News
EoRPA related news stories can be viewed below, for more general EPRC news please visit the news page of our website here.
EPRC exploring new ideas for Cohesion Policy 2020+
In the context of the intensifying debate on the post-2020 EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), EPRC has published a paper on options for the future of EU Cohesion policy, written by John Bachtler, Carlos Mendez and Fiona Wishlade. The paper ‘Evolution or Revolution? Exploring New Ideas for Cohesion Policy 2020+’. reviews the contributions to the overall budget debate, notably the MFF Review and takes stock of the emerging evidence on the operation and performance of the policy in 2007-2013 and 2014-20. The paper then discusses the options for change with respect to the added value of Cohesion policy, increased flexibility, simplification, differentiation, synergies, performance and the links with economic governance.

The paper was drafted under the aegis of the European Regional Policy Research Consortium (EoRPA), a programme of research and knowledge exchange carried out by EPRC and funded by national and regional government authorities in 11 countries.
Contact: John Bachtler

IQ-Net Briefing Paper on Simplification of Cohesion Policy
Following the recent IQ-Net conference on simplification of Cohesion policy in November 2015 in Cardiff, the network prepared a briefing paper summarising the views of partners on simplification - in terms of progress made, areas of concern, and recommendations for the future. The aim of the paper is to contribute to the ongoing discussions on ways to simplify the delivery of Cohesion policy, e.g. in the European Commission's High-Level Group on Simplification.
Contact: Stefan Kah

EPRC Seminar: Capacity and performance variation for EU Structural Funds in Bulgaria and Romania. Going beyond the administrative capacity nexus?
On Wednesday 24 June, EPRC hosted a seminar by Neculai-Cristian Surubaru, a visiting PhD Researcher at EPRC and Teaching Assistant at Loughborough University. The aim of the seminar was to address the core question: What explains the variation in capacity and performance within and between Bulgaria and Romania in terms of Structural Funds management and implementation for 2007-2013? Drawing on interview-based research findings and an analytical approach based on qualitative data coding, a model incorporating administrative and political variables served to identify the most critical associated factors as expressed by respondents. Key findings are that the absorptive capacity of administration is highly influenced by factors such as political centralism and clientelism, but also that Bulgaria and Romania have fundamental differences in their administration of ESI Funds.
Contact: Neculai-Cristian Surubaru

Policy Reform under Challenging Conditions: EPRC hosts 35th annual European regional policy conference
The challenging political and economic context for regional policy and the recent reforms of EU policies were among the key themes of the 35th Annual Conference of the European Regional Policy Research Consortium held at Ross Priory, Loch Lomondside, Scotland, on 5-7 October 2014. The Conference, chaired by John Bachtler, brought together senior regional policymakers from across Europe to debate the current state of national regional policies, EU Competition policy control of State aid, the reform of EU Cohesion policy and regional policy evaluation. The Conference sessions were based on research reports and presentations prepared by EPRC, following research conducted in 30 European countries during 2013-14. By way of introduction, Sara Davies gave an assessment of the recent evolution of regional and local problems and the development challenges facing policymakers, followed by an assessment of how the management and implementation of policy is changing, given by Frederike Gross. Laura Polverari also presented a review of the role of regional policy evaluation and recent trends in approaches and methods for evaluating effectiveness. Shifting the focus of the debate, two papers were presented on policy reforms at EU level, first on the implementation of the reformed EU Regional Aid Guidelines by Fiona Wishlade, and then an assessment of the state of programming under EU Cohesion policy for the 2014-2020 period and scenarios for further policy reform after 2020 by Carlos Mendez. Managed by EPRC, EoRPA is a research programme funded by government departments from Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. More information about EoRPA is available here.
Contact: John Bachtler or Sara Davies or Fiona Wishlade

Launch of European Structural & Investment Funds Journal
John Bachtler and Carlos Mendez have published an article in the first volume of the European Structural and Investment Funds Journal (ESTIF) reviewing the experiences of implementing the 2007-2013 programmes and lessons for the upcoming 2014-2020 period. The journal aims to provide a platform for knowledge exchange with policy-makers. Several EPRC staff are members of the editorial board: Fiona Wishlade, Rona Michie and Dirk Ahner (visiting Professor at EPRC). The first volume of the journal can be ordered for free here.
Contact: John Bachtler or Carlos Mendez

