Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday chaired a meeting with the governors of the 13 regional authorities in Greece, inaugurating the holding of regular bimonthly meetings to improve cooperation between regional authorities and central government. The key items on the agenda were regional growth and social cohesion.
Speaking at the start of the meeting, the prime minister said the goal was for the meeting to become established as an institution and to discuss specific issues relating to the best possible cooperation of central government with the regions, noting that the initiative was among his pre-election pledges.
He noted that the ministers of the interior, development, state and several of the government staff will be sitting in on the first meeting to outline the way in which these meetings should work going forward and set out a specific agenda on the basic goals concerning regional development policy.
Mitsotakis raised three main issues that needed to be addressed, the first of which was cooperation to draw up a national policy on issues of regional growth.
"We have with us the development and investments minister, we will have with us the secretary-generals responsible for implementing the NSRF, in order to see how we can accelerate the financing processes that concern the regions," Mitsotakis said, noting that the sums involved came to 5.6 billion euros . "It is crucial that there are no delays in implementing the NSRF," he added, and that these policies were in step with central development policy.
The second key issue was social cohesion, where he said that regions had an important role to play. Mitsotakis pointed out that the central theme at this year's Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) will be "Growth for all. No one left behind." The regions were extremely important for ensuring that all Greeks could benefit from the wealth created and to support those that were weakest.
The third issue raised by the prime minister was a draft bill on multi-level governance, noting that this was a "bold institutional reform that will make clear the boundaries of responsibility between central government, decentralised regions, regional administration and primary-level local government."
This would reduce bureaucracy and allow the regions to focus on their core mission, while allowing central government to plan and implement policies, know exactly what every level of government was supposed and empowered to do.
The prime minister said that the central liaison linking the regions with the prime minister's office will be the head of the government's coordination secretariat, Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Akis Skertsos.
"I hope that this will be an interactive process that will finally allow us to focus on what is most important: on providing solutions to the problems of the citizens and generating measurable results," Mitsotakis added.
The governors, on their part, presented the problems and challenges they face, as well as their immediate priorities in each region. They noted that their meeting with the prime minister, just days after taking over their new duties, was extremely important.
Those attending included Development and Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis, Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos, Minister of State Giorgos Gerapetritis, Deputy Interior Minister Thodoris Livanios and Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister in charge of coordinating the government's work, Akis Skertsos.