Policy stages: from EU to regional level

The development and implementation of EU Structural and Investment Funds is a shared responsibility between the European Commission (DG Regional Policy and DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion), EU Member States and Regions. This section provides information on how the ESI Funds are being managed at EU, national and regional levels and explains the interplay between the different political levels.

  1. Both the budget of the ESIF and the legislative package of the Cohesion Policy (Common Provisions Regulation) are jointly decided by the European Council and the European Parliament on the basis of a proposal from the European Commission.
  2. The ‘Reference Guide for Managing Authorities’ is developed by the Commission and Member States and is a short reference guide for ESIF managing authorities (MA) for establishing financial instruments in the 2014-2020 programming period. National and regional authorities align their own programming and adapt it to their own context and situation based on this Reference Guide.
  3. Member States define their country’s strategy propose specific programmes to implement the Funds with Partnership Agreements (PA). These also provide an overview of the economic strengths and weaknesses of the Member State’s regions and set out the approach to future ESIF spending across the country.
  4. The specific programmes set out in PAs are called ‘Operational Programmes’ (OPs), and present the priorities of the country and/or regions. Workers, employers and civil society bodies can all participate in the programming and management of the OPs.
  5. Partnership Agreements need to be submitted by Member States within four months of adopting the Common Strategic Framework. The European Commission then has three months to make observations on the Agreement, and within four months of submission should adopt it, provided that the Member State has adequately taken into account the observations made by the Commission.
  6. The Operational Programmes must be submitted by the Member States no later than three months following the submission of the PA. The Commission then has three months to make observations and must adopt the OP no later than six months from the date of its submission, provided that the Member State has adequately taken into account the Commission observations.
  7. Member States are responsible for the implementation and management of OPs. For every programme, a ‘Managing Authority’ will be designated (at national, regional or another level), which will inform potential beneficiaries, select the individual projects, and generally monitor implementation.
  8. The European Commission then commits the Funds to allow the countries to start spending on their programmes, and pays the certified expenditure to each country.
  9. Both the European Commission and the Member State concerned are responsible for the monitoring of each OP.
  10. Both the European Commission and the Member States submit strategic reports throughout the programming period. These reports include overview of the outputs and results delivered by Member States and regions, and progress that countries have made.

For more information, click here to access a collection of Guidance on the Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020.

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