New report highlights how EU Cohesion Policy improves the investment environment
One of the key elements of the Cohesion Policy reform for 2014-20 was the introduction of preconditions for Member States to receive money from the European Structural and Investment Funds. A first assessment published last week shows 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.
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.
They have for example helped establish transparent procedures in the field of public procurement, or have required Member States to improve and simplify the regulatory and policy environment for small businesses. In the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain, the fulfilment of the “energy efficiency” precondition gave a significant push to the swift transposition of the Energy Efficiency and Buildings Directives.
Many preconditions required that support from EU Funds should form part of strategic investment frameworks. Designed to meet certain quality criteria, based on needs analysis and including measures to attract private investments, these frameworks encompassing EU, national and regional funding resulted in better coordinated and prioritised public spending overall.
An efficient public administration is key to the success of EU and public investments. When preconditions specifically required the reinforcement and reform of administrations, the very process of fulfilling them resulted in improved coordination and communication between ministries, agencies, regional and local authorities and other stakeholders.