Policy News

POLICY NEWS

April I 2019

DWP updates: advice on ESF implementation post-29 April
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has written to local ESIF sub-committees to update them on the planned implementation of remaining European Social Fund (ESF) funding post-29 April. The letter reminds local partners that local calls need to have been endorsed by the local ESIF sub-committee and submitted to DWP for moderation through a local LEP lead before they can be published. The online appraisals and applications process has also been updated in line with recent European Commission recommendations such that the ECLAIMS system should be used from the outset rather than the current email-based process. This new online service to facilitate calls has a proposed launch date of Monday 29 April although DWP does say that this is subject to progress on other implementation activities in the meantime. All further questions can be directed to either the local ESF lead at the Managing Authority or to ESF.2014-2020@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK.


March I 2019


MEPs approve funding rules for Cohesion Policy post-2020
MEPs have voted to adopt new rules to support innovation, digitisation, energy transition, education and access to healthcare in all regions of the 27 EU Member State, but not the UK. 

These new rules will allow simplified procedures to boost locally driven projects and encourage smaller businesses to apply for funding. Structural Policy as a main policy for investments in all EU regions should continue on the one hand, and on the other should include measures linking effectiveness of funds to sound economic governance (macro-economic conditionality) limited to the suspension of commitment appropriations and not to payments.

The MEP’s report proposes a budget of €378.1bn in 2018 prices (12.5% more than the Commission's proposal of €330.6bn) for the 2021-2027 period. The European Social Fund+ receives a top-up of €17bn to a total of €105.7bn. The Cohesion Fund and cross-border investments are increased to €46.3bn and €11.3bn, respectively.

Less developed regions should keep benefitting from substantial EU support of up to 85% of co-financing, and additional funding should be set aside for outermost regions.
The legislative report proposes an increase to the co-financing rates compared to the Commission's proposal: 85% for less developed regions; 65% for transition regions; and 50% for more developed regions. The Cohesion Policy will focus more on demographic challenges, poverty and people with disabilities. 




February II 2019

 

DWP update on ESF Programme achievements and next steps
The Head of the ESF division at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has written to ESIF Sub-committees updating them on the success of meeting the European Commission’s N+3 claims target for 2018 and she thanked all those who took part in the process for their timely and accurate submissions. As a result of meeting the targets, she stated her confidence in the belief that the Youth Employment Initiative will continue up until the end of 2023 if the programme meets its 2019 N+3 claims target. She asks for more focus to be put on the Performance Framework targets where there is a shortfall in the priority axis 2 (PA2).

As for next steps and part of the planning process for 2019 calls, the DWP will be asking LEP areas to provide an indication of how much of their existing notional allocations they will be able to commit. 2019 calls will be launched using “business as usual” procedures until the autumn after which calls will be made with funds from the Reserve Fund under local governance mechanisms. The DWP asks for LEP areas to declare as early as possible any uncommitted funds and assures that this will not affect their application for funds in the future. The Head of the ESF also alerts LEP areas to some minor changes to their deliverable targets in several of their Investment Priorities.

MEPs reject proposals to link future regional funding to economic indicators
Lawmakers in the European Parliament have rejected linking economic indicators measuring how closely a Member State follows ‘economic governance principles’ contained within a proposal for a new regulation setting the financial rules for regional funding during the next budgetary period from 2021-27. The draft text, amended and voted on by MEPs in Strasbourg last week, removed several paragraphs from the original text proposed by the Commission as politicians showed their anger at making future funding conditional on ‘good economic behaviour’ by national-level authorities in relation to separate issues of national budgets. The text will now go to the Council for further consideration before a likely negotiation is opened between the two institutions on the final text.

In a related development, MEPs on the Regional Development Committee approved a report setting out funding targets they want to see included in a proposed regulation on Cohesion Policy in the next budgetary period put forward by the Commission. Overall, MEPs want to see more spent on green growth and innovation with increased proportions of funding allocated to ‘transition’ and ‘less developed’ regions. The Committee’s report will now be passed to a plenary session of the Parliament where MEPs will be asked to approve the Committee’s suggested amendments and negotiating mandate as it discussed further with the European Commission and Council.


December 2018

ESF Project Extensions
The Head of the ESF at the Department for Work and Pensions has written to Local ESIF sub-committees outlining the procedure for applications to extend current ESF projects. Given that the procedure for discretionary grant awards are required by national and European law to be non-discriminatory and transparent, existing ESF Projects will need to submit an application via an open call for proposals. Therefore, all applications for extension will need to go through the “ESF single-stage” application process with all other applications received via that call. As the process is competitive, the Managing Authority (MA) cannot guarantee that the application for extension will be successful. However, the MA may consider some discretions for existing projects:

  • a ‘time only’ extension may be awarded to a project at risk of ending, to enable it more time to submit an application;
  • an appraisal may be conducted (in the usual way) if there is only one applicant against an ESF open call that is already delivering an ESF Project in the same LEP Area under the same Investment Priority or, the project may be asked to submit a project change request for the same extension proposal and the application is put ‘on hold’ on a temporary basis;
  • The project change request process may also be applied to non-competitive arrangements such as, Co-Financing Organisation projects and Intermediate Body Technical Assistance projects. Appraisals of projects in this process will consider, inter alia, value for money and fit with domestic priorities;
  • The project change request process may also be applied to projects where there is no additional funding on offer, but where there may be a valid reason to consider a ‘time only’ extension. Additionally, this option may apply to projects performing to a satisfactory standard but may need short-term extension to fully deliver their current Funding Agreement commitments;
  • Some exceptions to the standard project extension processes may be considered by the MA such as, using a combination of open call and project change requests and if this is the case, the MA will communicate this directly to applicants. This exception was applied to Youth Employment Initiative and Technical Assistance project extensions.

The ESF Managing Authority LEP Leads will be in contact with LEP areas “shortly” to discuss their plans for future open calls and commitment for the remaining ESF notional allocation.

Update: Extension of existing Building Better Opportunities (BBO) projects
Further to the announcement by the Department for Work and Pension to extend BBO projects, the Head of ESF at the Managing Authority has written to ESIF sub-committees informing them that LEP areas had until 30 November to submit their expressions of interest.
LEP areas will only be able to “over commit against the existing Investment Priority 1.4 notional allocation” if there is insufficient remaining allocation in the IP and, if there is an overspend, they would need to fund it from the overall Priority Axis 1 allocation.

November 2018


Update: Prioritising N+3 target work within the ESF Managing Authority
The Head of the ESF Division at the DWP has written to Local ESI Funds Sub-committees with an update on its progress in processing claims for reimbursement by the European Commission.  From approvals and authorisation of claims thus far, £1.1 bn spend has been declared, of which the Managing Authority (MA) has been able to authorise £989m to date. The MA thanks all grant recipients for their timely submission of claims and response to requests for additional information which will continue until the end of the year. Also, the MA reminds LEP areas to continue to develop plans for how they will commit funds until the end of the programme by the first week of December. LEP Leads will be in touch with LEP areas during mid December to discuss these plans.

October I 2018

DWP is prioritising N+3 target work for 2014-20 ESF Programme
The Director of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Catherine Blair, has written to local ESIF Sub-Committees to inform them that the Managing Authority has started to focus its resources on processing claims to achieve the European Commission’s N+3 target. The N+3 target requires that funds are paid, certified and claimed from the Commission within three years of the year in which they are allocated. Consequently, during October and November, DWP staff will not be able to attend ESIF Sub-committee meetings and LEP area/local stakeholder meetings. However, all planned Calls for Proposals will continue to be published and administered as per the timetable published in August. Dr Blair requests that the DWP is only contacted on urgent matters during the next two months.

Continuation of Lottery Fund investment in the Building Better Opportunities Programme
The EU Programme Manager at the Big Lottery Fund has written to local ESIF Sub-Committees to confirm that lottery funding will continue to be invested in the Building Better Opportunities programme (BBO) until 2023. The Big Lottery Fund requests that ESIF Committee members provide feedback on their interest in receiving further investment by the Lottery Fund. However, the decision to extend BBO projects until 2023 is subject to satisfactory performance of existing projects against targets. The Big Lottery Fund is currently undertaking a review of the performance of existing projects and will contact ESIF Sub-Committee members in the near future, with a list of projects that are eligible for extension and how much more ESF and Big Lottery Fund investment would be needed. The Big Lottery Fund intends to liaise with local LEPs to co-ordinate responses and comments to this proposal.


September II 2018

All LEADER funding to be allocated by March 2019
March 2019 has been set as the target date by which UK government have asked LEADER groups to make all funding commitments. It’s understood that the majority of groups are already well on track to commit before or at end of March 2019.   

Where necessary, there may be flexibility over the target date and UK government have been told that the Rural Payments Agency are currently discussing this with all 79 groups. It is well understood that post-March 2019 LEADER groups will still have a lot of work to follow through on the commitments and ensure that projects are delivered (or where projects drop out that they identify alternative ones).      

The official statement from Defra states:

“On the 24th July the Government announced an extension of the European Structural and Investment Fund guarantee period, enabling the commitment of RDPE funds throughout 2019 and 2020 even if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. In view of the strong performance of the LEADER programme overall, and the efforts already made by Local Action Groups the vast majority of which are already on track to commit their funding before end March 2019, in line with the previous guarantee, there are currently no plans to change the target date by which LEADER funds should be committed.  As has always been the case, LAGs and accountable bodies will continue to have an important role in overseeing project delivery beyond the point all funds are committed.”

