Cohesion Commissioner Ferreira in Kozani

Visiting European Commissioner for Cohesion & Reforms Elisa Ferreira on Friday called on local government officials in western Macedonia, and Greece at large, to prepare “well-thought-of, viable projects” for funding from the EU’s Just Transition Fund, in the context of phasing out lignite dependency for power production.

She was speaking at the city of Kozani, in the presence of regional mayors and representatives of institutions, telling them that “western Macedonia could be a global paradigm of what we can do with the right tools and the right people,” she said, adding: “Let’s all think together how we can best reshape this economy. Let’s sit down and prepare.”

Ferreira described the transition as not simply necessary, but inevitable, and she stressed: “You tell us ‘decide quickly.’ But you are not yet on standby to receive money, because you do not yet have the projects. Let’s work on these projects and on this plan. Prepare quality, viable projects, to which we can say ‘yes, this is it, we can invest taxpayers’ money in these projects.’ ”

Commenting on proposals presented to her on the day by western Macedonia mayors on waste and water management, among others, she underlined the need for all these projects to be self-sustainable in the long run.

Referring to the plan for western Macedonia’s de-lignification transition presented to her earlier by the president of Greece’s Just Transition Plan coordinating committee Kostis Mousouroulis, she said that on the basis of that plan “what is needed now are maps, projects and funds.”

Finally, Ferreira noted that “the current crisis is one of the hardest since the Second World War,” but at the same time EU’s support response is of equal measure, “a Marshall Plan for Europe, with a particular focus on the weakest areas.”