New publication on EU law of State aid
Fiona Wishlade has contributed the chapter on regional aid to the second edition "European Community Law of State Aid", edited by Kelyn Bacon of Brick Court Chambers. It offers comprehensive coverage of State aid law and policy, including chapters on the various forms of both horizontal and sectoral aid, as well as detailed commentary on the State aid enforcement procedures in the Commission, European Court and the national courts. The new edition has been fully updated and revised to cover the developments since 2009, including a chapter on the financial sector. The text also incorporates the most recent legislative developments during June and July this year: the adoption of the 2014-2020 Regional Aid Guidelines, the new Banking Communication, and the amendments to the Procedural Regulation and the Enabling Regulation. The book is published by Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-966506-8. Further information is available here.
Contact: Fiona Wishlade

Regional policy in times of austerity: EPRC hosts 34th European regional policy conference
Regional policy in times of austerity against the and the recent reforms of EU policies were among the key themes of the 34th Conference of the European Regional Policy Research Consortium EoRPA held at Ross Priory, Loch Lomondside, Scotland, on 6-8 October 2013. The Conference, chaired by John Bachtler, brought together senior regional policymakers from across Europe to debate the current state of national regional policies, EU Competition policy control of State aid, and the reform of EU Cohesion policy. The Conference sessions were based on research reports and presentations prepared by EPRC, following research conducted in 30 European countries during 2013. By way of introduction, Sara Davies gave an assessment of the recent evolution of regional and local problems and the development challenges facing policymakers. This was followed by the presentation of a typology of regional policy responses given by Fiona Wishlade and an assessment of how the management and implementation of policy is changing, given by Martin Ferry. Focusing on employment and skills issues, Sara Davies also presented a review of the role of labour market policies in regional policy. Shifting the focus of the debate, two papers were presented on policy reforms at EU level, first on changes to the EU Regional Aid Guidelines by Fiona Wishlade, and then an assessment of reforms to EU Cohesion policy in the 2014-2020 period by Carlos Mendez. Managed by EPRC, EoRPA is a research programme funded by government departments from Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. More information about EoRPA is available here.
Contact: John Bachtler or Fiona Wishlade

EPRC comments on presentation of the draft Regional Aid Guidelines
Fiona Wishlade was a speaker at the 11th experts’ forum on new developments in European State aid law in Brussels on 7 June. She was invited to comment on the presentation of the proposed Regional Aid Guidelines 2014-20 given by Blanca Rodriguez-Galindo, Head of the Regional Aid Unit at DG Competition. Fiona’s comments focussed on the issues of incentive effect, the role of economic analysis in the Commission’s assessment of regional aid policy and the proposals to restrict the use of regional aid to large firms in all but the most disadvantaged areas. In addition, she provided a background paper outlining the main issues in the reforms on regional aid in the draft Regional Aid Guidelines 2014-20 and in the draft General Block Exemption Regulation 2014-20. The background paper is available here.
Contact: Fiona Wishlade

EPRC Policy Briefing: Commission perspectives on the 2014-2020 Partnership Agreements & Programmes: A comparative review of the Position Papers
The post-2013 reform of EU Cohesion policy is at a critical juncture. Following the agreement by the Heads of State on the 2014-2020 EU Budget in February 2013, the inter-institutional negotiations between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on Cohesion policy funding and on the regulatory package are currently underway. In parallel, the strategic planning for the next round of Structural and Cohesion Funds programmes is well-advanced in many Member States.

This EPRC Policy Briefing reviews the Commission's emerging position on the new Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes, based on a comparative analysis of the Commission's Position Papers for all Member States. The Briefing can be downloaded here.
Contact: Carlos Mendez or John Bachtler

Revised EPRC Briefing on the Draft Regional Aid Guidelines
Following the publication of new unemployment data and Commissioner Almunia's contribution to the European Parliament debate, EPRC has produced a revised briefing note on the Draft Regional Aid Guidelines. This is available here.
Contact: Fiona Wishlade

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