European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund projects (ERDF) Grants if there’s no Brexit deal
Government has published guidance on how organisations receiving or applying for ESF and ERDF grants would be affected if the UK leaves the EU with ‘no deal’. The advice is that in the event of a no deal scenario, “UK organisations would be unable to access EU funding for ESF and ERDF projects after exit day (29th March 2019)”.

However, the government has committed to ensuring that there will be no gap in funding in the event of a no deal and has provided guarantee of continuing funding for all EU projects that would have been funded by the EU under the 2014-2020 programme period. Existing national and local arrangements will be administered by Managing Authorities to ensure continuation of ESF and ERDF funded projects.  Projects will be managed in accordance with “wider rules on public spending” to ensure that all spending delivers value for money and meet local priorities as well as having appropriate audit, monitoring and evaluation arrangements in place.

Government advises UK organisations to continue to apply for ESF and ERDF funding “with confidence that the funding guarantee applies if there is no negotiated agreement between the UK and the EU”.

September I 2018

DWP letter on the management of the ESF England 2014-2020 Programme
Catherine Blair, Director of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has written to local ESI Funds Sub-Committees to confirm an uprate in the current value of LEP area notional allocations. Dr Blair confirms that the new exchange rate is €1=£0.87, which will release an additional £315m notional allocations to LEP areas across England. DWP intends to establish a Reserve Fund to allow for flexibility to meet further exchange rate fluctuations as well as address specific local needs. Dr Blair cannot formally confirm the revised notional allocation figures for each individual LEP area until the European Commission has approved the revised Operational Programme but has said that she will write to each LEP area in early September with provisional revised allocations. Formal confirmation of revised allocations is expected to be communicated during the autumn.

DWP will be asking LEP areas for their plans to commit additional funds within 12 months of the revised allocations being notified. Any uncommitted funds will be added to the Reserve Fund. DWP are in the process of setting the criteria and application process for the Reserve Fund and will inform the Growth Programme Board of its progress.

July II 2018


UK Government extends EU funding guarantee
The Government has announced an extension to the guarantee on ESI funds which will apply in the event of a no deal Brexit scenario. This means Government will continue to sign new projects in the event of a no deal after EU exit, throughout 2019 and 2020, to the full value of the ESIF programme allocations.

In addition, HM Treasury will also guarantee funding for UK organisations which successfully bid directly to the European Commission - through projects like Horizon 2020 and Erasmus - until the end of this EU budget period if no deal is agreed. Further information about how the guarantee will be implemented will be published over the coming months.

 


July I 2018

European Social Fund impact evaluation: research design and scoping study
Ecorys has published a paper outlining the findings from a research design and scoping study which it carried out on behalf of by the Department for Work and Pensions. The result of the study will be used to support the design of a “robust and cost-effective impact evaluation” for the 2014-2020 ESF programme, examining the extent to which the Programme has met employment and social inclusion challenges and supported skills development.

June III 2018

 


Possible extension of the Big Lottery's Building Better Opportunities Programme

The EU Programme Manager at the Big Lottery Fund has written to members of the ESIF Sub Committees informing them that it is considering extending the Building Better Opportunities Programme when it comes to an end in 2019/2020. The Big Lottery Fund will make contact with ESIF Committees to better understand their interest in any potential extension of BBO projects and use the responses to inform its decision making process during the autumn of this year.  If the decision is made to extend the programme, it will publish a call outlining the selection criteria.

June II 2018

Study on the use and intended use of simplified cost options in ESI funds
Did you know that Simplified Cost Options (SCOs) are used in 73% of ERDF/CF operational programmes? And in 50% of ERDF/CF projects? Are you aware that 41% of ERDF/CF managing authorities say that they will use the additional SCOs possibilities in the soon-to-be adopted Omnibus Regulation? And that the majority of managing authorities insist on greater support in using SCOs?

For more information on use and intended use of SCOs, please consult the study Use and intended use of simplified cost options in European Social Fund (ESF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Cohesion Fund (CF) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

Letter from DWP to LEP Area ESIF Sub-Committees: EFSA Transition Programme
The Head of the DWP ESF Division, Emma Kirkpatrick, has written to ESIF Sub-Committees urging LEPs to opt-in to the Education Skills and Funding Agency (EFSA) Transition Programme starting in April 2019. In recognition of the role and value of EFSA provision including match funding capability and, to support LEPs who wish to opt-in to the EFSA offer, the DWP Managing Authority has developed a flexible criteria including, the flexibility to over commit by an amount of up to 15% of existing notional allocations. The deadline for expressions of interest to the EFSA is 13th June.

Noting that not all LEPs may want to opt-in to the EFSA offer but wanting to ensure that they all have the facility to commit to the ESF programme beyond current notional allocations, the MA is looking into other longer term options to enable LEPs to apply for additional funds across the programme. The MA expects to confirm these options following the Growth Programme Board meeting on 19th June.
 

June I 2018

ESF+ post 2020 Draft Regulation
The European Commission has published a draft regulation for the new ESF+ fund post 2020. To enhance synergies, simplification and flexibility of fund management and ultimately, to achieve concrete results, the Commission’s proposal is to merge the programmes below to invest in people and fully implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, which sets out the principles for equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions, strong social protection and inclusion:

 

  • European Social Fund (ESF);
  • Youth Employment Initiative (YEI);
  • Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD);
  • EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI);
  • The Health Programme.

The Commission proposes a total budget €101bn for ESF+ of which:

  • €100bn will be allocated to the ESF;
  • €761mn to the Employment and Social Innovation Programme;
  • €413mn for the Health Programme.

The priorities of ESF + will include:

  • Enhancing the effectiveness of labour markets and promoting access to quality employment;
  • Improving access to and the quality of education, training and lifelong learning;
  • Promoting social inclusion and tackling poverty.

Member States shall support actions of social innovation and social experimentations, and/or strengthen bottom-up approaches based on partnerships involving public authorities, the private sector and civil society such as the Local Action Groups designing and implementing community-led local development strategies. Member States shall concentrate:

  • At least 25% of ESF+ funds on actions fostering social inclusion and tackling poverty;
  • At least 2 % to the specific objective of addressing material deprivation (food and goods);
  • 10% on Youth Unemployment - where they have a NEET rate (age group 15 – 29) above a given threshold - to target action and structural reforms supporting young people. In the case of outermost regions with a NEET rate above the threshold, the allocation is increased to 15%.

May I 2018

Regions and cities left unimpressed by EU budget proposals
The European Commission’s proposed new long-term budget contains a proposal for a 7% cut and a total budget of €442 billion in 2018 prices for cohesion policy. 

The main element of the Commission’s proposal is its effort to align further cohesion policy to the European Semester and the structural reforms the member states have to implement through their National Reform Programmes.

A new envelope called Reform Support Programme allocated with €25 billion divided in three separate and complementary programmes:

The Reform Delivery Tool, (€22 bn) aiming to provide financial support to the member states to implement structural reforms in the context of European Semester.

The Convergence Facility, (€2.16 bn) that will facilitate the member states wishing to join the euro, providing financial and technical support. 

The Technical Assistance Support Instrument (€840 million) is replacing the Structural Reform Support Programme and it will continue providing hands-on support to the member states on their reform process in the form of advisors, experts from other national administrations, international organisations etc.

The proposed level of cuts, the role of the European Social Fund, the co-financing rate and the budget that is moving from shared to direct management will now be the main topics of debate in the weeks ahead, before Commissioner Corina Cretu announces her legislative proposals for cohesion spending on 29 May.



April I 2018

UK government publishes position paper on future of cohesion policy
The document sets out the UK government’s position on future EU cohesion programmes (European Structural and Investment Funds), and reflections on the lessons learnt from the current programme cycle. Whilst the UK will not participate in the post-2020 cohesion programmes like ERDF or ESF, it is possible that it will seek to participate in specific cross-border European Territorial Cooperation (Interreg) programmes. The paper does not commit the UK to doing so, but it does leave open the possibility by acknowledging the positive contribution these programmes have made in the past. The UK government will monitor the development of the new post-2020 programmes and determine its participation only after Brexit in March 2019.
 
The government has committed to create a UK Shared Prosperity Fund, a domestic programme of investment after leaving the EU. It will consult on the design and priorities of the new fund later this year.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/699106/UK_position_paper_on_future_of_cohesion_policy_.pdf

Regions call on the EU to make an ambitious Interreg proposal
In an open letter to the European Commission, the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) stresses that European Territorial Cooperation, commonly known as Interreg, is a key objective of Cohesion policy and embodies the added value of the programme.

The CPMR letter reflects the views of EU ministers, including the UK government, on the added value of Interreg and stressing the importance of territorial cooperation, including across maritime borders with non-EU countries, like the North Sea.

CPMR is urging the European Commission to take the following messages into account in its upcoming EU budget proposals:
1) The Commission must not abandon maritime cross-border cooperation programmes. Maritime borders could cease being shared areas, and instead become barriers to cooperation. Maritime Member States and regions,including islands and outermost regions, must not be penalised due to their geographical handicaps, as this would further increase regional disparities across Europe.
2) European Territorial Cooperation Programmes require a strong and well-resourced budget for the post-2020 period. A Commission proposal with a reduced budget for the post-2020 period would threaten the very existence of Interreg.
3) Local and Regional authorities must remain at the core of cooperation programmes, macro-regional and sea basin strategies. If these programmes are to be successful, then regions must have greater involvement,accompanied by efforts to simplify Interreg for managing authorities, beneficiaries and EU citizens.

