Greece: Parliament backs urgent frontloading of €35 billion in EU funding

Published in World
Tuesday, 06 October 2015 15:55

Parliament on Tuesday backed a set of one-off measures aimed at boosting the effective spending of €35 billion earmarked for Greece in the EU 2014-2020 budget. This includes €20 billion from the European structural and investment funds and €15 billion from agricultural funds.

MEPs followed the recommandation of Parliament's regional development committee and adopted the Commission's proposal unchanged, as a matter of urgency, by 586 votes to 87, with 21 abstentions. This fast-track procedure paves the way for the swift adoption of the measures by the Council and their immediate entry into force.The measures are aimed at speeding up the implementation of EU funds to help Greece ensure that all the money available to it from the 2007-2013 programming period is used in time (before it expires at the end of 2017), and to help Greece meet the requirements for accessing all the EU funds available to it in the current programming period of 2014-2020.
The funding covers programming periods up to 2020. The amendment to the current regulation proposed by the Commission and agreed by Parliament allows some €500 million to be released as soon as the legislation is adopted and a further €800 million will be released in advance of the formal closure of the programmes in 2017. These special measures are neutral for the EU budget, as they will be implemented within the country allocations agreed in the current multi-financial framework for 2014-2020.
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  • How can a business benefit from becoming ‘greener’?

    1. Why should my company become greener?

    An eco-friendly approach to production shows responsible entrepreneurship and brings important practical benefits for businesses. First, it reduces general production costs and brings transparency into material and energy flows. Secondly, it increases productivity, giving enterprises an opportunity to further expand their production with minimum risk and environmental impact. Moreover, by improving compliance and performance in line with environmental standards and market requirements, it contributes to new and better relationships with customers and stakeholders. Altogether, these benefits provide companies with a better competitive position in the national, as well as international markets.

    For example, thanks to the support provided by the European Union, approximately 2,000 Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production measures were identified for 357 SMEs and organisations in the Eastern partner countries, with a payback period of less than 5 years, which could annually save companies up to €10 million, as well as:

    • 158 GWh of energy – equivalent to the energy consumption of 43,000 average European Union households of 2-3 members
    • 1,394,490 m3 of water – equivalent to the water consumption by 12,563 average European households
    • 44,210 t of raw materials

    Those measures also help to avoid 81,115 t of CO2 emissions (approximately 17,644 average cars removed from the streets) and 22,694 t of solid waste (equivalent to the amount of waste produced by 4,364 average European Union inhabitants) per annum.

    In a nutshell, resource efficiency helps to stimulate technological innovation, create green jobs, benefit consumers through more sustainable products, and opens new export markets and business opportunities for local companies.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many businesses. Several sectors have been brought to a standstill, impacting the economy on an unprecedented scale. In this context, there is no place for wastages of any kind. Optimising workflows, materials, energy, and water usage to reduce costs and improve quality are essential to enable a rapid recovery of industries. Resource efficient and cleaner production can become an important tool for economic recovery, as it implies a thoughtful use of limited resources to achieve maximum production benefits. Better process control, improvement of working conditions, safe chemical management, upgrading to best available technology, energy efficiency, reduction and revalorisation of waste, innovation for green products, among others, are Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production strategies that contribute to businesses pursuing recovery strategies.

    Efficient and Cleaner Production practices, technologies, and industrial symbiosis are part of the first steps. See more about EU4Environment activities piloting Eco-Industrial Parks here.

    2. Why should I choose the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production methodology to become greener?

    The Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production methodology has various applications ranging from product modification to better manufacturing process control and technology improvement. All of these integrated actions increase on-site reusability, product efficiency, and recyclability.

    Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production analysis helps the enterprise to identify the opportunities that make it more sustainable:

    • Careful selection of raw materials and energy sources (prioritising renewable energy);
    • Improvement of production processes through responsible management, efficient operation, and innovative and environmentally sound technologies;
    • Elimination or reduction of toxic and hazardous materials;
    • Reduction of waste, wastewater, and emissions;
    • Valorising residues and waste and promoting synergies among companies.

    Experience shows that more than 60% of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production options require low implementation cost or relatively short payback periods that range between a few months and up to three years, thus facilitating a quick return and generation of savings that companies achieve using existing financial resources.

