IQ-Net: Building effective administrative capacity in the management of EU Structural Funds

The IQ-Net network was created in 1996 as a forum for exchange between national and regional authorities managing programmes funded by European Structural Funds. Its purpose is clear: to raise the quality of Structural Fund management and administrative capacity through the sharing of experience, expertise and mutual learning.

More than just a network, IQ-Net orchestrates an in-depth programme of research and knowledge exchange, delving into topical and emerging topics related to the design, management, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Structural Funds programmes and projects.
The cross-regional comparative research papers, prepared for the bi-annual IQ-Net Conferences, shed light into the diverse practices among the IQ-Net partners, revealing solutions, ‘good practices’ and innovative examples.

The findings of the latest research carried out for the 55th IQ-Net Conference, held in December 2023 in Hungary, touch upon one of the key purposes of IQ-Net, namely capacity building. The paper, entitled (‘Administrative Capacity-Building in 2021-27 – Priorities, Strategies  and Implementation’), examines the priorities, strategies and implementation of administrative capacity building. The management of Cohesion Policy programmes is complex and crucial in the EU, requiring robust administrative capacity to ensure timely, legal and effective spending. The paper explores how administrative capacity building is articulated over the period 2021-27 and the value of the various support instruments and tools available.

Another research paper prepared for the Conference (‘Barbenheimer: Managing Funds with different tonalities simultaneously’), which reviews the state of play with programme implementation, highlights a number of key challenges (e.g. coordination of different funding streams, overlap between programme periods, capacity of beneficiaries …) that programme managers have encountered and the strategies they have deployed to overcome these. It also provides a deep dive into two crucial areas where alignment with other funding streams is essential: the use of financial instruments to support business growth and the exploitation of the flexibility available in Cohesion Policy to promote vocational training and skills.

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