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Issue 8, 2nd quarter 2005

Foresighting Europe Newsletter


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Shared visions, common research futures

Regional Foresight in the Structural Funds

Regional Foresight in the Structural Funds’ 2007-2013 Community Strategic Guidelines

In the 5th July 2005 Communication adopted by the Commission and entitled "Cohesion Policy in Support of Growth and Jobs: Community Strategic Guidelines, 2007-2013" the role of regional foresight is recognized as very important.

According to Article 23 of the draft Council Regulation (EC) laying down general provisions for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund (COM (2004) 492 final, 14 July 2004. In the rest of the paper, “Funds” is used in relation to the three Funds and “Structural Funds” when reference is made to the ERDF and ESF only.), it is for the Council to establish, after the adoption of the regulations and on the basis of a Commission proposal, Community strategic guidelines for cohesion policy to “give effect to the priorities of the Community with a view to promote balanced, harmonious and sustainable development” (COM (2004) 492 final, Article 23).

The Community Strategic Guidelines sketched out in this Communication have the following main characteristics:

  • The financial instruments at the disposal of Cohesion policy are the Structural Funds (the ERDF and the ESF) and the Cohesion Fund. In the guidelines that follow, there is deliberately no analysis by Fund. The question of the appropriate instrument under each heading is a matter for the programming phase and depends on the nature of the planned expenditures (infrastructure, productive investment, human resource development, etc);
  • The key objective is to identify Community priorities for support under cohesion policy with a view to strengthening synergies with, and helping to deliver, the Lisbon strategy as defined by the integrated guidelines for growth and jobs;
  • They concern only that part of national and regional investments co-financed by the Structural Funds and the Cohesion fund;
  • They need to be read alongside the legislative proposals. The latter define the purpose and the scope of assistance of each Fund, while the Community Strategic Guidelines seek to identify within that scope those areas where the cohesion policy can most effectively contribute to the realisation of Community priorities, particularly those of the renewed Lisbon strategy;
  • They reflect discussion with the Member States and within the different Commission services.

Once adopted by the Council, the Guidelines will form the basis for preparing national strategic reference frameworks and the resulting operational programmes.

In the above-mentioned Commission communication on these Guidelines Foresight appears at three different places:

4.2. Guideline " Improving knowledge and innovation for growth"

"Better use of existing RTD potential could be encouraged by regional "foresight" and other regional strategic planning methods, involving regular and systematic dialogue with the stakeholders." (p. 17)


4.2.1 Increase and improve investment in RTD

"Actions in RTD should be aligned with EU RTD policy and the needs of regions in question. In terms of method, these need be based on a sound analytical approach, such as foresight; as wall as use of indicators, such as patents; human resources in RTD; location of private and public research institutions; and on the existence of clusters of innovative businesses."(p. 19)

4.3.4. Administrative capacity

"Member States should ensure that the need to increase efficiency and transparency in public administrations and to modernize public services is adequately addressed. In particular, they should consider action to :

  • Support good policy and programme design, monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment, through studies, statistics, expertise, and foresight, support for interdepartmental coordination and dialogue between relevant public and privates bodies;
  • Enhance capacity building [...]"(p. 28)