A proposal to explore the possibility of replacing the Cohesion Policy Funds with a single fund, promoting faster planning, deeper synergies and more effective implementation of projects, was submitted on Friday by the Permanent Secretary of the Finance Ministry's Directorate General Development, Theodosis Tsiolas, who represented the Minister of Finance at the informal meeting of Ministers responsible for Cohesion Policy, in Prague.
In his intervention, Tsiolas said that Cyprus became in July the first country in the EU with an approved €1.8 billion Program, called "THALEIA 2021-2027". According to the Ministry of Finance, Cyprus is now on track to implement the new 2021-2027 period, while the full absorption of all available European funds is expected by the end of 2023 for the 2014-2020 programming period.
During the meeting, the Ministers exchanged views in relation to the planning and implementation of the Cohesion Policy Programmes, but also practical measures that could be adopted in the future to improve decisions and planning and make Cohesion Policy more flexible and accessible to citizens and businesses. The need for no additional administrative costs and overlaps with existing funds and tools was emphasized.
Furthermore, Ministers applauded the quick response of the Cohesion Policy in dealing with both the consequences of the pandemic crisis and the consequences of Russian aggression in Ukraine and expressed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
At the start of the informal meeting, the Czech Presidency emphasized the effectiveness of the Cohesion Policy for the Regions of the European Union, noting that for the ten countries that joined in 2004 (including Cyprus) the average per capita Gross Domestic Product increased by 2019 to 77% across the EU, up from 59%.
European Commissioner Eliza Ferreira emphasized in her address the importance of the Cohesion Policy in the convergence of the economies of the regions in the European Union and her support in dealing with the consequences of the crises. She underlined the fact that Cohesion Policy needs to develop and evolve to help economies become more resilient to better deal with future crises. Finally, she urged the countries to proceed immediately with the planning and implementation of projects so that the Cohesion Policy continues to demonstrate its effectiveness in practice.