    Apart from the economic benefits, the results of these practices improve companies’ environmental and social performance, enhancing their business image on the market. They also ensure compliance, and facilitate access to green credits available through national and international financial institutions to implement high-cost options. Including the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions among the key performance indicators, Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production connects Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to financial mechanisms which promote climate change mitigation in order to encourage companies to improve energy efficiency and use renewable energy. 

    3. How Resource Efficient and Cleaner Productionhelps to reduce costs?

    Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production has been internationally recognised as a tool for optimising resources in all types of facilities:

    • In manufacturing processes, Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production focuses on conserving raw materials, water, and energy, while eliminating toxic and dangerous materials and reducing emissions and waste directly at their generation source.
    • For products, Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production analyses resource demand along the value chain and lifecycle of the product.  It promotes eco-design principles that increase product lifespan, durability, and/or recyclability to reduce negative impacts during the lifecycle.
    • For service facilities, Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production introduces management practices and technology to reduce energy demand in buildings and transportation. The improvement of management, technology, and logistics in order to introduce responsible purchasing, minimise waste generation and promote recycling programmes is a way to engage service businesses and promote innovation on circular practices (repairing, reuse).

    For example, by mapping waste sources and determining hidden causes, a food company identified losses equivalent to a non-conforming product rate of 15% in its wafer production line. Through adjustment of the product formulation, improved operational control and the installation of a new creamer section, the company not only achieved a better quality of their wafers, but also reduced non-conformity rates to 5%.

    4. What are the concrete steps of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production implementation?

    Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production is implemented as follows: Plan – Do – Check – Act

    • Plan – the commitment: It starts with a strong commitment from the management of the company focusing on areas such as product design, procurement, production, sale, and maintenance. The Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production company team is then established to lead an evaluation process that identifies inefficiencies and losses at the source level. Using tools such as process flow charts, waste mapping, and benchmarking research, a pre-assessment is developed to establish the relevant priorities.
    • Do – the assessment: The detailed material and energy balances are used to audit the most relevant resource flows in terms of costs and environmental impacts. Eco-design principles and root-cause analysis are then applied to identify improvement options. This is followed by the application of the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production options hierarchy (selection of materials, good housekeeping, improved control, appropriate technology, internal recycling, external recycling). The Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production options are then evaluated for the technical, economic, and environmental feasibility to design an action plan to be implemented by the company.
    • Check – the monitoring: A monitoring system is designed to measure key performance and operational indicators established during the assessment. A Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production monitoring system is designed to keep track of the use of resources (input/output analysis, process indicators, lifecycle indicators, management indicators, etc.) and the true value of waste and emissions to continuously seek new opportunities and communicate results to internal and external stakeholders.
    • Act – the sustained integration with the management system: The last pillar is achieved by preparing an action plan, evaluation procedure, and communication strategy to keep a continued implementation of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production options covering additional thematic areas of the company.

    5: What support is available for companies?

    The European Union supports countries in the Eastern Partnership region in their transition towards greener, more efficient and sustainable economies, while addressing environmental challenges and improving citizens’ environmental well-being. The European Union support addresses both technical and financing needs.

    Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production is one of the priority areas of the EU4Environment programme. Under EU4Environment, and with the technical support of UNIDO, national Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production partners in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine promote the use of Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production among SMEs. The national partners provide advisory services and Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production audits for companies, train experts and raise awareness about Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production, as well as facilitate access to green finance.

    The European Union also provides funding for green investments in partnership with international financial institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, and the German Development Bank KfW, in the framework of the EU4Business initiative, as well as through the Green for Growth Fund and the FINTECC EU4Climate window. In 2020, the European Union provided a guarantee of up to €100 million to support EBRD investments of around €300 million and additional loans from private sector actors for cumulative total investments of over €500 million. Among other things, this support will address COVID-19 recovery through green investments, including in the Eastern Partnership countries.

    You can find out more in the stakeholders’ guidebook for financing RECP by SMEs in the EaP.

    6. How can I use ‘green’ technologies in Georgia?

    You should get in touch with the Energy Efficiency Centre – a national partner of the EU4Environment Action in Georgia (https://recp.ge) for details about the Project’s activities in the country and the resources available to Georgian SMEs. These include the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) Clubs in the regions of Kakheti and Mtskheta, which provide practical support to SMEs, company assessments and mentoring, as well as information about Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production and Circular Economy during specialised events.

