The Greek government will allocate a new round of EU funds known as “ESPA” to remote islands for the construction or modernization of key infrastructure under the “Transport 2021-27” plan, which was approved by the European Commission this month.
More specifically, of the plan budgeted at 2.2 billion euros, 181 million euros has been slated for the improvement of accessibility and connectivity of the islands. Of this sum, approximately 80 million euros will be allocated to remote island ferry services.
Additionally, 760 million euros will go into the development of sustainable urban transport, 688 million euros into the completion and upgrade of road networks and the improvement of road safety, 485 million euros for the completion and development of the central and suburban railway network, and 89 million euros for air and sea navigation safety.
Commenting on the news, Shipping Minister Yannis Plakiotakis said the secured funds is a “radical change securing not only steady and more frequent ferry connections between the islands and mainland and among each other, but also the quality upgrade of the services provided, with better port infrastructure and incentives for the introduction of newer ‘green’ ships”.
Plakiotakis went on to refer to the many expected benefits for island residents and local communities. The minister said the funding is a “significant step” which comes after the 136-million-euro increase in funding to remote island ferry lines in the three previous years and the creation of 24 new routes.
Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis said the new program “lays the foundations and contributes decisively to the start of a new era for infrastructure projects across Greece”.
Karamanlis added that the projects were focused on keeping Greece on track to development in a constantly changing and unfavorable international environment.
“Critical infrastructure projects with a significant multiplier effect on the economy will solve serious problems for local communities and make the everyday lives of citizens better,” he said.