I. Natural and Demographic Characteristics
The Local Union of Municipalities and Town Councils of Attica (T.E.D.K.N.A.) is a union of 102 municipalities and 20 town councils within the boundaries of the Attica region and the islands of the Argo-Saronic Gulf. The union represents 4.5 million citizens, most of whom live in Athens, in the port city of Piraeus and on the coast of Attica.
Attica is an urban peninsula which borders on Corinth to the west and the Boeotian plain to the north. It includes the mountains of Ymittos, Penteli and Parnitha as well as the Marathon lake. The area is a metropolitan centre that attracts commercial activities, international organizations and business opportunities.
II. History and Culture
Democracy and the Olympic spirit are the two elements that characterize the history and culture of Attica, which go back 6,000 years. The Minoan and Mycenean civilizations, and later the Greek city-states, emerged across the Greek peninsula reaching great levels of prosperity. This resulted in an exceptional cultural development, expressed in architecture, tragedy, drama, science and philosophy, which was nurtured in Athens under a democratic environment. The concept of “Agora”, the open place for assembly that most promoted and set the basis for democracy is also rooted in the Attica tradition.
From antiquity, Athens has been a cultural and spiritual centre as well as the inspiration for western civilization, and continues to be a centre of philosophy and culture, attracting archaeological and historical researchers from all over the world. Nowadays, Athens has a significant number of universities, libraries, architectural masterpieces, museums, theatre performances, art exhibitions, cultural centers and concerts.
In addition, the revival of the Olympic Games in 1896 shows the city’s high level of involvement not only at the intellectual level, but also at the physical as well. The successful organization of the Olympic Games and the Special Olympics in 2004 gave 201 nations, more than 10.000 athletes, and thousands of visitors from all over the world the opportunity to meet in the capital of Greece in a competitive and peaceful atmosphere.
III. Social and Economic features
In the second half of the 20th century, Attica developed into a large urban centre attracting both internal and external migrants due to the variety of employment opportunities. In just one decade the immigration flow increased by a large scale. In 1991, the immigration percentage was only 1.6%, in contrast with today’s increase, that has exceeded 10% (almost 1,000,000 immigrants, 700,000 of them living in Attica). The area is a melting pot of numerous nationalities. These immigrants have crossed the borders to find better living conditions. The integration of immigrants still constitutes one of the greatest challenges for Attica and considerable efforts are being made towards implementing an immigration policy that will lead to the area’s further development.
The economy of Attica is based mostly on activities related to the tertiary sector. The tertiary sector (e.g.. business and services) makes up 77.7% of the GDP; 35% of the country’s entrepreneurs are to be found in the Attica region. The growth of capital investment, multinational companies and the increase of tourism in Athens contribute to its remarkable economic development. The rapid expansion of the metropolitan area during the 1990’s led to its over-urbanization. Consequently, several private Greek and international companies were encouraged to establish themselves on the outskirts of Attica.
Almost 21.7% of the GDP comes from the secondary sector, including the following areas: mine 0.2%, processing industries 11.6%, energy 1%, manufacturing and construction 8.9%. The shipbuilding yards of “Skaramagkas” and “Eleusina”, the expansion of the port of Lavrion (situated near the Cape Sounion) and the continuous growth of international industries on the outskirts of Athens have led to the massive urbanization of the city, which has resulted in more employment opportunities.
Furthermore, the highway road network construction, the metro expansion to the northern and eastern suburbs of the city and the “regeneration” of the tram system has contributed to an upgraded national and international transportation network. The real development boost to the city took place during the years 2000-2004 due to the construction of the Olympic Complex including brand new sport stadiums and facilities.
The primary sector occupies only 0.6% of the GDP in Attica. The Islands in the Argo-Saronic Gulf are active mostly in the field of fisheries. Being mainly an urban area, Attica has little activity in the agricultural sector.
III. DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES AND OBJECTIVES
The contribution of the E.U. Structural Funds is a determinative one concerning Attica’s infrastructure development. For example, the “Attiki Odos” belongs to the first generation of co-financed projects awarded in Greece during the ’90s and it essentially laid the foundation for the execution of future successful concession contracts in Greece. Furthermore, the EU has contributed to other significant infrastructure projects such as the construction of the new International Airport (El. Venizelos) and the “Attica Metro” that have led to the area’s growth, the sustainability of tourism and the improvement of the citizens’ living standards.
Participation of T.E.D.K.N.A. in EU Programs
The majority of the municipalities belonging to T.E.D.K.N.A have implemented E.U. projects in the field of social policy, transnational cooperation, culture, environment, research and innovation under the initiatives EQUAL, INTERREG, CULTURA, LEADER, 6th Framework Programme, LIFE, Information Society, and Intelligent Energy etc.
A short list of implemented projects is given below:
FLEXLEARN: The use of digital technology in education. (FP7)
ALES: Art Laboratories in European Schools. (CULTURA 2007)
OPEN DOOR: Promotion of equal opportunities for minorities. (YOUTH IN ACTION)
ATHINA: Promotion of the equality in the job market for women technicians. (EQUAL)
IDEA: Raising the awareness of employment opportunities. (EQUAL)
CRESENT: Organization of a centre for regional, social and cultural entrepreneurship in tourism. (EQUAL)
ANTICIPATION: Promotion of IT technologies in SMEs. (ADAPT)
The development planning of Attica focuses mainly on the cultural heritage, economic growth, employment and improvement of the region’s infrastructure. In particular its priorities are:
- sustainable urban development in terms of sustainable environmental solutions,
- participation in EU initiatives concerning climate change and the