Have you ever worked with EU funding, but thought that the rules could be simpler? Have you been put off applying for funding because you found the procedures too complex? If so, we would like to hear your suggestions!
I am chairing a group of experts that is looking at ways of simplifying the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds. The members of this High Level Group come from all over Europe and bring a variety of experiences which we hope to tap into in order to find simplification solutions. Let me say a few words on how I see our Group's work in the next two years and how ideas put forward by you through this platform could help us in making access to the ESI Funds simpler for all.
There are two main objectives for the group's work
1. Focus on 2014-2020. We will first have a look how the simplification possibilities offered in the 2014-2020 regulations are being used in programmes, and make recommendations how to use these more widely. We may also suggest changes in the regulations or how some processes are managed, if the evidence points in that direction. To achieve this, we will be listening to experts and consulting available analysis of the takeup of simplification in the 2014-2020 programmes. The Commission is running some studies on this, which should be helpful in giving a complete overview. We will be looking at good examples of, for example, the use of IT tools available for beneficiaries to apply for funding and manage projects, and ask why more countries or programmes are not making these possibilities available to their beneficiaries. If it seems the regulations are at fault and making procedures unnecessarily rigid, we will say so.
2. Focus on the future. Commission Vice President Georgieva has encouraged the group to "think outside the box" when it comes to making suggestions for the future of the ESI Funds delivery mechanisms. I have every intention to do that, keeping this in mind when we critically review what works and what doesn't work in the 2014-2020 system.
To really make progress on both fronts, we need to see all the good ideas for the simplification of the funds. This means looking both at those ideas that already work in practice on the ground in some Member States or programmes, and at those that you may have thought of but that have not been put to test yet.
The aim is to improve and simplify the delivery mechanism of these important European funds so that they can best focus on their true objectives – improving peoples' lives and conditions for businesses in all Member States.
So, please don't hesitate to sign up to this platform and put forward your ideas of how to simplify access to one or more of the European Structural and Investment funds. On my part, I am ready to include in the group's working agenda the ideas voted by you as most promising ones and we will analyse them carefully.