Recommendations of the ESF Transnational Platform for the next Multiannual Financial Framework
The ESF Transnational Platform has published its recommendations for the MFF post-2020 in which a number of its thematic experts urge for more transnationality, social policy experimentation and social innovation. Specifically, the recommendations include proposals on how to:

 

  • improve transnationality in the framework of the ESF;
  • achieve more impact on supporting all vulnerable groups to get out of poverty and social exclusion and to this end, to earmark 30% of ESF spend for combatting poverty, social exclusion and discrimination and;  
  • better implement the partnership principle.


March II 2018


Opportunity to extend ESF Technical Assistance projects - 2014-2020 ESF programme

The Department for Work and Pensions has published an Action Note alerting ESF beneficiary organisations delivering Technical Assistance (TA) projects that the current ESF/ERDF joint call for proposals for TA projects can be accessed to extend existing ESF TA projects. If you are interested in extending an existing ESF TA project please contact your ESF Contract Manager in the first instance. Applicants who are seeking to deliver a brand new ESF TA project must apply through the standard 2 stage application process. The process for extending existing ERDF TA projects differ and you should submit proposals for existing ERDF TA projects in an outline application form through the open call.  

Study Published: State aid and Cohesion Policy
The European Parliament’s Regional Development Committee has published a new study on ‘State aid and Cohesion Policy’. This study explains how the concept of state aid applies to operations co-financed by European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), considers how state aid rules interact with the ESIF rules which are laid down in the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) and proposes adjustments that facilitate the implementation of ESIF-supported projects in compliance with state aid rules.

In addition to the analysis of the concept of state aid and the link between state aid and ESIF, the study examines the differences and the related challenges and difficulties in the application of state aid and ESIF rules to projects for research, development and innovation (RDI) and financial instruments.

Although the UK will be leaving the ESIF programme after Brexit, the principles and issues at play around state aid and the future UK Shared Prosperity Fund, will still be important in the context of agreeing a new UK-EU trade deal and association agreement.

French Regions write to EU Brexit negotiator over future cooperation
A group of French regions, led by Finistère in Brittany, have written to EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, about the future arrangements between UK and French regions and local authorities. In their letter, they identify concerns over the future of Interreg and the implications of Brexit on universities, businesses, communities and people. The letter concludes by asking the EU to examine new means of cooperation with the UK, especially in the areas of fishing, transport, customs and the free movement of goods and people.

You can read the letter (in French) here.

 

March I 2018

RegioStars 2018 Applications Open
Applications for the annual RegioStars awards have opened. These awards recognise good practice in regional development. Only projects that have received support from the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Social Fund or the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) are eligible to apply. There are five award categories:

  • Supporting smart industrial transition
  • Achieving sustainability through low carbon emissions
  • Topic of the year 2018: Investing in cultural heritage
  • Creating better access to public services
  • Tackling migration challenges

If you feel your project deserves recognition, get in touch with the Programme Secretariat or Managing Authority of the funding programme. The deadline for submitting proposals is 15 April.


February II 2018

MEPs call for “ambitious cohesion policy”
Cohesion policy should continue to be a priority for the European Union and “provided with an ambitious funding, even in the light of pressures on EU budget”, said Regional Development MEPs.

Members of the Committee on Regional Development stressed in a report the “adverse effects of the economic and financial crisis”, especially for low-growth regions, which have reduced the margins of budgetary policies, producing public investment cuts. They called for cohesion policy to continue to be a priority for the Union and accordingly “provided with an ambitious funding, even in the light of pressures on EU budget”, while increasing the synergies with other EU funds and attracting complementary financial support via financial instruments in the post-2020 multiannual programming framework.

New EU guidance on public procurement published

The European Commission has published a new guide to support public officials across the EU to avoid the most frequent errors and adopt best practices in public procurement of projects funded by the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).

The guide helps to identify and avoid areas of potential risk of errors in public procurement, a major source of irregularities in the management of EU funds. By doing so, this tool will not only ensure regularity and transparency, but will also improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of public procurement with significant potential gains in terms of fair competition and quality of investments for the benefit of the public administrations, the companies involved and the end beneficiaries of the projects.


January II 2018

UK Shared Prosperity Fund consultation not expected until end of 2018
The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF), a potential domestic successor programme to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), will not now be consulted upon until the end of 2018, at the earliest.

Early stakeholder soundings took place in mid-2017, however, officials from the Ministry of House, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have now confirmed that a full consultation will not proceed until the end of 2018. Discussions are currently underway within government on the shape and scope of the potential Fund. Questions being discussed include the future balance between need versus opportunity and alignment with the Industrial Strategy and other domestic funds. 

At this stage, it’s not clear if future participation in Interreg programmes will form part of the SPF consultation, or if Interreg will have its own standalone consultation. 


January I 2018

Public consultation on EU funds in the area of cohesion (including Interreg)
The EU has published a new consultation on the future of cohesion funding post-2020. Whilst the UK will no longer be part of the EU’s cohesion policy after Brexit, it is possible that the UK will seek to remain part of cross-border programmes in the North Sea and English Channel area (Interreg). Therefore, partners are encouraged to participate in the consultation in order to highlight the continued added value and impact of Interreg programmes to their area and the region.

In 2018, the Commission will make comprehensive proposals for the next generation of financial programmes for the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework, which is the EU's long–term budget. Similar consultations have taken place in the context of evaluations of existing EU financial programmes in several policy areas, including on current performance and future challenges. The views expressed by stakeholders in these consultations will be taken into account in the current process for the future Multiannual Financial Framework. 

 


EU regions demand Brexit ‘compensation fund’
EU regions most exposed to Brexit want the European Union to create a special fund to mitigate the pain. Calls from across the EU to help cushion the impact of the UK’s departure come ahead of an intense push to draft the EU’s next long-term budget plan. The EU needs to find a mechanism for filling a €9 billion-per-year hole that will be left by the UK’s departure, but also reconciling competing visions of how the budget should be used to tackle major issues such as migration.

The demands for compensation — from regions, municipalities and provinces across the EU — are described in responses to a survey by the EU’s Committee of the Regions. They highlight the pressure on budget-makers in Brussels facing calls for more spending in several areas, including security and border control. 

“If the EU establishes a special fund for local cities and regions, it will be a good measure to avoid any negative consequences of Brexit in other EU countries,” wrote Strovolos municipality in Cyprus, for example. Likewise, a submission from the Andalusia region in Spain called on the EU to “create a fund for areas especially affected by Brexit.” Madeira wrote that the government of the autonomous region of Portugal “strongly recommends using European and other financial mechanisms, at regional and local level, to help offset the consequences for the outermost regions, as most of them and their municipalities will be affected by the UK’s departure from the EU.”




December II 2017

MEPs agree deal on “radical simplification” of EU Regional Policy until 2020
MEPs and Member States have agreed a deal on the simplification of the EU’s regional policy in the current period up to 2020. The agreement is designed to introduce “radical simplification, more flexibility and increased visibility of investments”. 

The main aim of the mid-term reform is to cut red-tape that puts extra administrative burdens on both the Managing Authorities and project promoters. The agreement seeks to increase the use of simplified cost-options and to minimise the number of necessary audits in order to strike a better balance between more flexibility for beneficiaries, while maintaining sufficient levels of stability for the authorities involved.

More flexibility will be given to use resources from all regional funds to deal with the challenges arising from integrating migrants and refugees. A new investment priority will be added to the European Regional Development Fund, enabling Member States and their local partners to better integrate migrants and refugees, by for example financing the renovation or construction of accommodation infrastructure.

The preliminary agreement with Member States will now need to be endorsed by MEPs on the Regional Development Committee, before it can get the green light by the full House in January 2018. It’s hoped that the new arrangements can be brought into law as soon as possible in early 2018 and will benefit the UK whilst it remains a member of the EU (and potentially through any transition period).

DWP Guidance on ESF Provision for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Groups
The Department for Work and Pensions has written to LEP area ESI Funds Sub-committees encouraging them to work with local Gypsy, Roma and Traveller group (GRT) representatives to develop future calls, in order to address the issues they face and to increase their participation in ESF provision. In response to concerns raised by GRT representatives about ESF provision availability and take up by their communities, the DWP has included a reference to these communities in a mid-programme review of the Operational Programme, due to be published late Autumn, and raised awareness of the high levels of discrimination, deprivation and inequality that they face. 

New study on Public Private Partnerships and Cohesion Policy
The European Parliament has published a new study on "Public Private Partnerships and Cohesion Policy". The research finds that the use of PPPs in Cohesion Policy has been limited and concentrated in a number of Member States and sectors, in spite of favourable regulatory changes. Evidence shows that PPPs are useful instruments to implement projects on time and on budget, but the assessment of outcomes over the long-term period is still limited and not conclusive. The study was requested by the Regional Development Committee.

 


 


December I 2017

Final meeting of the High Level Group on Simplification

The EU high level group of independent experts has held its last discussion on how to simplify access to EU funds and cut red tape in the management of funding programmes in the post-2020 Cohesion Policy. During the day they exchanged views with Commissioner for regional policy Corina Cretu and Commission experts on practical ways to implement the main proposals of their final report presented in July 2017.

The discussion focussed especially on 1) the preparation of future programmes and how to avoid delays 2) online methods and common indicators to make reporting by Member States and beneficiaries easier 3) simple and readymade solutions to reimburse costs and limit paperwork 4) more harmonised criteria to assess the performance of Cohesion policy investments and fewer, more proportionate controls.

