During the period Spring to Autumn 2016, programme implementation has progressed although this has taken place against a background of uncertainty. The ongoing recovery from the recession, the pressures of migration and the consequences of the UK major challenge is to ensure good quality evaluations (proposal and reports), particularly in thecontext of a limited evaluation market and increased requirements for the evaluationmethodologies. Payments related to the 2007-13 programme period are now in most instances well abovethe 90 percent threshold. Payments in 2014-20 are limited at this stage of programme implementation, not least due to the pending approval of the MCSs. Some partners have noted a clear improvement in the quality of project applications in 2014-20, not least due to the narrower focus of the programmes and the more demanding application criteria.
Although many of the new requirements are generally welcome, they have also become well-worn with some partners noting ‘exhaustion’ amongst the various stakeholders and a cautious approach to any ‘new’ measures. Implementation continues to be affected by the strict interpretation of regulations and guidelines, pending ex-ante conditionalities (EACs) and action plans, ongoing development of the IT/monitoring systems, and the approval of management and control systems. Some OPs and PAs have or are undergoing revisions in particular concerning various technical and financial adjustments. Programme amendments are also anticipated following the review of the Cohesion policy allocations for Member States in June 2016 for the 2017-20 period, which will alter the financial allocations of 16 Member States. First evaluations are under way or in early stages of planning in most IQ-Net programmes, and in many cases focussed on the ex post evaluations of the 2007-13 programme period.