Management and monitoring of structural programmes
Content - C / E
management of any programme financed by the Structural Funds is always the responsibility
of the Member State. For each programme, the State designates a "managing authority".
It is this authority which, first of all, adopts the programme complement and
then, if necessary, amends it. It also handles the selection of projects, for
example through calls for proposals. Consequently, this is the authority that
organisations (local authorities, firms, associations, etc.) wishing to receive
support from the Structural Funds must approach.
A special case :
The Structural Fund regulations provide
for the possibility of a national or regional authority transferring management
of a programme or sub-programme to an intermediary body entrusted with a public-interest
mission. This could be a local authority, a regional development body or a non-governmental
organisation with experience in administrative and financial management. Recourse
to a global grant is mentioned in the programming document as a special provision
for implementing the assistance.
The managing authority
is the hub of the programming system. For instance, it is responsible for organising
the collection of financial and statistical data on the programme being managed.
This information is crucial in monitoring the smooth running of operations. The
managing authority also deals with publicising the assistance. This means that
it must notify potential beneficiaries - and the general public - of the possibilities
offered by the programme.
The annual implementation report
of its management responsibilities, one of the duties of the managing authority
is to prepare, each year, the programme's annual implementation report. This document
is of fundamental importance in ensuring that the assistance is unfolding smoothly
and making progress in achieving its targets. Each years document is forwarded
to the European Commission, which can examine the main outcomes of the previous
year and monitor the programmes progress. The Commission can, moreover,
make observations or request certain changes to the programme.
reports play a significant part in ensuring sound programming. Their content is
precisely laid down in the regulations. They must set out:
- the financial
implementation of assistance (with, for each measure, a record of expenditure
paid and a record of payments received from the Commission);
- the progress
in the implementation of priorities and measures in relation to their specific
- indications of any change in the general conditions which may
be of relevance to the implementation of the assistance (socio-economic trends;
changes in national, regional or sectoral policies, etc.);
- the steps
taken to ensure the effectiveness of implementation (monitoring, financial control
and evaluation measures, any adjustments in management, the use made of technical
- the steps taken to ensure compatibility with Community
policies (notably rules on competition, the award of public contracts, environmental
protection, the promotion of equality between men and women, etc.).
can a programme be adjusted ?
Some circumstances justify adjusting the
programming documents. Implementing a programme can, for instance, reveal certain
defects which should be remedied, such as a measure which is poorly targeted or
too restrictive, a financial appropriation which is badly distributed between
"successful" measures and other less popular ones, the omission of some
types of beneficiaries, etc. More simply, it should not be forgotten that the
programmes are spread over seven years. During this period, major changes could
occur in the social and economic situation or in the labour market. Such situations
can make it necessary to amend the programme.
Depending on the type of adjustment
necessary, the body responsible will be either the managing authority - which
will modify the programme complement - or the Commission, which will act in agreement
with the Member State. Any adjustment of a programme by the managing authority
cannot affect the total amount of Structural Fund assistance; any such adjustment,
if necessary, must be decided by the Commission in agreement with the Member State.
The same is true for the specific targets set for a priority. Decisions on adjustments
are generally taken at meetings of the programme monitoring committees, which
are usually held once or twice a year (see "Monitoring committees").
the need for an adjustment can occur at any time, it is particularly likely to
arise after the general evaluation of a programme. This must be carried out at
mid-term (see "Assessing: when and why?"). Likewise,
the allocation of the performance reserve to the programmes
showing the best results will require adjustments to those programmes.
when and why ?
When only limited resources are available, it is essential
to ensure that the best use is made of them. Evaluation is a fundamental principle
to ensure good decision-making, sound management of assistance, and therefore
good use of the available resources. Evaluation exercises take place throughout
the programming, to check both that the measures are running smoothly and that
they are yielding results. Notwithstanding additional evaluations, in particular
"thematic" exercises focusing on specific issues, they take place at mid-term
and at the end of the programming period. The managing authority is responsible
for establishing a reliable system for collecting statistical and financial data
for evaluation purposes.
The mid-term evaluation - which must be completed
before 31 December 2003 - is primarily the responsibility of the Member States.
The evaluation must be organised by the managing authority but is carried out
by an independent assessor. It is designed to examine the initial results of the
assistance, the use of financial resources and the operation of monitoring and
An "ex-post" evaluation is also to be carried out once the
assistance comes to an end, under the main responsibility of the Commission. It
is also carried out by an independent assessor. Its purpose is to assess the use
made of resources, the effectiveness of assistance and its impact. It will therefore
highlight the factors contributing to success or failure in implementation and
make it possible to optimise the assistance provided in the future.
Together with the managing authority, the Member States also
set up a "monitoring committee" for each programme (SPD
and OP). The committee's task is to ensure the quality and effectiveness of
the implementation of assistance. The monitoring committee is in close contact
with the European Commission - which participates in its discussions on a consultative
basis - and is thus in a position to guarantee the smooth running of the programming.
This role is reflected in its specific responsibilities:
- It confirms
the programme complement and any adjustment made to it by the managing authority;
it may also request an adjustment.
- It approves criteria for selecting
the operations financed.
- It periodically assesses the progress made towards
achieving the specific objectives of the assistance.
- It examines the
results of implementation and, in particular, the results of the mid-term evaluation
before it is forwarded to the Commission.
- It approves the annual and
final implementation reports before they are forwarded to the Commission.
It approves any proposal to amend the contents of the decision on the contribution
of the Funds.
- Generally speaking, it may suggest to the managing authority
any adjustment it deems necessary to improve the management of assistance.
The performance reserve
|A new tool has been created to promote the effectiveness of interventions:
the performance reserve. The principle is simple: part (4%) of the budget allocated
to each Member State has been put into a reserve until 2003 and will be distributed
to the best-performing programmes. Performance will be assessed by monitoring
indicators which reflect effectiveness, management and financial implementation,
and compliance with rules regarding additionality. The Commission will allocate
the reserve, on the basis of proposals presented by each Member State, no later
than 31 March 2004. This is an important motivating factor for the programme managers,
who must ensure from now until 2003 that they use the public funds at their disposal
effectively and productively. |