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The main hindrances to efficiently accessing European funds

Andreea VASS

The tension of negotiations on Sectoral Operational Programmes is now over, and the debt capacity of local authorities has been recently increased in order to facilitate project co-financing. However, there is a persistent sense of insecurity which invariably leads to the launch of “crisis management” as far as accessing European funds is concerned. Pessimistic approaches by local communities, from “poor-me” to “why-bother?”add new problems to the systemic, core issues that the Government should immediately find adequate answers to.

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The Darwinist method is definitely not an option. The fairness and efficiency of fund allocation depends on whether the actual hindrances and dozens of flaws mentioned by participants in relevant regional public debates will be overcome. There was little talking, sharp honesty, and loud appeals for support to local efforts. This was the background created at the initiative of the civil society. More precisely, of the EUROLINK – Europe House Foundation, which coordinates the Consortium of a Strategic Partnership to support local communities and the SME sector in accessing European funds. Summarised below are these concrete hindrances that local public stakeholders and SMEs are facing in launching projects, along with tentative recommendations for the efficient accessing of EU funds at a local and regional level.

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lang=EN-GB style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; FONT-FAMILY: Wingdings; mso-fareast-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold"> style="mso-list: Ignore">§ style="FONT: 7pt ''">      Inadequate consultation between prospective beneficiaries and management authorities

There is no communication and direct representation of management authorities in regional debates, in particular as far as the Management Authority for the Community Support Framework is concerned. Open dialogue alone can allow consultations to focus on actual questions and on concrete answers given by those in charge with the adequate implementation of European Commission regulations and express recommendations.

 

lang=EN-GB style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; FONT-FAMILY: Wingdings; mso-fareast-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold"> style="mso-list: Ignore">§ style="FONT: 7pt ''">      Motivating civil servants in charge with the implementation of winning projects

The Government and Parliament of Romania must identify the legislative and procedural means to enhance the accountability and financial motivation of civil servants involved in the implementation of EU funded projects at a county and local level. The introduction of extra-hour and “achievement” bonuses, prorated to the number and amount of funds attracted through Sectoral Operational Programmes, is advised.

 

lang=EN-GB style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; FONT-FAMILY: Wingdings; mso-fareast-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold"> style="mso-list: Ignore">§ style="FONT: 7pt ''">      Clear legislation on public-private partnerships

In view of consolidating the European fund accessing process, in particular for funds earmarked for regional development, clear regulations must be endorsed on the public-private partnership. Such regulations should be included either in the legislation on public procurement, or in a separate normative act, drawing on the best practices and recommendations of older European Union Member States.

 

lang=EN-GB style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; FONT-FAMILY: Wingdings; mso-fareast-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold"> style="mso-list: Ignore">§ style="FONT: 7pt ''">        Promoting the dialogue between Government and financial institutions, in view of increasing the co-financing capacity

The goal of making project co-funding flexible and smooth requires a structured dialogue between the Government and trade associations in the financial-banking sector, the Romanian Banks Association in particular. Adequate responsibility sharing, with banks also accountable for the implementation of a particular project—which would have an impact on the local community or on the development of a social-economic sector—must be based on a transparent framework-system to facilitate the co-financing.

 

lang=EN-GB style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; FONT-FAMILY: Wingdings; mso-fareast-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-family: Wingdings"> style="mso-list: Ignore">§ style="FONT: 7pt ''">        Creating an information system to enable applicants to check the assessment status and conclusions

Creation of a proper virtual space where the status of submitted projects may be checked at any time would enable applicants to access the scores assigned to their projects and the weaknesses of the documentation. This would not only promote enhanced transparency of the application/project proposal assessment process, but it would also help disseminate and acquire “best practices” by means of tackling the flaws having led to the rejection of the respective projects and by re-submitting improved applications for funding.

 

lang=EN-GB style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; FONT-FAMILY: Wingdings; mso-fareast-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold"> style="mso-list: Ignore">§ style="FONT: 7pt ''">      Drawing up a clear technical protocol for interim reporting

In order to promote a precise and efficient institutional communication system at work among project implementation institutions and paying agencies/management authorities, prospective beneficiaries request the Government of Romania and the European Commission to put together a clearly defined technical protocol for the interim reporting process, based on relevant best practices and generally-agreed benchmarking indicators. The implementation of this communication system may guarantee to a large extent the efficient prevention of flaws, hindrances and crises that may emerge, particularly in the context of a still developing institutional-administrative capacity, as well as the countering of the high corruption level still criticised by the European Union and by non-governmental organisations which monitor public spending in <%Romania.

 

lang=EN-GB style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; FONT-FAMILY: Wingdings; mso-fareast-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-family: Wingdings"> style="mso-list: Ignore">§ style="FONT: 7pt ''">        Distinguishing between consultants providing technical assistance and those who may be involved in project assessment

In order to promote the transparency and fairness of the assessment process and to prevent conflicts of interests, clear distinction must be made between the consultants / consulting companies which will take part, as individuals or legal entities, in the assessment of projects submitted to management authorities, on the one hand, and those which provide consulting / technical assistance services for projects submitted or pending for submission, on the other hand.

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lang=EN-GB style="FONT-SIZE: 14pt; FONT-FAMILY: Wingdings; mso-fareast-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-family: Wingdings; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold"> style="mso-list: Ignore">§ style="FONT: 7pt ''">        Civil organisations with relevant expertise should take part in monitoring and assessing projects

Participants want representatives of the social partners and civil society organisations having been active in the preparation stage of the EU fund accessing process to be more extensively present in national and regional monitoring and assessment committees. This would contribute to a fair balance of and a more rigorous control on the assessment and promotion of the best projects and initiatives co-financed from European funds.

 

Unfortunately, the list above is not comprehensive. Still, we are not bound to be inefficient. All we need is the will to quickly solve these problems.

Publicat în : English  de la numărul 48

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