The Commission proposal for the future Cohesion Policy is expected before the summer 2018, following the Multiannual Financial Framework proposal in spring 2018.

Commission and European Investment Bank launch new advisory service to help cities plan investments
URBIS, for “Urban Investment Support” will help cities plan investments to support their own urban development strategies and get easier access to finance.

Cities face particular challenges when it comes to accessing finance. Individual municipal projects, for example in the fields of social inclusion, urban regeneration or energy efficiency, can be too risky or too small for the market. At the same time, funding for integrated urban programmes can also be difficult to access, because they group several small projects across different sectors. Finally, cities can also face borrowing limits.

URBIS intends to help cities tackle these specific issues. It will help them design, plan and implement their investment strategies and projects, with tailor-made technical and financial advice, also on innovative financing options. The objective is to see solid projects get off the ground in the short to medium-term, for example in the field of urban climate actions.

URBIS will consist of European Investment Bank (EIB) experts from the institution's different advisory and project services, including EIB staff located across Member States and experts from JASPERS, the independent team specialised in preparing quality EU-funded projects.

Cities of all sizes in all Member States can apply for URBIS' support via a web page hosted on the European Investment and Advisory Hub.

November II 2017


Impact of Brexit on ESIF Programme 2014-2020
The LEP Network has raised its concern with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on a number of issues relating to the impact of Brexit on the current ESIF programme period. A highlight of the responses from DWP and ESFA to these concerns include:

Commitment of co-financing organisations and sources of eligible match for open calls
DWP has been working with 4 CFOs to establish their commitment for the remainder of the programme and expect to communicate the position of each CFO in due course. Guidance is available for match funding requirements however, there is not a list of sources of eligible match funding but DWP clarifies that match can be from both public and private funds. EFSA confirms that once it withdraws from programme delivery it will not continue to act as a public match funder and it will work with DWP on future match funding arrangements. DWP has requested feedback from the Network on barriers to “alternative match funding” and how they might be overcome.

Planning for calls
DWP has reorganised its structures to improve efficiency and has introduced new ways of planning calls. It operates a “rolling basis” for calls giving priority to calls:

 

  • That “fill known gaps in Programme provision” such as calls with a basic skills focus;For LEP areas that are not meeting their targets (N+3 and Performance Framework targets).
  • DWP calls on LEPs to identify gaps in their areas especially against Performance Framework targets and for LEPs to work with LEP Leads to develop future calls.

Value for money assessments and criteria
Delivering value for money (VfM) and ensuring projects meet domestic strategic priorities are the key conditions for Government (Growth Programme Board) to continue funding projects after the UK leaves the EU. VfM assessments involve more detailed evidence and focus on results and outputs. 

ESFA activity post July 2018: exit strategy/succession plan
ESFA hopes to outline the options that can be pursued locally by LEPs after its current contracted commitments come to an end, once it receives advice from ministers.

ESFA clarity on technical issues
In its response letter, ESFA clarifies its rules for progression payment and opportunities for learners including apprenticeship progressions, arrangements for LEPs to challenge delivery where it doesn’t align with agreed specifications and to raise issues concerning ESFA data management information to meet LEP requirements. ESFA confirms that the 14 credit rule cannot be changed but it has reviewed the Advanced Learner Loans Policy and is currently updating the “evidence requirements document” which will be published shortly. ESFA requests that LEPs approach their ESF Management and Delivery Manager to clarify issues.

Criteria and forms of acceptable auditable evidence for unemployed/inactive status
Guidance is available for CFOs and direct bid applicants explaining the definitions of unemployment and inactive status. Guidance is also available for gathering evidence for audit purposes. DWP is currently developing an “exemplar form” alongside the guidance provided which will be published in due course.

November I 2017

 

Introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and its impact on ESF
The new Apprenticeship Levy came into effect in April 2017 affecting all large organisations with an annual payroll of over £3 million, regardless of whether they employ apprentices or not. All employers, whether they pay the levy or not, are eligible for financial support by government where there is evidenced delivery of training and assessment activities as part of an apprenticeship scheme. 

The Department for Education has published a guidance note on how the levy impacts ESF funding where it is used as match funding. The guidance states that:
  • The Apprenticeship Levy can be used as match funding if the ESF project was  approved on or after 24 October 2017;
  • But, existing ESF grant recipients whose projects were approved prior to 24 October 2017, are unable to submit a request to use the Apprenticeship Levy as match;
  • Where the Apprenticeship Levy is being used as match funding, the applicant must describe what ‘additional’ eligible activities the ESF contribution will fund, such as mentoring / coaching etc. and must remain compliant with ESF rules;
  • Applicants cannot claim their levy contribution as a “direct salary cost” as the contribution does not form part of an employee’s salary package.

Security in public spaces – a priority for Urban Innovative Actions Programme?   
The European Commission would like to better understand the needs and approaches of urban authorities to security in public spaces with the expectation that this will form a new priority with the Urban Innovative Actions programme.     

Based on the outcomes of a structured survey, the future calls of the Urban Innovative Actions may address security challenges in public spaces. The fight against terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime are not among the thematic objectives set out in the Cohesion Policy Regulations. Nevertheless, investments which contribute to the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the Union may include measures addressing security challenges.

You are invited to complete the survey by the 15th November.



October II 2017

Commission publishes 7th Cohesion Report
The European Commission has published the 7th Cohesion report drawing lessons from cohesion spending during the crisis years and setting the scene for Cohesion Policy after 2020. Public investment in the EU is still below pre-crisis levels but regions and Member States need even more support to take up the challenges identified in the reflection paper on the future of EU finances; the digital revolution, globalisation, demographic change and social cohesion, economic convergence and climate change, the report states.

The report does not pre-empt the final proposal of the Commission but it fuels the discussion on Cohesion Policy after 2020. It suggests an EU-wide policy serving three main purposes: harnessing globalisation, leaving no one behind and supporting structural reforms.

A public consultation on the future Cohesion Policy will be launched in early 2018. In May 2018, the Commission's proposal for the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) will be presented, followed by the proposals for Cohesion Policy after 2020.



September II 2017

New E-library tool of good practices in ESIF public procurement
The European Commission will soon present a new tool for sharing good practice in order to improve the compliance and quality of public procurement across the EU. The e-library will be launched on 10th October in Brussels.

In the context of projects co-funded by the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds, sharing of good practices in the area of public procurement is expected to yield a number of tangible benefits for those involved in the process (contracting authorities, economic operators, etc.): improved efficiency and effectiveness, better value-for-money and less administrative burden are only some of them. The e-library is based on a deep research and analytical work and is one of the follow-up actions to the study on administrative capacity, systems and practices across the EU to ensure the compliance and quality of public procurement involving the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds. Both the study and the newly developed tool are part of the Commission's action plan on public procurement.

Eurostat regional yearbook 2017 published
The 2017 edition of the Eurostat regional yearbook has been published and provides a taste of the wide range of regional statistics available for the 276 NUTS level 2 regions (or even 1 342 NUTS level 3 regions for some indicators) of the 28 Member States of the EU as well as, when available, in EFTA and candidate countries.

The publication opens with an overview of regional policies in the EU and European Commission priorities at subnational level. Then follows four chapters on people: 'Population', 'Health', 'Education and training', as well as the 'Labour market'. They include, among others, information on the median age of the population in your region, on health determinants (such as obesity rates or alcohol consumption) by degree of urbanisation, on the gender gap for early leavers from education and training, or on mean annual earnings. It also covers research and innovation, transport, structural business statistics, tourism and agriculture amongst others.

September I 2017

EU payments made by the Commission to Member States under ESIF are now transparent
The Commission is now publishing on a daily basis details of the payments made to Member States under all the European Structural and Investments Funds (ESIF). By the end of August 2017 a total of €58 billion had been paid to the programmes co-financed by ESIF. These payments take the form of pre-financing (initial and annual) and interim payments reimbursing expenditure declared. The EU payment information is presented on the ESIF Open Data Platform in graphs showing the complete picture by year on a cumulative basis and overviews by Fund and by Member States.

July II 2017

State Aid - R&D tax credits 
The R&D tax credit scheme is operated by HMRC under Article 25 of GBER (Aid for Research and Development Projects) and could be accessed by a number of ERDF SME beneficiaries.  Colleagues may not be fully aware that these credits constitute a state aid.

If you are, or intend to deliver Research and Development activity which could be supported by this state aid route, you must check if the SME beneficiary has accessed or intends to access R&D tax credits. A beneficiary of the R&D credits is not permitted to receive additional state aid for the same costs.

E-CLAIMS update
The external pilot scheme, supporting the development and roll out of the E-CLAIMS system, continues. Sessions have been held with 6 of the 10 ERDF pilot organisations. Feedback so far has found the training to be informative, comprehensive and tailored to the applicants’ needs, according to DCLG. The sessions have also identified some usability issues which will be very helpful in improving the E-CLAIMS system going forward. Further news and updates from this pilot and forthcoming plans for the wider external roll out of the system will be included in future issues of this bulletin.

Why Region Development matters for Europe's Economic Future
"Why Region Development matters for Europe's Economic Future" by Michael Storper, Simona Iammarino and Andrés Rodriguez Pose is the latest edition of DG REGIOs Working Papers series.

