A snapshot of the present and a glimpse of the future of Cohesion policy. Review of programme implementation Summer-Autumn 2011

Cite as: Kah, S. (2011) A snapshot of the present and a glimpse of the future of Cohesion policy. Review of programme implementation Summer-Autumn 2011. IQ-Net Review Paper Vol. 29, No.1, European Policies Research Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

The rate of financial implementation has improved across the EU27, with theaverage payments rate now at 30.3 percent (November 2011). Although the financial progress of IQ-Net partner programmes is mostly deemed to be satisfactory, the absorption of EU funding before the n+2(3) rules lead to decommitment remains an issue of concern for some programme authorities. Public procurement has been one of the main regulatory concerns. The introduction of simplified cost options continues to preoccupy a number of IQ-Net managing authorities. In response to implementation challenges, many programme authorities have undertaken programme amendments or are planning to do so. A large number of audits have been carried out by both the domestic audit authorities and EU-level bodies such as the European Court of Auditors and the European Commission. Many programme authorities are concerned by the high audit burden. Proportionality is a recurring theme especially with smaller programmes. IQ-Net programme authorities have continued their evaluation efforts, in particular in terms of mid-term evaluations.

Looking at the 2007-13 delivery framework, the main issues that need improvement are audit arrangements, closure procedures and general management and control. On the other hand, most programme managers seem broadly content with project generation and selection, programme design, partnership, publicity and communication and evaluation. The general thrust of the regulatory proposals for 2014-20 is welcomed, but there are concerns about proportionality of regulatory arrangements as well as range of specific provisions.

Preparations for the 2014-20 programme period are at varying stages. While some Member States have not yet started, others have set up working groups and platforms, organised events to involve stakeholders, prepared first documents and organised information events for programme managers. While it is still early to review strategic content changes, some programme authorities believe that the current orientation will remain largely unchanged. In terms of finance, there is a mix between programme authorities that expect a similar budget and others that anticipate quite significant losses. Many programme authorities do not plan any major structural and administrative changes, although simplification efforts may entail a reduction in the number of programmes.

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