Study: Review of the Adopted Partnership Agreements

A comprehensive analysis, Review of the Adopted Partnership Agreements, offers insight into the implementation of the elements that were endorsed by the European Parliament during the negotiations on the legislative framework. The study highlights the compliance of the Partnership Agreements with the legal provisions, the state of play of the ex-ante conditionalities, and the alignment with the Europe 2020 Strategy. Strategic choices of the Member States as well as their programme architecture and coordination tools are described in the 28 summaries included in the study. 


- The ESI Funds and the Thematic Objectives (TO) have been applied in a comprehensive manner. All 28 Member States have chosen to use the ESF, the ERDF and the EAFRD. 27 Member States have applied the EMFF (only Luxembourg did not) and all eligible Member States have used the Cohesion Fund.

- The principles of partnership and public consultation (Art. 5 of the CPR) have been implemented in most Member States with an active participation of a broad range of national and regional bodies, economic and social partners as well as the civil society in the consultation process. The partnership arrangements are well described in the PA documents.

- All Member States have mono-fund OPs. 20 Member States have used the option to use multi-fund OPs. Those that do not use this option can be described as having a rather sectoral approach to the funding.

- Most Member States used all TOs. Only Luxemburg, Denmark and the Netherlands have concentrated on a limited number of TOs due to the small size of the budget.

- The TOs with the highest percentage of overall funding are TO 6 (preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency - 15%), TO 7 (14.8%) and TO 3 (enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs - 13.9%).

- Looking at the use of ESIF to support the TOs, the ERDF and the EAFRD support a wide range of TOs; the CF funds mainly TOs 4 to 7; the ESF 8 to 11 TOs. TO 11 will mainly be funded through the ESF. The EMFF mainly supports the TOs 3, 4, 6, 8. Landlocked countries such as Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia use the EMFF to support SMEs.

- The Country Specific Recommendations (CSR) are taken into account in all the PAs. The CSR have generally been seen as consistent with the national strategies and the relevant parts were decisive for the choice of TOs and priorities in the OPs.

- There appear to be no major hurdles to establishing coherence between national needs as defined in national development programmes and the CSR on the one hand, and the requirements of thematic concentration and the Europe 2020 targets on the other hand. The synergies between the use of ESIFs and national instruments are also outlined in most PAs.

- In addition to the coordination between the ESIF, the PAs describe the coordination with other EU funding programmes and national instruments.

- The general ex ante conditionalities and most of the thematic ex ante conditionalities tend to be fulfilled in the older Member States. The newer the Member States to the Union, the fewer general ex ante conditionalities appear to be fulfilled.

- Most countries developed functioning IT systems in the previous programming period. These are being further developed and adapted in the current period to improve interoperability between the systems catering for the different ESI funds and in order to be fully compatible with the Structural Funds Management. 

- A large proportion of countries include CLLD as a continuation of the Local Action Groups (LAGs) under the EAFRD or ERDF. Others foresee a combination of ERDF, EAFRD and EMFF, EAFRD and ESF or EAFRD and EMFF or EAFRD, ERDF and ESF in an integrated CLLD approach.

- ITIs are often used exclusively for the urban dimension and are mainly funded through the ERDF, although some countries also use them for rural or mixed areas.

- Most countries are involved in macro-regional strategies (MRS) and sea basin strategies with the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) being the most prominent.

- Most countries, with the exception of Germany, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxemburg, describe which geographical areas will receive specific attention. A number of countries also outline their territorial approach to addressing poverty (Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia and the United Kingdom).

Source: European Parliament's Study on Review of the Adopted Partnership AgreementsISBN 978-92-823-7913-4 , Manuscript completed in September, 2015, Brussels, © European Parliament, 2015