    The Centre also supports Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production activities like trainings and events, the delivery of demonstration projects, preparation of thematic publications, and many more. It also offers leadership at national level and ensures the effective implementation of the Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production Project within the EU4Environment Action, providing advocacy and liaison with relevant national stakeholders in the government, the business sector, and with civil society.

    To learn more about how SMEs can save resources and money by investing in Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production , read the story of the Georgian company EcOil on how it recovered its investment through Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production assessed savings in just one year. You can also find out more about green finance opportunities for small businesses by checking out the Q&A on green investments for SMEs in Georgia.

    The material is prepared within the project "EU NEIGHBOURS east"

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    Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, Ekaterine Tikaradze got familiarized with the process of immunization in Tbilisi Republican Hospital.

    Ekaterine Tikaradze extended her gratitude towards MPs for involvement in the process of vaccination and noted that participation of a legislative body and MPs will further intensify the process.

    “The process of vaccination has significantly improved in Georgia. The readiness and trust for public side is increasing. Both work-related and business sector involvement are significant, since social and public responsibility of our citizens are manifested through wearing face masks, observing the rule of social distancing, active engagement on vaccination process. The Government decided to serve as a role model for the society. Active involvement of the ministers in the vaccination process has been observed recently; without any doubts, involvement of a legislative body and Members of Parliament is very important”, - stated Ekaterine Tikaradze.

    Registration for Chinese Sinopharm vaccine has started in Georgia from April 27.

    To book the vaccination please visit: booking.moh.gov.ge or call 15 22.

    WHO, Public Health Institutions, and qualified doctors recommend COVID-19 vaccination!

  • Address of Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili

    Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili today announced that she pledges to pardon Giorgi Rurua if political actors sign the EU-backed compromise paper and enter the parliament.

    "I am surprised by the statement made today by the ruling party that uses my name over and over again without my permission and consent and links it to one specific pardon. They have not understood that such a decision, especially in such a case but not only, should be made without expectations of criticism or praise and only if I deem it necessary. I think I have already shown this through my deeds.

    I would like to remind everyone of one simple rule: the power of pardon is the discretion of the President and is not the subject of negotiations. I want to make it clear that the decision to pardon, as I have said more than once, is not subject to pressure, to instructions or demands, whether they may be from the opposition, the ruling party, or anyone else.

    According to principle, the President does not speak about pardons and does not disclose motivation. However, because of some continuous appeals on this subject and because of the current situation, I am forced to violate this principle and state clearly my position to stop any speculation.

    I think no one will be surprised to hear that for me and for the rest of society, someone with such a well-known past can be called many things, but not a political prisoner. That individual does not fit into any category of pardon by any means, be it righteousness, morality, or politics.

    Nevertheless, as I once already took it upon myself, I believe here again that if what’s at stake is the country’s political stalemate, its stability, progress, and future, it is the President’s duty to put the country above her own views and principles.

    With that in mind, I am ready to make a decision scandalous also for myself. But I make this decision only on my condition, that such a step must be the last step to end the crisis and pave the way for the country and for Parliament to enter a normal political life and deal with existing challenges without any other distractions.

    This means that my decision will be implemented only when, on the one hand, the political parties sign the final document and enter Parliament, and on the other hand, the representatives of the European Union and the United States announce that an agreement has been reached. Once this announcement is done, I will sign the act of pardon within a week", - the President of Georgia Says.

  • Joint statement of the Spokespersons of the EU High Representative/Vice-President and of the US Department of State on the EU mediation

    After nearly six months of negotiations, the citizens of Georgia have made clear that they want the political crisis to end, and for all elected Members to work together in Parliament and address the serious challenges facing the country, including the regional challenges, COVID, and the economic crisis.

    With this in mind, the European Union and the United States call on all Members of Georgia’s Parliament to sign the agreement that European Council President Michel will propose today. This is an agreement all Members can sign in good faith rather than a unilateral action that undermines the goal of a broad-based agreement.

    The institutional reforms in the agreement represent important progress for Georgia’s democratic development and are of significant benefit for its citizens, helping to create a more independent judiciary, stronger electoral processes, and a Parliament that can better reflect the voices of all people of Georgia.

    Accepting this compromise demonstrates courage and a commitment by all parties to put the needs of the citizens of Georgia first, ahead of the interests of any one political party.

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