The European Union has allocated 18.3 billion euros ($24.45 billion) from its common budget for Greece for the period 2014-2020, a big drop from the 25 billion euros ($33.4 billion) allotted from its previous disbursements.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who was attending the EU’s budget meeting in Brussels, said that, “Under difficult conditions we achieved the best we possibly could,” a nod to the country’s crushing economic crisis and the bloc’s leaders wanting to control spending. “It is a decision that is a psychological boost to us all,” he said, according to the newspaper Kathimerini.
Greece will get 14.5 billion euros ($19.37 billion) from the community support framework, while another 1.8 billion euros ($2.4 billion) for rural development, but not the agricultural subsidies that had been paid in the past. Greece is also set to be given about 2 billion euros ($2.67 billion) more in 2016, when its participation in the EU budget will be reassessed because of the crisis.
Greece wasn’t alone in being cut back as the EU reduced its budget by about 3 percent, to 960 billion euros ($1.28 trillion.) The allocations were determined on pre-crisis Gross Domestic Product levels, a hit for Greece where the economy has shrunk by more than 20 percent since austerity measures began being imposed in 2009 in return for international bailouts.
The structural funds will be invested in a range of areas, including infrastructure projects and schemes to combat youth unemployment, which is more than 55 percent in Greece. The EU’s participation in the funding of some of these projects will reach 80-90 percent due to the poor state of the country’s economy.
“Although the overall EU budget was reduced, Greece achieved the biggest increase in comparison to the European Commission’s proposals, which was for us to receive 11.2 billion euros,” said Samaras. “We remain concerned about the future of Europe. The Union cannot be strengthened when its funding is weakened.”