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27/03/2008 "Monitoring Committee"

Address by Special Secretary Mr. Stavropoulos at the Monitoring Committee.

Athens, 27 March 2008

Dear colleagues General Secretaries,
European Commission representatives,
Members of the Permanent Representation of Greece at the EU,
Members of the Monitoring Committee

Today’s session signals the start of the implementation period of the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship under the Programming Period 2007 – 2013, in brief EPAN II.

The new Operational Programme under the Greek ministry for Development, to which the word Entrepreneurship has been added, has been designed to continue the successful Actions of the previous programme, also adding emphasis on the Knowledge Economy, entrepreneurship and innovation.

After a long period of elaboration and consultations, that lasted over two years, which involved not only the public agencies involved (the Greek ministries and regional authorities) but also the most important groups of potential beneficiaries involved in the implementation, as for example business and research agencies, energy sector agencies, social partners etc, the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship was adopted by the European Commission on October 26, 2007.

The Operational Programme Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship is part of the NSRF (National Strategic Reference Framework) for the period 2007–2013 and is a basic instrument for the development of the Greek economy, as it covers its most important sectors: Industry, Energy, Trade, Tourism, Culture, Health and Research–Technology. As a result, its implementation is expected to impact the competitiveness of the Greek economy in its entirety.

The starting point of the O.P. Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship strategy is the substantial needs of Greece in the fields of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Research, Energy, and the business environment in general, as these emerge from an in-depth assessment of our strengths and weaknesses, together with the opportunities and threats we are dealing with according to developments in the European and the international environment.

Considering that the European Union keeps expanding, in a world that is constantly changing and becoming more competitive, we need to deal with developments without fear, viewing them as challenges. It is part of our national character, when compared to other people, to demonstrate that we can achieve even better. We are certain that we can achieve even better, and in this new environment we will have a comparative advantage if we place emphasis on knowledge...

Our objective is to foster the conversion of knowledge into innovative products and services, and to facilitate the transfer of technology and know–how to businesses in general and SMEs in particular.

We want to utilize the O.P. Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship to foster collaboration and partnership between Research and Entrepreneurship.The objective of this partnership is Innovation and Extroversion. “One of the O.P.’s central objectives for development is to improve the competitiveness and extroversion of enterprises and of the Greek production system, with emphasis on innovativeness”. “Innovation lies at the core of the new economy that we have been creating”.

In order to accomplish that objective key factors include capitalising on human resources, upgrading them, and fostering technological upgrading among enterprises.

More extroversion along with a higher status for Greece in Europe and the global community in general, interconnections with the global markets and the international integrated production systems of goods and services, will be made possible by strengthening the international collaborations of Greek enterprises, by acceding to the large international (trans-European) energy networks, and by creating a business environment that can attract business and investments that will contribute to the upgrading of the production system and the creation of competitive advantages.

Greece continues to enjoy growth rates in excess of the EU average (by 89 percent according to Eurostat data). Nevertheless its competitiveness remains low.

Fostering Greek competitiveness is going to require institutional reforms and the elaboration of an appropriate regulatory and legal framework. It will also require Greek enterprises to improve their methods of operation. Investments in R & D will yield results, especially if innovation is an integral element of business strategy.

Greek enterprises are less likely to use outside resources and collaborations, unlike similar enterprises in the developed EU member States, which very often seek assistance from outside research institutions or Universities, or even from their own customers. Fortunately there are successful Greek enterprises that we can be proud of. They are the proof that we can do it.

We want to utilise the O.P. Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship to drive Greek enterprises into becoming more extroverted. Extroversion is the only possible channel for upgrading Greek production focusing on high added value goods and services. In that context, support for entrepreneurship and enterprises by means of direct state aid remains a key development option (as is currently the case under the OP Competitiveness), but is oriented toward new forms of intervention, better targeted and upgraded, its basic criteria being to promote extroversion, to produce high added value, to create viable competitive advantages for enterprises, and to place emphasis on supporting SMEs.

The final objective is to upgrade the Greek production system toward high quality goods and services that will integrate knowledge, innovation and environmental awareness,hat will be competitive in the international markets in view of new conditions of competition created by the rapid growth of Asian countries and by the enlargement of the European Union to include new countries whose economies enjoy the advantages of significant extroversion when compared with the Greek economy.

The the O.P. Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship strategy and the most significant actions under the Programme will be presented in today’s meeting by the worthy executives of the Special Management Authority of the O.P. Competitiveness. Yet I would like to present in brief certain objectives we have set in the O.P. Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship for the next Programming Period.

By the end of the programming period 2007 – 2013, in terms of competitiveness, extroversion and entrepreneurship, the Greek economy must have covered the needs that follow:

  • must have achieved high competitiveness by strengthening its productive capacity and by upgrading its sectors and branches toward higher added value,
  • must have multiplied its extroversion and expanded its share in the global market of goods and services,
  • must be able to deal successfully with the challenges arising from the expansion of the European economic space and from ongoing deregulation of markets,
  • must have acquired the ability to incorporate the technologies that are best suited to its needs, to have developed a system for promoting innovation and for capitalizing on human resources, a system capable of adapting the generated innovation to local needs,
  • must implement sufficient domestic research and technological development to cover its present deficit in Research, Technological Development, Innovation compared with the EU – 25 average,
  • must become a reference point and a hub for diffusing development in the Balkan and the Mediterranean regions,
  • must successfully manage the right combination of the strategic role of the State, with constant expansion of entrepreneurship, also attracting outside activities that offer advanced know – how,
  • must have become largely independent of support from the EU Structural Funds, having contributed to the most essential common European objectives, successfully adapted to Greek conditions.

    It could be argued that the goal of covering the needs described in the previous paragraphs is a bit too ambitious. We believe that the the O.P. Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship has been designed in a realistic way. Our strategy has been drawn in full accord with the Lisbon Strategy, the EU Strategic Guidelines, and the National Reform Programme, while we have also included our own experience acquired during the implementation of the 3rd CSF.

    The magnitude and figures of the O.P. Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship are appropriately large for achieving the objectives stated above, and they are comparable to those of the current O.P. Competitiveness. More specifically, public spending under the O.P. Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship for the eight Regions amounts to approximately EUR 1,720 million. An additional amount of approximately EUR 1,500 million will come from transition Regions. The overall amount allocated to Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship actions during the period 2007 – 2013 will be approximately EUR 3,220 million, about the same as the initial the O.P. Competitiveness budget.

    With your contribution—with the collective efforts of everyone among us—we can make it happen..

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The O.P. "Competitiveness" is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Greek Government and private funds.
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