MEPs to ex­tend EU top-up for Greece and Cyprus

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Plans to pro­long a 10% in­crease in the EU con­tri­bu­tion to­wards project costs in Greece un­til 30 June of the year fol­low­ing the end of its eco­nomic ad­just­ment pro­gramme were ap­proved by Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee MEPs on Tues­day. MEPs also ap­proved a spe­cial pro­vi­sion whereby the EU would pay up to 85% of project costs in Cyprus un­til the cur­rent pro­gram­ming pe­riod ends in 2020.

“The pur­pose of the leg­isla­tive pro­posal voted to­day is to help those mem­ber states most af­fected by the fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic cri­sis to con­tinue im­ple­ment­ing the pro­grammes on the ground”, said the rap­por­teur and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee chair Iskra Mi­haylova (ALDE, BG). The leg­isla­tive res­o­lu­tion was ap­proved by 31 votes with 3 ab­sten­tions.

“Top-ups” in EU con­tri­bu­tions, on top of the EU’s usual “co-fi­nanc­ing” share (EU mem­ber states them­selves pay the rest) were first in­tro­duced in 2010. In the 20072013 fund­ing pe­riod, el­i­gi­bil­ity for top ups ended on the day when a mem­ber state stopped re­ceiv­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance un­der the eco­nomic ad­just­ment pro­gramme. For 2014-2020, the el­i­gi­bil­ity pe­riod was aligned with the ac­count­ing year, which cur­rently runs from 1 July to 30 June.

MEPs agreed that pro­gramme mem­ber states should con­tinue to be el­i­gi­ble for top ups un­til 30 June of the year fol­low­ing the cal­en­dar year in which they cease re­ceiv­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance un­der an eco­nomic ad­just­ment pro­gramme. Greece is the only EU coun­try cur­rently un­der a fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance pro­gramme, which is due to end in August 2018.

MEPs voted in favour of ex­tend­ing the pe­riod of el­i­gi­bil­ity for Cyprus for the in­creased EU co-fi­nanc­ing rate of 85% un­til the clo­sure of the 2014-2020 pro­grammes.

Cyprus has the sta­tus of a “more de­vel­oped re­gion” in the cur­rent EU co­he­sion pol­icy and would nor­mally re­ceive 50% co-fi­nanc­ing for projects un­der the Euro­pean Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Fund and Euro­pean So­cial Fund pro­grammes. But given that Cyprus has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing eco­nomic hard­ship and de­clin­ing in­vest­ment over a long pe­riod, it was granted a higher co-fi­nanc­ing rate of 85% be­tween 1 Jan­uary 2014 and 30 June 2017. The leg­isla­tive res­o­lu­tion will be put to the ple­nary vote in Oc­to­ber. The Coun­cil agreed on 21 Septem­ber to adopt the Com­mis­sion pro­posal with­out amend­ments.

Ar­ti­cle 24 of the Com­mon Pro­vi­sions Reg­u­la­tion (CPR) al­lows the Com­mis­sion to make in­creased pay­ments un­der ESIF pro­grammes - so called “top-ups” - to coun­tries which are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing eco­nomic dif­fi­cul­ties. At the re­quest of a mem­ber state, in­terim pay­ments may be in­creased by 10 per­cent­age points above the co-fi­nanc­ing rate ap­pli­ca­ble to each pri­or­ity for the Euro­pean Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Fund (ERDF), Euro­pean So­cial Fund (ESF) and the Co­he­sion Fund or to each mea­sure for the Euro­pean Agri­cul­tural Fund for Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment (EAFRD) and the Euro­pean Mar­itime and Fish­eries Fund (EMFF). The “top-up” does not change the over­all Euro­pean Struc­tural and In­vest­ment Fund al­lo­ca­tions in 2014-2020.

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