The authors argue that regional economic divergence has become a threat to economic progress, social cohesion and political stability in Europe. Market processes and policies that are supposed to spread prosperity and opportunity are no longer sufficiently effective. The evidence points to the existence of several different economic clubs of regions in Europe, each with different development challenges and opportunities. Both mainstream and heterodox theories have gaps in their ability to explain the existence of these different clubs and the weakness of the convergence processes among them. Therefore, a different approach is required, one that would strengthen Europe’s strongest regions but would develop new approaches to the weaker clubs. There is ample new theory and evidence to support such an approach, which we have labelled “place-sensitive distributed development policy” (PSDDP).

Read more : Why Region Development matters for Europe's Economic Future




June III 2017

Call for participation: OECD / EU survey on investment in EU cities and regions
The EU and OECD have published a joint survey on financial, managerial and regulatory obstacles to investment experienced by local and regional authorities from all EU Member States. The survey is conducted by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in cooperation with the OECD.

The results of this survey will feed into the ongoing assessment of the implementation of the OECD Recommendations on Effective Public Investment across Levels of Government (expected end 2017 – early 2018). It will also be presented at the CoR ECON Commission meeting on 19th September 2017 and will feed into the CoR Resolution on the 2017 European Semester, planned for adoption at the Plenary Session on 10-11 October 2017. 

The survey should take no longer than 20 minutes to complete. 

Deadline for submissions: 28th July 2017

Survey HERE 

DCLG Continuous Improvement Survey
Last year DCLG embarked on a programme of Continuous Improvement to ensure that the services they provide are meeting stakeholder needs and are being delivered efficiently. As part of this work they have reviewed their application, appraisal and contracting processes for the ERDF Programme and it’s now time to reflect on the work that has been delivered to see if it has made a difference for stakeholders. They would also like to seek stakeholder views on other parts of the programme which have been recently introduced.

DCLG would value feedback through their Continuous Improvement survey on how you have found the changes they have made and to also seek your views on future work they could do.

The survey can be found HERE



June II 2017

MEPs approve changes to rules on funding for major natural disasters
The European Parliament has adopted new regulations to fund reconstruction operations following major natural disasters. The new regulation will amend the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy regulation by introducing a separate priority axis for reconstruction operations with a co-financing rate of up to 95% supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This help will be given to Member States and regions hit by major or regional natural disasters, like the winter floods in the UK in 2015/16 or the recent earthquakes in Italy, complementing the means already available under the European Union Solidarity Fund.

The starting date of eligibility of expenditure of beneficiaries will have retroactive effect in order to allow for the eligibility of expenditure incurred and paid from the date when the natural disaster occurred. The regulation will apply retroactively from 1 January 2014 and will be in force in the UK until the formal withdrawal of the UK from the EU. 

Earlier this year, the European Commission approved aid worth £52 million (€60 million) to the UK for the devastating floods in December 2015/January 2016. 

Cohesion Policy and climate change study published
The European Parliament’s Regional Development Committee has published a new study that examines experience of the mainstreaming of climate policy objectives into cohesion policy in the current (2014-2020) and earlier programming periods, including with respect to its urban dimension, and to territorial cooperation. It identifies the implications of the Paris
Agreement on climate change, and makes recommendations for further development of climate mainstreaming in cohesion policy in future programming periods.

ESF Transnational cooperation 2018 - start now for a successful project submission
The next call for proposals for transnational projects will be issued in January – February 2018 and the European Commission has established an Impact Task Force to support the capacity of Member States to launch and mainstream the activities of transnational calls. With a budget of €86.4 billion, the ESF is the main source of investment for improving the quality and effectiveness of employment and inclusion policies and for delivering reforms. 

The main purpose of ESF transnational cooperation is to develop better and more effective employment and social policies using innovative strategies gained from mutual learning of experiences and good practice.

The European Commission and Member States have agreed to focus the Common Framework for transnationality on nine themes reflecting the investment priorities:

  • employment
  • youth employment
  • learning and skills
  • inclusion
  • governance and public administration
  • migrants
  • social economy
  • simplification
  • partnership

To support member states in the development of transnational projects, the ESF Transnational Platform was established and it has put in place the following support mechanisms:

  • Thematic Networks - established to enable mutual learning among Member States and stakeholders to facilitate calls for proposals across all nine thematic areas. Throughout the programming period, the Networks will actively run workshops.
  • Partner search database  - project promoters can share their project ideas and search for projects to cooperate with. At the start of the year, 180 organisations have registered and 140 projects are recorded in the database.
  • Publications and events are regularly circulated and organised by the Platform to provide guidance and updates. 

UK organisations remain eligible for all EU funding whilst the UK remains a member of the EU. 



June I 2017

7th Cohesion Forum, 26-27 June, Brussels
The 7th Cohesion Forum, which will take place on 26-27 June 2017 in Brussels, is a large scale political event held every three years, bringing together more than 700 people including high level representatives from European institutions, central governments, regional and local representatives, economic and social partners, NGOs and academics. Keynote speeches will be delivered by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani. The event will include a number of additional keynote speeches, three panel debates and three parallel workshops on critical issues regarding the future of Europe and the future of the European Structural and Investment Funds 

The Forum will precede the adoption of the 7th Cohesion Report, so that the conclusions from the debate with civil society representatives may feed into the report.

The Forum will be live webstreamed. 

State aid: Commission simplifies rules for public investment in ports, airports and culture
The European Commission has approved new state aid rules that exempt certain public support measures for ports, airports and culture from prior Commission scrutiny. The objective is to facilitate public investment for job creation and growth whilst preserving competition.

The 2014 'General Block Exemption Regulation' enabled Member States to implement a wide range of State aid measures without prior Commission approval because they are unlikely to distort competition. As a result, about 95% of state aid measures implemented by Member States (with a combined annual expenditure of about €28 billion) are now exempted. For example, in the area of research, development and innovation the number of state aid notifications has halved since 2014. The Commission has now extended the scope of this Regulation to ports and airports.

As regards airports, Member States can now make public investments in regional airports handling up to 3 million passengers per year with full legal certainty and without prior control by the Commission. This will facilitate public investment in more than 420 airports across the EU (which account for about 13% of air traffic).

The Regulation also allows public authorities to cover operating costs of small airports handling up to 200,000 passengers per year. These small airports account for almost half of all airports in the EU but only 0.75% of air traffic. 

With regard to ports, Member States can now make public investments of up to €150 million in sea ports and up to €50 million in inland ports with full legal certainty and without prior control by the Commission. The Regulation allows public authorities to cover the costs of dredging in ports and access waterways.

In addition, the Regulation includes a number of new simplifications in other areas. In particular, the Commission will only look at bigger state aid cases that involve a higher amount of aid for culture projects (and only if these measures actually constitute state aid, which in most instances is not the case) and for multi-purpose sports arenas.

The Amending Regulation together with an explanatory note, is available HERE

Study published on 2007-2013 programme closure
The European Parliament’s Regional Development Committee (REGI) has published a study Martin Ferry, researcher of the European Policies Research Centre (University of Strathclyde) on "Lessons learnt from the closure of 2007-13 programming period". The objective of this study is to provide the European Parliament’s REGI Committee with a comprehensive and systematic analysis of the closure process for programmes funded under ERDF in 2007-13. 

Programme closure is often seen as a purely technical process, however it also plays a role in terms of absorption targets, in shaping interventions and in terms of administrative pressures on programme authorities. The study focuses on the key lessons, insights and examples of good practice, particularly with a view to the progress of the 2014-20 closure arrangements. This study was requested by the REGI Committee and commissioned by the Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies.

The report is currently only available as a paper copy, we are currently waiting for a PDF version to be made available.




May II 2017


Cohesion Policy: free choice of funding mix, based on national and regional needs

Delivery
of EU Cohesion Policy consists of a mix of grants and financial instruments (microfinance, loans, guarantees, equity and venture capital) invested through the European Structural and Investment Funds. MEPs recently stressed in a non-binding resolution, that all member states and regions should be able to choose the most appropriate combination of grants and financial instruments, based on the priorities in their respective operational programmes. The European Parliament resolution also calls for the following changes in cohesion policy:

  • Binding targets should no longer be applied for the use of financial instruments in post-2020 cohesion policy;
  • State aid rules need to be simplified especially when combining grants with financial instruments;
  • Technical assistance activities should be streamlined to increase information and transparency related to them and;
  • Establishment of a network of info-points to enable potential beneficiaries to learn about available sources of funding, operational programmes and open calls, as well as to learn how to fill in application forms and implement projects.

For more information go to the European Parliament newsroom.

Increasing the visibility of the benefits of EU cohesion policy
MEPs responsible for regional development have called for more effective communication strategies that are capable of conveying an accurate message to citizens on the benefits of the European project for their quality of life and prosperity. Cohesion policy is the main drive of growth in the EU but it appears that the positive outcome is less known to citizens. MEPs in the Regional Development Committee suggested possible ways to improve future communication including:

  • increase the coordination and accessibility of existing communication at EU level;
  • highlight the benefits that cohesion policy brings to the real economy (i.e. it fosters innovation and creates jobs and growth);
  • facilitate access to information;
  • develop a communication strategy for digital and social media, create more accessible mobile-based content and provide information in different languages;
  • establish an overview of target audiences and develop customised messages to better reach citizens on the ground;
  • continue communication activities until 4 years after the closure of a project, whenever this is needed.

For more information go to the European Parliament newsroom.

