The Contribution of ESI Funds to Jobs and Growth: How are the New Reforms Working?

Cite as: Bachtler, J., Mendez, C., & Polverari, L. (2016) The Contribution of ESI Funds to Jobs and Growth: How are the New Reforms Working? European Structural and Investment Funds Journal, Volume 4, Issue 3 (2016), pp. 117 - 132.

The 2013 reform of Cohesion policy made significant changes to the regulatory framework for ESI Funds with important implications for the programming of the Funds and implementation. An important question is how these reforms are perceived ‘on the ground’ by managing authorities and other implementing bodies. This article examines how the reform changes have influenced the programming process and the early experiences of programme delivery, with respect to strategic coherence, thematic concentration, the results orientation, the performance framework, ex-ante conditionalities, financial instruments and integrated territorial development. Research among programme authorities suggests that most aspects of the new regulations have strong support in principle, but the potential benefits at programme level are still emerging and have often been obscured by the complexity of administrative procedures and associated workloads. Further efforts are needed to achieve real simplification for managing authorities and intermediate bodies, to enhance the functioning of subsidiarity and to improve further the intended results-orientation. Looking forward to post-2020, if support for Cohesion policy is to be maintained among those responsible for managing and delivering ESI Fund programmes, then issues of administrative capacity and implementation procedures need to be given far more weight at the stage of developing proposals and regulatory provisions.

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