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Reform Support

Public administration and governance

Governance and public administration

The quality of a country’s public administration and governance is a key factor in its economic performance and the wellbeing of its citizens. Efficient public administrations serve the needs of citizens and businesses. It is essential that public authorities are able to adjust to changing circumstances.

The Commission helps EU Member States undertaking reforms in the area of public administration and governance by providing technical support. Areas of intervention include the central administration, local administration, digital government, public procurement, better regulation, the judicial system, the fight against corruption and fraud and the better absorption of European Structural and Investment Funds.

In addition to proving support, DG REFORM, is also responsible for coordinating the European Commission’s activities in the field of public administration and governance policy making.

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State governance and better policymaking

A key focus of Commission’s technical support is improving public administration performance. An effective, agile and efficient administration is a prerequisite for a country’s sound management and a key driver of growth.

A well-functioning public administration provides a solid platform for the development of businesses and ensures quality services to citizens and professionals. This, in turn, attracts investment. It is also a central tool for structuring the work of the government and transforming political guidelines into reality.

EXAMPLES OF SUPPORT

  • Ensuring interministerial coordination to improve dialogue between government services in the design and implementation of public policies.
  • Improving structures and processes to ensure the sound design of public policies based on evidence and analysis.
  • Codifying and planning laws to ensure a sound design of the legal framework.
  • Supervising reform implementation through the design of a strong governance and monitoring system.

The Commission provided support to governing bodies and public entities to improve interministerial coordination by clarifying procedures and increasing transparency through an interministerial coordination manual.

Efficiency of the state’s organisation and service delivery

Strong and effective state governance is a necessary requirement for implementing reforms, and reform management is a central element of state administration. There is often a need to strengthen the steering, coordination and planning at the centre of the government to ensure effective public management. Such improvements allow for an effective monitoring of reforms and for the early identification of strategic issues. The Commission helps EU Member States with developing such governance at both strategic and technical levels.

EXAMPLES OF SUPPORT

  • Implementing administrative practices based on modern user-centric approaches such as life events and customer journey mapping.
  • Designing and implementing administrative simplification strategies and actions to reduce red tape for citizens and businesses.
  • Implementing functional reviews that enable Member States to analyse large segments of their public policies in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

In the context of Latvia’s Public Administration Reform Plan 2020, the Commission supported the reorganisation of the interior sector, which accounts for the largest share of the Latvian state budget.

Digital public administration

The digital transformation of public administrations is a way to provide faster, cheaper and better services. E-government improves efficiency and increases user-friendliness and accessibility. It also helps promote ethical practices and reduce the risks of corruption.

The implementation of solid e-governance is at the core of the development of e-government. Once decision-making and supervision bodies are in place, EU Member States can define their strategies, architectures and frameworks and proceed with implementation. E-government has a strong interministerial aspect as it requires an overall simplification of administrative processes across services to meet citizens’ needs.

EXAMPLES OF SUPPORT

  • Helping administrations make use of new digital technologies to overcome the lack of interoperability of IT systems.
  • Improving services delivered by EU Member States’ administrations to citizens, companies and other administrations by using information and communication technologies such as artificial intelligence.
  • Designing digital governance systems and putting in place the right management framework.

The Directorate for IT Systems and Innovation of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance is responsible for the digital transformation, promoting innovation and supplying IT services.

Judicial systems

Effective judicial systems play a crucial role in upholding the rule of law and the EU’s fundamental values. They are also an important structural element for an investment- and business-friendly environment. Therefore, improving the effectiveness of national judicial systems is an EU priority.

EU Member States are engaging in reforms to make their judicial systems more effective. The Commission provides hands-on support to improve the capacity of national institutions to implement reforms in the judicial sector. The Commission also facilitates the exchange of best practices among EU Member States.

EXAMPLES OF SUPPORT

  • Reducing the length of court proceedings, improving the clearance rate of pending cases and strengthening the enforcement of judgments.
  • Improving access to the courts, improving assessment tools (e.g. information and communications technology systems for case management or court statistics) and introducing standards for timeliness and quality of judgements.
  • Supporting the independence of judicial systems by improving procedures for the appointment, promotion and evaluation of judges and prosecutors.
  • Redesigning the allocation of cases in courts.

The European Commission supported Cyprus in creating objective criteria for the recruitment, evaluation and promotion of judges, in collaboration with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice and the Center of Legal Competence (CLC) – Forschung & Consulting GmbH.

Control environment and the fight against corruption

Ethics in public life starts with attitudes and values at the top of the administration. In the first instance, it is a matter for the government itself and for the top managers who are selected to lead the administration. However, standards of ethical behaviour also apply to all officials.

The Commission supports Member States in embedding transparency and accountability in their administrative practices. It offers hands-on technical support for the design and implementation of ethical guidelines and anti-corruption and anti-fraud strategies and policies. Support is provided at all stages of reform design and implementation.

EXAMPLES OF SUPPORT

  • Designing and implementing anti-corruption and anti-fraud strategies and action plans, including defining indicators to measure success.
  • Drafting ethics guidelines (e.g. on conflicts of interest or disciplinary measures) to strengthen the integrity of the public administration.
  • Designing internal control and internal audit systems, strategies and methodologies to reinforce the control environment in public bodies.
  • Developing and modernising procurement structures, standards and systems to ensure sound management of the national budget and EU funds.

The Commission provided technical support to strengthen the capacity of the law enforcement authorities in Greece in preventing and fighting corruption through training and sustainable training resources.

The Commission is supporting national authorities in their efforts to strengthen the national public internal audit system in Romania, by providing support to the national administration in charge of public internal audit.

Human resources

Budgetary constraints put pressure on civil services to make effective use of scarce resources. At the same time, countries must respond to the changing needs of their citizens. Therefore, EU administrations are encouraged to improve their workforce planning and set up human resources (HR) systems that promote learning and career development opportunities.

In this context, professional HR strategies are key in attracting the most competent staff. HR development tools are, more than ever, a key component in building a quality public administration and fostering economic growth.

EXAMPLES OF SUPPORT

  • Defining processes and procedures to depoliticise and professionalise the selection of top managers.
  • Designing good practices to ensure internal mobility of staff.
  • Implementing systems for the performance assessment of civil servants, including reviews of appraisal systems.
  • Designing a workforce planning process in the public administration to address future human resources needs.
  • Implementing change management actions, including the development and implementation of organisational strategies.

Management of EU funds

Several EU Members States are facing delays in implementing EU Funds, in particular the European Structural and Investments Funds (ESIF). This is often caused by weak administrative structures, inadequate programming and management capacity and limited project design skills.

DG REFORM supports EU Member States in increasing their capacity to programme, manage and implement the ESIF operational programmes.

EXAMPLES OF SUPPORT

  • Drafting recommendations for policy and development priorities, including regional specialisations.
  • Drafting guidelines to design more effective operational programmes focused on territorial development investments.
  • Assessing the ESIF governance ecosystem and providing recommendations to simplify and strengthen its efficiency.
  • Drafting recommendations to improve project design skills for infrastructure projects.
  • Providing capacity-building activities at national, regional and local levels with key stakeholders, international experts and representatives of other EU Member States to generate policy dialogue and receive feedback from peers.

Contact details

Head of Unit Governance and public administration

DANIELE DOTTO

Main contact point for applying for the Technical Support Instrument

REFORM-TSI@ec.europa.eu

Further details on the work related to governance and public administration

REFORM-B2@ec.europa.eu.

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