May I 2017

EU Member States adopt conclusions on Cohesion Policy
EU ministers responsible for Cohesion Policy have adopted conclusions on how to bring the policy closer to citizens. Member States also asked the European Commission to prepare a communication action plan on how to make the policy more effective, relevant and visible to citizens. The key conclusions of Member States were:
  • Simplification of policy should aim at reducing disproportionate costs of administration;
  • Better application of proportionality;
  • Further simplification on right balance between result orientation and checks and controls;
  • Simplified audit process;
  • Flexible for new challenges;
  • Finally, Member States call on the Commission to publish their proposals for post-2020 as soon as possible in 2018.
Whilst the UK will no longer be a Member State of the EU at the time of the new Cohesion Policy coming into effect, it may still want to participate in certain elements of the policy, for example European Territorial Cooperation (Interreg). In order to do this, it is necessary that the new regulations for the 2021-2027 period allow non-EU countries to participate and leave the possibility open for UK partners. It's also important to note that the European Commission expects all UK Cohesion Policy beneficiaries to be liable to EU audit procedures for the seven years following the completion of the project, even after the UK has left the EU.

April II 2017

Review of the ESF Operational Programme
At the December 2016 ESF Annual Review Meeting, the Managing Authority (MA) agreed with the European Commission to carry out a review of the 2014 – 2020 Operational Programme. Early planning sessions have outlined a need to make technical amendments, review the text to ensure accuracy and consistency, review underlying assumptions made and their current validity, and make any required adjustments. The updated Operational Programme is expected to be agreed with the European Commission and published in the autumn. Further updates on the review work will be provided in the future additions of this bulletin.

New report highlights how EU Cohesion Policy improves the investment environment in Europe
One of the key elements of the Cohesion Policy reform for 2014-2020 was the introduction of preconditions (ex ante conditionalites) for Member States to receive money from the European Structural and Investment Funds.

A first assessment shows that this additional step has a high value, and that the preconditions proved to be a powerful incentive for Member States and regions to carry out reforms which would have otherwise been delayed or not necessarily implemented, according to the European Commission. The preconditions for successful investments (or "ex-ante conditionalities") cover a wide variety of sectors, including compliance with energy efficiency, innovation, digital plans, and education reforms. They were included in the reformed Cohesion Policy to ensure sound and effective spending.

The report shows that there are margins for improvement – should the preconditions become more tailored to the needs of Member States and regions? How can we ensure their fulfilment throughout the whole financial period? These are key issues that will fuel the discussion on the post-2020 Cohesion Policy.




April I 2017

International Urban Cooperation city-to-city cooperation programme
European cities who wish to exchange with a city facing similar challenges in another global region are encouraged to apply for the International Urban Cooperation (IUC) city-to-city cooperation programme on sustainable urban development. 

The programme aims to foster links between EU cities and those in China, Latin America and the Caribbean, India, Japan, and North America. Through the programme, local leaders will be able to connect and gain new perspectives on pressing sustainable development issues. Submissions for pairings with Chinese cities (Chongqing, Shantou, Zhengzhou, Changchun/Jingyue, Longyan) are now open until 10 April 2017.

Successful candidates will be paired with a city that faces related challenges, allowing both parties to build cooperation and share knowledge. Representatives from each city will take part in study tours, staff exchange, trainings and seminars, etc. and will develop together a local action plan to drive sustainable urban development in the selected area.

For more information, please contact grambelli@iuc-europe.eu.

To apply for this opportunity for pairing with Chinese Cities (Chongqing, Shantou, Zhengzhou, Changchun/Jingyue, Longyan), fill in the IUC city-to-city cooperation application form.

Smart Regions 2.0 Conference: Maximising Europe's innovation potential, Helsinki, 1-2 June
The second edition of the high-level Smart Regions event, due to take place this 1-2 June in Helsinki, will provide the opportunity to national and regional authorities to share experience of how smart specialisation has been implemented in their countries and regions. In 2014 smart specialisation strategies were introduced in the European Union's Cohesion Policy as the basis for research and innovation investment. As a result, over 120 strategies have been established to shape investments from 2014-2020.  It is now time to assess what has been achieved, exchange experience and reflect on how the impact of projects can be maximised on the ground and what lessons should be drawn for the future.

The event will provide the opportunity to share experience between projects supported by the European Structural Investment Funds and other EU programmes and policies in the areas of research, industrial policy, education and skills. It will enable project promoters to learn from experience in other regions and find cooperation partners across EU in areas such as energy, agri-food, industrial modernisation, cybersecurity, health, and the maritime industry.

As well as highlighting best practice and lessons learnt, there will be an opportunity to debate the future of innovation in the context of European regional development with senior representatives from the European institutions and national and regional governments. The conclusions of the discussion will be an important contribution to the discussion on the future of Cohesion Policy post-2020.

Event website and registration information here!



March II 2017

DCLG revises the national ESIF procurement guidelines
The national ESIF procurement requirements have been amended (version 5) and changes made to Chapter 6, in particular the National Rules section. The previous version (v4) of the requirements, issued in December 2016, included a new paragraph at section 25 about delegated grant schemes; this has now been removed, which means that when the national rules apply to a contract, the requirements in the table at section 23 need to be followed. The aim of this change is to ensure simplification by applying the same requirements for everyone following the national rules. These changes are effective from the date of publish and are not retrospective.

New Urban Agenda for the EU website launched
The European Commission has launched a new website to enable stakeholders to be informed on the Urban Agenda and it's Partnerships and to actively contribute and participate in discussions. You are invited to join this community so you can contribute and make your voice heard! Please register so you will be receiving a monthly newsletter and notifications related to your own interest. Follow on Twitter @EUUrbanAgenda. 

Interreg launches “Interreg Volunteer Youth”, part of the European Solidarity Corps initiative
The “Interreg Volunteer Youth” (IVY) initiative is aimed at involving young European volunteers, between 18 and 30 years old, to support, promote and report the concrete achievements of Interreg programmes and projects, as well as generally promote cooperation across borders and related values such as solidarity. The IVY will give volunteers the opportunity to familiarise with the Interreg programmes and projects, make them aware of the many benefits of collaboration among EU internal borders as well as enhance their sense of European solidarity, citizenship and civic engagement. The minimum volunteering period is two months and the maximum six months.

Applications by young volunteers may be submitted via the European Youth Portal while Interreg programmes and projects interested in hosting a volunteer can contact ivy@aebr.eu 



March I 2017

Compare the East of England with other regions using 'My region' app
Are you interested in annual regional data for the EU28, EFTA and the candidate countries and comparing it with your home region? Now it is easy to do – just download the free Eurostat mobile application 'My region' and get started.

To install the app, launch the Apple App store on your iPhone or the Google Play App store on your Android phone and follow the relevant steps.

You can select and compare up to three regions from around 300 regions. Among the 20 indicators available, you will find data on for example “Individuals with internet access on mobile devices” or “Youth employment rate” or “Fertility rate”. One of the screens display the selected region/s position among the other regions.


February II 2017

Launch of the RegioStars Awards 2017
RegioStars Awards identify good practices in regional development and highlight original and innovative projects that are attractive and inspiring to other regions. 

Categories for 2017 are:

  1) Smart Specialisation for SME innovation
  2) Energy Union: Climate action 
  3) Women Empowerment and Active Participation
  4) Education and training
  5) CityStars: Cities in Digital Transition

This year's RegioStars award ceremony will take place on Tuesday 10 October, during the 2017 European Week of Regions and Cities.

Finalist projects will be acknowledged throughout the selection process and during the ceremony. Winners in each category will receive a RegioStars trophy, a short video about their project and a social media promotional package.

Submit your project with the endorsement of the responsible Managing Authority or let your regional or local Managing Authority know that you wish to participate.

If you have any other questions contact regiostars2017@iservice-europa.eu 

To help you prepare your application, the Commission provides the application form in Word format. However, as of this year, applications can no longer be sent in a Word document, but have to be submitted directly via the online form on the RegioStars platform.

Submissions should be made in on the Regiostars online platform: https://www.regiostarsawards.eu 




February I 2017

Commission supports cities for a better integration of migrants
A roundtable with the European Commission and mayors of major European cities took place in early February in Amsterdam on the topic of the integration of migrants. This is the second meeting since the Commission launched a direct dialogue with mayors in April 2016, in order to bring forward best practice and innovative solutions to improve the integration of migrants in urban areas. 

Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cretu and the mayors of Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Ghent, Gdansk and Riga, the Deputy Mayors of Paris and Milan and representatives of civil society discussed the situation of the social and professional inclusion of migrants since the first meeting. The issue of better access to funding for cities was also addressed, in particular through structural funds, which can finance innovative projects accompanying migrants in their integration process. Finally, participants discussed social inclusion in urban areas more broadly and how to deal with migration issues.  

More information on structural funds and the European agenda on migration is available here.

England ERDF Calls/Projects Update 
The Managing Authority has:

  • Legally committed £1.034 billion of ERDF and have a further £585 million of applications currently under consideration
  • Projects are now delivering with ERDF spend being claimed and paid
  • There are currently 96 project calls, including those published in December, open on the funding finder on the GOV.UK website
  • Further new calls scheduled to be published in March and May 2017
ESF Calls/Projects Update 
Update on the European Social Fund (ESF):

  • Memorandums of understanding (MOUs) amounting to £1.15 billion (with an onward procurement totalling £836.4million) are now in place with Co-Financing Organisations
  • Direct Bid Funding Agreements have been signed worth £210 million
  • The result of this is that 47% of programme budget has been committed by the Managing Authority through funding agreements and MOUs
  • There is currently one live call published for D2N2 LEP area with a closing date of 12 March 2017. There will be more calls published over the coming weeks.
EAFRD Calls/Projects Update
Following the recent announcement by the Defra Secretary of State, new calls for applications to the EAFRD Growth Programme worth £120 million have been launched. The calls have been developed in collaboration with LEPs and other local partners to support their local priorities in promoting growth in the rural economy and creating new jobs. The calls are initially open for 12 months.

