The Structural Funds in 2010 (22th Report)
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2010 was the eleventh year in which Structural Funds programmes and projects for the 2000-2006 programming period were implemented. Altogether 718  operational programmes were managed in 2010.
In 2010, the closure process began for the majority of the 2000-2006 operational programmes. Most of the related closure documents were submitted by Member States in September 2010. The general framework for the closure of 2000-2006 Structural Funds assistance was set out in Commission Decision C(2006)3424 in 2006, amended by Commission Decisions C(2008)1362 and C(2009)960.
The recovery package proposed by the Commission in response to the financial crisis allowed for an extension of six (or twelve) months to be granted on a programme-by-programme basis for those Member States which opted for it. This flexibility allowed Member States and regions to maximise the absorption of the allocated funds by addressing unexpected programme implementation challenges and, consequently, achieve the objectives of the programmes.
In addition to the implementation of 2000-2006 Structural Funds programmes and projects and preparation for their closure, the Commission was also heavily involved in the implementation of 434 programmes (317 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), 117 European Social Fund (ESF))  of the 2007-2013 period in 2010.
In order to be able to demonstrate the added value of European cohesion policy, the Commission continued to carry out the ex post evaluation of Objectives 1 and 2 for the 2000-2006 period. The synthesis report of the ex post evaluation was published in April 2010 . Furthermore, the ex post evaluations for Community initiatives URBAN  and INTERREG , launched in 2008, were published in June 2010. The ex post evaluation of the EQUAL Community Initiative was launched in early 2009 and its preliminary results presented in early 2010. Concerning the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG), the ex post evaluation was undertaken in 2009 and was presented in May 2010 . In December 2010, the Commission also presented the ex post evaluation of Leader+ , while the evaluation of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) Guidance Section is on going.
Sharing of experience was promoted, notably through interregional and urban networks and the conference "Regions for Economic Change: building sustainable growth" on 20th and 21st May with 755 participants from all 27 countries.
The 8th edition of OPEN DAYS ‘European week of regions and cities’ organised jointly by the Commission and the Committee of Regions took place on 4-7 October 2010. It brought together 5,900 local, regional, national and European decision-makers and experts in the field of regional and local development. In addition to this 263 local events were organised in 33 countries. The event is an arena for cooperation and networking, for sharing knowledge and experience, and offers regions and cities a possibility to showcase their achievements. It also offers the ideal opportunity to highlight the synergies between cohesion policy and other EU policies.
The Belgian presidency organised a two-day conference (18 and 19 November 2010) on "The role of the ESF in the fight against poverty and social exclusion". Work sessions were organised over two half days with focus on the role of the ESF as a policy instrument in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.
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