watchdog, monitoring, evaluation

The partnership principle in the early stages of programming

by Ondrej Marek, 1 March 2013

Even though still under negotiation it is foreseeable that the new legislation for Cohesion Policy 2014–2020 will enshrine substantial progress in further establishing the partnership principle, i.e. providing for a comprehensive involvement of EU Cohesion Policy stakeholders into lanning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of EU funds’ investments.

The partnership principle is one of the main principles of Cohesion Policy. It has been part of the EU’s legislation since 1988 and the concept has evolved over the years through learning-by-doing. The European Commission’s proposal for a new legislative framework of the Cohesion Policy, in particular set out in article 5 of the Common Provisions Regulations, includes the so called “Code of Conduct on Partnership”. Even though legally not enforceable it does represent a significantly advanced development of the partnership principle norms. These provisions and guidelines promote the establishment of a system of best practice and standards. Thus it addresses one of the main weaknesses of the current application of the partnership principle – diverse practice in different member states leading to mostly insufficient utilisation of the partnership principle.

The main positive elements of the European Code of Conduct on Partnership (ECCP) are the general minimum requirements for high quality partnership: partners’ involvement, their selection process, reporting on consultation and consideration of partners’ opinions; and the flexibility on specific procedures, combined with the responsibilities to ensure a transparent and participatory process (including to report on measures taken in that regard).

With the adoption of future Cohesion Policy legislation on the horizon, the programming process for Regional Development funding for the period2014–2020 is well under way. In this context Member States committed themselves to “already in the preparatory phase of the programming documents take into account as far as possible the principles of the draft Regulation1”, i.e. the main elements of the partnership principle.

In February 2013, SFteam and Bankwatch prepared a report that aims to present the divergence between the agreed principles of the partnership and current experiences in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, namely Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. The reference framework for this comparison is in line with the reporting requirements of Member States on the application of the partnership principle as set out in draft templates for Partnership Agreements and operational Programmes provided by the European Commission in January 2013.

Please find the whole report here: Partnership experiences from CEE countries

Related: SFteam, Bankwatch and WWF, as members of the Structural Dialogue of DG REGIO, prepared a joint response on the European Code on Conduct on Partnership: Coment on ECCP

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