The allocated budget for each call has been agreed with the local ESIF Sub-Committees to reflect the anticipated level of demand for funding amongst local businesses. Funding has been allocated as follows:

  • Food processing call: £43.3 million in total for food and drink businesses processing agricultural and horticultural products
  • Rural tourism infrastructure call: £38.9 million of funding for capital expenditure on tourism infrastructure costs to encourage tourist spend in the rural economy
  • Business development: £37.8 million of funding to support the development of small rural businesses and farmers diversifying into non-agricultural activities
The handbooks, guidance and application forms have been updated, making it easier to apply.

A series of workshops for applicants is being arranged across England that will help familiarise businesses with the calls and provide the opportunity to talk to the Rural Development team and LEPs.

Click here to view the call handbooks and guidance.

Partnership Working Review
The final report of the Partnership Working Review has been published on the GOV.UK website. The report considers how local partner arrangements have worked over the first year of the 2014 to 2020 ESI Funds programme in England and includes examples of good practice and recommendations going forward. The document can be found on the ESI Fund Growth Programme Board page, within the 15 September meeting documents.



January II 2017

MEPs urge Commission to “cut cohesion red tape”
MEPs in the Regional Development Committee have adopted a report demanding that the European Commission publish a plan in 2017 to cut delays in EU funded projects. MEPs are calling for a “cohesion acceleration plan”, which should simplify rules and procedures so as to end delays in European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) projects and make the “e-Cohesion” management tool fully operational.
 
MEPs drafted the report after concerns were raised directly with them by regions and beneficiaries over delays in payments. According to data released by the Commission in November 2016, €14.750 billion in interim payments have so far been executed, implying lower payment needs than originally foreseen in the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). Delayed implementation and consequently lower payment needs have led to a reduction of payments in the annual EU budget (Heading 1B: economic, social and territorial cohesion) by €7.2 billion in 2016. At this point in the 2007-2013 MFF, no such payment problem existed. Payment appropriations for 2017 are nearly 24% down on 2016.

Although non-binding, the European Commission is expected to formally respond to the report by the Summer, after its adoption by all MEPs in February or March.

Revisions to ESIF National Procurement Requirements
The ESIF National Procurement Requirements Document has recently been amended, in the main to reflect the newly agreed National Rules that will apply to Non-Contracting Authorities.  These are set out in Chapter 6, from section 22 onwards, and include details of the new correction penalties that will be applied for breaches of the National Rules.
 
Other amendments include:

  • Further details on frameworks and the use of them
  • Further clarification on some of the key policy changes as a result of the PCR2015
  • Chapter 5 amended to focus solely on requirements for procurements completed after 26th February 2015 in line with the 2015 PCR
  • Removal of Chapter 5b PCR 2006 requirements into Annex 5 to avoid duplication and confusion

PEER 2 PEER network extended until 2020
The TAIEX-REGIO PEER 2 PEER instrument has had its budget and delivery period extended until 2020 based on the demand and feedback from users. PEER 2 PEER is a demand-driven tool designed to share expertise between bodies that manage funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund. Coordinated by the Commission, it helps public officials involved in the management of these funds meet their counterparts from other Member States and exchange knowledge, good practice and practical solutions to specific problems. 

The instrument was originally launched as a pilot in March 2015 aimed at helping Member States improve the way they invest and manage EU funds. In 18 months, the Commission have received 150 applications, of which 100 were approved and 74 already implemented. The range of topics covered in these exchanges is very broad. The ones that feature most often are management and control issues, financial instruments, urban development, public procurement, smart specialisation, etc. 

At present, 24 EU Member States have been involved, including the UK which held a study visit on exchanging experiences on urban policy, financial instruments and integrated projects in Manchester. The most active countries applying for exchanges are Lithuania, Czech Republic and Croatia. Among those who are most active in sharing their experience are Polish, Romanians, Dutch and Lithuanians. 

England ERDF and ESF 2014-2020 Programmes Communications Survey - Have Your Say
The Managing Authority is seeking views about the communication activities they have been using for England’s ERDF and ESF Programmes during 2016. The survey results will help them shape the communication activities for the coming year. You are invited to provide your feedback through their short Communications Survey.

The closing date for the survey, which will only take a few minutes to complete, is Monday 6 February.



January I 2017

UK government to propose amendment to ERDF and ESF Operational Programmes
The Department for Local Government and Communities (DCLG) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will propose to the European Commission that the ERDF and ESF Operational Programmes and Terms of Reference of local ESIF Sub-Committees be amended to enable local partners to provide advice on value for money (which is not currently formally in scope for partner advice in the committee Terms of Reference). 

This proposal is a result of the recent statement by the Chancellor on the future of EU funding post-Brexit. As confirmed by the Chancellor in October, the Treasury has agreed to extend the guarantee for ESIF funded projects to the point at which the UK leaves the EU. The funding guarantee is conditional that ESIF projects agreed after the 2016 Autumn Statement meet “domestic strategic priorities” and provide “good value for money”. The Managing Authorities have been working through how they will give effect to these conditions.

It’s understood that the European Commission is not opposed to these changes, however, the Commission have requested more detailed information from government on how the new criteria will be applied in practice. The Commission does not want to see ESIF Sub-Committees overreaching their responsibilities in this new area of project evaluation. 



December II 2016

ESIF Scam letter
A London based ESIF grant recipient recently received a letter which, it is strongly suspected, is part of a scam. The letter claimed to be from the European Commission and stated that the grant recipient had been nominated for and awarded a significant grant and directed them to get in touch with a third party approved body in Denmark. If you receive this letter, please inform the relevant Managing Authority. The European Commission has been informed.


December I 2016

High Level Group on Simplification sets its sights on Cohesion Policy post-2020
The European Commission's High Level Group on Simplification will establish a roadmap for 2017, with the objective of having a set of recommendations by the summer of 2017. "We have entered a new phase in our reflection on the policy, where we are now defining and testing options for the future. Our joint task for the months to come is to think, thoroughly, on how we can make post-2020 Cohesion Policy simpler, more efficient and more flexible," said Regional Policy Commissioner Cre?u. It is thought the Commission will include many of the simplification measures proposed into the new Cohesion Policy proposals post-2020.

ERDF Financial Instruments update
DCLG have announced that they have contractually committed four key ERDF Financial Instrument (FI) projects in November 2016. Together these will generate £932.5 million of new investment in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine, helping over 6,000 small and medium sized enterprises to grow and creating over 12,000 jobs. DCLG expect to contract with a further three large Financial Instrument projects within the next six months: London Access to Finance, London Urban Development Fund, and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (Access to Finance).

ESF Skills for Growth - Investment Priority 2.2 applications
For all Investment Priority 2.2 applications that do not already have a funding agreement signed, there will be a short additional annex for applicants to complete. The annex (accessible from the GOV.UK ESIF Outline Application guidance and forms page) contains five questions and its purpose is to help all applicants respond more explicitly on how their project(s) will demonstrate value for money. This additional information will also help the Managing Authority when assessing and appraising applications, according to DCLG.

Organisations currently or planning to apply against ESF Investment Priority 2.2 calls should complete and submit the annex with the application. Where an application has already been submitted and is being appraised, but there is not yet a funding agreement in place, the ESF Managing Authority is asking each applicant to complete the annex / form. The primary focus of Investment Priority 2.2 remains, as now, on ‘Businesses / SMEs’ and this short annex will complement rather than replace existing forms and processes.

ERDF Practitioner Network
The first ERDF Practitioner Network bulletin was circulated to registered members in early November. Aimed at partners delivering ERDF projects, the network will help with the exchange of best practice and lessons learned between partners delivering projects and also sets out to deepen everyone’s understanding of the European Commission requirements.


November II 2016

EU Court of Auditors critical of Juncker’s investment plan
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has published an initial analysis of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the so called Juncker Plan. EFSI is a flagship initiative of the Juncker Commission in cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB), designed to mobilise private investment in infrastructure and other large scale projects. 

Whilst the ECA is satisfied with the financial standards of EFSI, the Auditors believe the EFSI proposal was launched without a comprehensive impact assessment and too soon for the economic, social and environmental impact of EFSI to be measured. Additional concerns were over duplication and complexity with existing financial products offered by the EIB, lack of alignment with existing EU policy objectives and elements of financial risk management.

 



November I 2016

UN and EU reports highlights innovation and education in Cambridge 
UN Habitat and the European Commission have jointly published the 2016 ‘State of European Cities’ report. This report is addressed primarily to policy makers and is designed to help cities learn from each other. The report compares the performance of cities and provides examples of policies that have worked. Using a wealth of new data, it shows the latest demographic, economic, innovation, social and environmental trends in European cities. It also examines urban mobility, governance and resource efficiency. It’s hoped that the report can promote more evidence-based policy making at the city level. 

