242.978,00 / The remaining would be disbursed in early 2015
The actual implementation of all programmes under the NFP’s monitoring in Greece started in mid-2014. After several adjustments to some of the Program Agreements, in order to better reflect the goals to be achieved and the means to attain them, all issued their calls in that same period. Due to a very late start in implementation, the NFP has been closely monitoring the progress, by regularly organizing meetings with the Program Operators, as well as providing help in situ when deemed necessary. All POshave been asked to provide an implementation timetable, (updated when necessary) which is the main reference document for monitoring the progress and identifying delays.