European Structural funds: Interreg increasing co-finance and open data access to funds usage

by João Palma

EURAF's vice-president, João Palma, attended the DG Regional and Urban policy 10th Structured dialogue with European structural and Investment Funds’ Partners group of experts. With these meetings the European commission wants to establish a regular dialogue with non-governmental organizations, socioeconomic interest groups, civil society organizations, and trade unions concerning the development and implementation of the new programme 2021-2027), in particular the European Structural Fund (ESF+).

Around 700 amendments have been proposed for the current ESF+ proposal. A key aspect of this financial instrument is its increasing budget to 120.5 billion €. Another change of potential interest for agroforestry is the increase of the territorial cooperation (INTERREG) goal to 3% of total funding. In this program, there will be an increase of co-financing rates from 70% to 85%. INTERREG EUROPE and URBACT will be reintroduced. It was assured that, even after new presidency/elections all the work of the current proposal won’t be changed. It’s a continuing process at institutional level and elections/change of presidency should not hamper the ongoing efforts for the current proposal. Launch events in all member states will be held in March and April 2019 to present country reports and kick-off dialogue on the future of programming of the cohesion policy funds.

Commission ready to start informal dialogue to do as much progress as possible in 2019. Commission will ask Member States to prepare their road maps by the end of 2019. A technical seminar on programming with managing and coordination authorities will be held on the 14th June.

Note on Brexit no-deal scenario. The UK will continue to have access to funds in 2019, provided that UK honors their current obligations.

Open Data demonstration

A demonstration was done regarding the new transparency tool exploring daily up to date funding status of the different European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF): the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Cohesion Fund (CF), European Social Fund (ESF), European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and Youth Employment Initiative (YEI). The database is open source and available to scavenge in the different types.

A general congratulation by the participants was given to this tool. EURAF raised the question of exploring the dataset for analysis to support the identification and help the measures which are struggling with the expenditure to improve efficiency of the funds expenditure. EC said that this is at early stages as this was created with an ad-hoc idea and there are lots of ideias. But the realistic goal for now is to keep it going to monitor until the end of 2020 Programme. But there are future thoughts and PhDs working on the database and tool right now and analysis of the data can be one of the utilities. The tool is available here and EC invites everyone to create an account to create custom visualizations and embed on their own websites.