EU regulations and directives need to be carefully observed
The national and regional administration of EU Funding is subject to uniform EU-wide regulations. These regulations implementation can prove especially challenging in terms how they are applied and how funding can be taken up more efficiently. It is our aim to simplify these regulations and their practical application. The European Academy for Taxes, Economy & Law supports administrative authorities throughout Europe in implementing these rules and regulations so that applicants for funding from all parts of Europe make progress and benefit from the Academy’s special training courses.
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Thanks to the new EU Cohesion Policy and the new Programming Period 2014-2020 of the European Union, there is more funding available for research, development and innovation than ever before. The EU has set out the goal to enhance investment and to strengthen Europe’s position in R&D&I. The majority of Member States therefore have adopted this goal and plan to dedicate more European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to this area. This development entails quite a large amount of new funding possibilities available for projects by universities, research centers and other potential beneficiaries.
As one of the world’s major donors for development cooperation, the European Union and its Member States provide a broad range of funding opportunities.
EU Funds Project Managers have to deal with several challenging management tasks specific to EU Funds. Their work refers to different aspects and phases of project and programme management which require a high level of expertise.
The correct handling of irregularities in EU funded projects is still a very difficult issue for all bodies involved in the management and control systems of EU funds. As the number of irregularities reported remains very high, the European Commission stresses that Member States need to continue their efforts in order to minimise the rate of irregularities. Thus, the topic of irregularities has to remain a priority for Member States as well.
With the new public procurement directive 2014/24/EU, which has come into effect in 2014, the European Commission has introduced a number of opportunities that allow for more flexibility in the procurement process while upholding the basic requirements of competition, transparency and equal treatment.
Technical Assistance (TA) for European Structural Funds has been in use for several years now. However, there are many changes that will apply to Technical Assistance in the new Programming Period 2014-2020.
The EU Member States have already prepared their Operational Programmes (OPs) outlining the investment plans for EU Structural and Investment Funds for the 2014-2020 programming period.
The current Programming Period 2014-2020 holds lots of opportunities to fund innovative ideas and projects. The architecture of European Funds and direct grants continues to offer a wide range of funding opportunities in the Member States. However, funding is often not used as effectively as possible or it may be denied due to lack of knowledge or poor planning. Although the numerous programmes and initiatives have different features, the development and implementation of projects in practice follow common rules.
The proper handling of the rules for the eligibility of expenditure in EU funded projects has proven to be very challenging and remains difficult in the new period 2014-2020. Disregarding the rules for eligibility of expenditure causes many irregularities.
For a contracting authority to ensure that contractual terms and conditions are realised in the execution phase, contract management is key. During the public procurement process a contracting authority puts a lot of time and effort into identifying reliable business partners, negotiating favourable terms, and ensuring a strong basis for the award decision.
Many authorities within the management and control system of EU Funds still face considerable difficulties and uncertainties when it comes to detecting and handling (suspected) fraud cases. They are presented with the challenge of distinguishing these cases from irregularities as well as identifying necessary actions.
With the integration of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) into a single Common Provisions Regulation for the programming period 2014-2020 and the introduction of single rules for management and control of all European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), the management and implementing bodies of EAFRD and EMFF have to follow the single set of rules, decisions and procedures.
The European Union (EU) and its Member States are the world’s biggest donors, providing more than half of all development aid worldwide. However, in order to cooperate with the EU successfully and to benefit from the external cooperation funds, beneficiaries have to comply with a multitude of accounting regulations for projects financed by the EU.
The European Commission has set out detailed arrangements on the management and control systems to be operated by Member States for the EU Structural Funds in both programming periods (2007-2013 and 2014-2020).
EU Member States have already made some practical experiences with Financial Engineering Instruments. However, in the last programming period, only 5% of the entire ERDF resources were distributed through Financial Instruments (FI). For the current programming period 2014-2020, the European Commission demands an increased use of this innovative tool.
The New Programming Period has begun and the National Programmes are in the process of their submission and examination by the European Commission. With the new year, comes the practical implementation of the rules and regulations for the two remaining Home Affairs Funds: the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Internal Security Fund (ISF).
The ESI Funds 2014-2020 offer the possibility to support an operation comprising a series of works, activities or services of a precise economic or technical nature (for which the total eligible costs exceed 50 million Euro) as well as operations contributing to one thematic objective (where the total eligible costs exceed 75 million Euro) such as transport, water, waste and energy projects.
The ESI Funds have been redirected to fulfill special requirements and needs of the European Union until 2020. This means that there are new requirements to meet when applying for ESI funding.
The new EU Directives on Public Procurement implicate a number of modifications and bring in some significant changes, particularly to the range of contracts subject to the EU public procurement regime.
The practical introduction of eCohesion systems requires Member States to establish electronic data exchange systems which allow the exchange of all information between Managing, Certifying and Audit Authorities as well as Intermediate Bodies, on the one hand, and beneficiaries, on the other hand, to take place electronically.
With the start of the new programming period 2014-2020 new regulations and rules regarding financial management, control and audit have been introduced. On the basis of the Common Provisions Regulation, Fund-specific rules as well as delegated and implementing acts EU-Member States have created and set up management and control systems for the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) 2014-2020.
For the actual programming period 2014-2020, the European Commission pay increased attention to communication as well as to results and outcomes. Managing Authorities have to carefully set up a Communication Strategy, or revise the existing one if needed, in order to make their projects visible and transparent.
Fraud and corruption in the public sector heavily harm the economy, lower investment levels and reduce public finances. Anti-fraud and anti-corruption strategies are often not effective enough and damages done to public institutions and their budgets by fraud and corruption can be enormous ranging from financial loss to reduction of organisational performance, reputation, credibility and public confidence.
2015 is a crucial moment for experts dealing with EU Funds. Most Operational Programmes have been published, so that it is time to start new projects and write new project proposals in the current programming period 2014-2020. The Commission emphasises an increased use of financial instruments and aims at simplified and more coherent solutions.
Whether internal or external, strategic, financial, operational or reputational risks – these can significantly hinder the work of your authority. In the current economic and financial context the lack of an adequate approach to risk management is an enormous and real threat to the work of any public administration, since nowadays work efficiency and effectiveness in the public sector are more important than ever before. For that reason, it is of extreme importance that public authorities do not rely solely on their intuition in dealing with risks, but use professional formalised risk management as an integral and ongoing part of their general management process.