The report highlights Cambridge as an excellent example of a small-medium sized city that has harnessed innovation in its educational institutions and businesses in order to grow the economy and attract investment. "Many European cities provide excellent examples of how innovation can foster urban development and some of these cities are quite moderate in size, like Eindhoven or Cambridge. Successfully bringing innovation to the market can create new high-growth firms, which tend to concentrate in cities and especially in capital cities."

 

ERDF Practitioner Network
The ERDF Practitioner Network is aimed at partners delivering ERDF projects, the network will help exchange best practice, lessons learned between partners delivering projects and deepen everyone’s understanding of the European Commission requirements. DCLG are aiming to circulate the first practitioner network bulletin in the coming weeks. If you would like to sign up please email them at esif@communities.gsi.gov.uk.

E-CLAIMs (European Claim and Information Management System)
Work on E-CLAIMS, the new purpose-built information management system for the English ERDF and ESF 2014-20 programmes, is progressing well according to DCLG. Testing with some external partners will take place during the first two weeks of November and any findings will be fed-back to the design team and considered in relation to any future build priorities.

 



October II 2016

Urban Innovative Actions – Call 2 Topics and Applicant Seminars
The 2nd call under the Urban Innovative Actions programme is due to be launched in mid-November. The call topics were announced earlier in the year, but the programme has now defined more clearly what each topic means and what might be expected from project proposals. The three topics open under call 2 will be: Circular economy, Integration of migrants and refugees, and Urban mobility.

In order to help potential applicants prepare for the call, a series of applicant seminars will be held across the EU. Exact dates are still to be announced, but between December 2016 and January 2017, seminars will take place in Lille, Porto, Budapest and Thessaloniki.

Announcement on future funding for ESI Funds
The Chancellor made an announcement on 13 August about the future funding of schemes currently funded by the EU. Assurance was given that all structural and investment fund projects signed or with funding agreements in place before the Government’s Autumn Statement will be fully funded, even when these projects continue after the UK has left the EU. 

The Government will also work with partners to put in place arrangements for considering those ESI Fund projects that might be signed after the Autumn Statement, but while we still remain a member of the EU. Further details will be provided ahead of the Autumn Statement which has been set for 23 November. It is intended that these arrangements will ensure that spending commitments remain consistent with value for money and our own domestic policies. 

How value for money and alignment with domestic UK policy will be measured and made consistent with EU Operational Programming has not be announced.

 

Growth Programme Board 
The Board met on Thursday 15 September. In addition to the regular reports of progress on each of the ESIF programmes, members received the final iteration of the Partnership Working Review report. The preliminary draft had been circulated in June and members provided editorial suggestions and feedback to the Review Team. The report summarises the conclusions and sets out the steps for putting recommendations into place. The Board asked for a progress note on implementing the recommendations, in March 2017. The Board’s membership and terms of reference are almost due for their first review. A proposal for taking that piece of work forward will be presented at the meeting on 13 December. 


September II 2016


ESIF Project Pipeline Post-Autumn Statement

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced that they are preparing a project pipeline for ESIF projects for after the Autumn Statement. DCLG is now working with partners across each LEP area to gather information on potential post Autumn Statement ESIF activity to inform the arrangements that will be established. This exercise will take place over a three week period, starting from the 20th September. 
 
DCLG have issued an advice document, ‘Information on possible activity that might be contracted after the Autumn Statement’, which helps explain the process that will be followed. 
 
DCLG will also be working, and have initiated discussions, with LEP colleagues (and the ESIF Committee Chair) to compile this information for each LEP area.  DCLG shall then circulate the collated information to LEPs on the 3rd October 2016 for comments by 7th October 2016. 
 
For EAFRD, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will be coming out to local ESIF Committees with a completed version of the EAFRD template based on the recent information that LEPs and partners have already provided regarding future calls. The RPA regards this as the current position and, therefore, will simply require LEPs to confirm or by exception provide any amendment to the pre-completed template.

 



Free online course: EU budget and funding for regions and cities

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) is launching a new round of free online training on “The EU budget and how European regions and cities access EU funds”. The massive open online course (MOOC) is the first of its kind to help local authorities navigate policy making in EU affairs, with a focus on accessing EU funds and understanding budgets. This year’s course has been co-created by the European Investment Bank and the European Commission. The course will require approximately two hours of study time per week.

The course tools, including videos, live debates, factsheets and quizzes, will balance the basic theory behind EU funding, procedures and evaluation with hands-on information from practitioners on project design and delivery. More than 50 speakers – EU officials, academics, practitioners and local authorities – contribute to the course, which will start on 31 October until 9 December 2016. The course material will remain available online until 31 July 2017. Provided they have followed at least 80% of the course, participants will be able to download a certificate of achievement. 

You can find out more and register on the MOOC website.


September I 2016

Marc Lemaître becomes new DG for Regional and Urban Policy
Mr Lemaître, a Luxembourg national, officially took over on the 1st September as the Director-General for Regional and Urban Policy from Walter Deffaa, who has now retired. Mr Lemaître was previously Director of the Office for Administration and Payment of Individual Entitlements (PMO). 

Mr Lemaître brings 20 years of experience in European affairs, both in the European Commission and in the diplomatic service of Luxembourg. Between 1996 and 2006, he worked in the Permanent Representation of Luxembourg to the European Union, dealing with budgetary, trade and general affairs issues, including the preparation and negotiation of the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2007-2013.

Mr Lemaître joined the Commission in 2007 as Head of the private office of Regional Policy Commissioner, Danuta Hübner, and then her successor, Pawel Samecki. Between 2010 and 2013, Mr Lemaître led the private office of Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, a period during which the present Multiannual Financial Framework (2014-2020) was prepared and agreed. Since 2013, he has managed the PMO, a department of nearly 600 staff.   

 



July II 2016

ESIF grant agreements currently suspended
Despite reassurances from the various Managing Authorities that it was “business as usual” post-Brexit referendum, it’s emerged that since Friday 24th June, DCLG, Defra and DWP are not signing new grant agreements and contracts. This has now been reported in The Independent. DCLG has stated that they expect to publish a communication on the next steps in the coming days.

New features on ESIF open data platform
New data and features have been added to the European Structural and Investment Funds open data platform.  These include:

 

  • Visualisations for all 533 ESIF programmes 2014-2020 (accessible via the country pages) including financing and expected achievements based on common indicators (where available)
  • Finances dataset updated to reflect adopted programmes as at June 2016
  • Cross-border cooperation programmes under the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) added
  • Possibility for users to visualise thematic breakdown of funding as either the total amount or the percentage of the national allocation

You can access the platform here: https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/ 

UK ranked one of the “fastest growing innovators” in Europe
The European Commission has published the 2016 results of the European Innovation Scoreboard, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard and the Innobarometer. The main findings are that EU innovation is catching up with Japan and the US, Sweden is once again the innovation leader, and Latvia has become the fastest growing innovator. The UK continues to remain a “strong innovator” and is now part of a group of countries under the bracket, “fastest growing innovators” alongside Latvia, Malta, Lithuania, and the Netherlands.

The annual European Innovation Scoreboard provides a comparative assessment of the research and innovation performance of the EU countries and selected third countries. The 2016 report includes, for the first time, a forward-looking section focused on recent developments, trends, and expected changes.

The Regional Innovation Scoreboard is a regional extension of the European Innovation Scoreboard, assessing the innovation performance of European regions. The East of England continues to perform well, classified as a "strong innovator".

The Innobarometer reveals recent trends and attitudes in businesses’ innovation-related activities in the EU countries as well as in Switzerland and the US.


July I 2016


Oliver Robbins appointed Head of EU Unit, Cabinet Office

Oliver Robbins has been appointed as head of the new EU Unit in the Cabinet Office. Oliver Letwin has been appointed the minister to oversee the new Unit. The Unit will have responsibility for supporting the Cabinet in the examination of options for the UK’s future relationship with the EU as well as responsibility for the wider European and Global Issues Secretariat. Robbins is currently Second Permanent Secretary at the Home Office.

 

David Cameron has already tasked the Unit with producing reports and a detailed cost-benefit analysis of each possible post-Brexit option, including membership of the European Economic Area, a Canada-style free trade deal etc.


Can the effectiveness of ESF be measured using “counterfactual impact evaluations”?

The JRC has published a report on the findings of eight pilot projects using counterfactual impact evaluations (CIE) to measure the “causal effect” of ESF funded employment activities and vocational training. CIE is a rigorous study method to evaluate the effectiveness of public policies. The report found that it is feasible to use this methodology to measure the effectiveness of ESF activities.


June I 2016

European Social Fund (ESF) Work and Health Programme
The new Work and Health Programme will start in 2017 and will provide contracted provision for people with health conditions and disabilities and the long term unemployed, to help them move into sustained work. Money from the ESF means that the Work and Health Programme is able to be extended across England. The programme will be co-commissioned and co-designed with local authorities, and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be holding events with local areas across the UK to help shape the national design.

The Programme is targeted at those who will benefit the most from additional support, with those with a health condition or disability who require additional support to that provided by JCP who would be able to enter employment with this extra support and those who have not moved into employment after two years of JCP support being specifically targeted as beneficiaries of this Programme.

Authorities located within a devolution deal may want to use ESF funding in order to achieve the desired local level variations from the national design. DWP plan to discuss the ESF and the Work and Health Programme in more detail with those within devolution deal areas in early June.

Should you wish to find out more, please contact Sophia Parkinson at: sophia.parkinson@dwp.gsi.gov.uk


Following the closure of the European Partnership at the end of March 2019, this website is no longer active and will not be updated. However, it will be kept live for a period of time as an archive resource.