EPRC’s Dr Laura Polverari coordinated for the second year running, in her role of Scientific Director, the recently published Monitoring Report on the Implementation of Thematic Objectives 11 and 2 in all Italian ESIF programmes (ROPs and NOPs). The report is one of the institutional activities of the TO11-TO2 Steering Committee, foreseen by the Italian 2014-2020 Partnership Agreement and operating under the aegis of the Department of Public Function of the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers, with the technical assistance of EY Italia.
The purpose of the report is to provide detailed insights on the implementation of the two TOs, in order to support their continued development, and to provide useful information for the ongoing discussions on the upcoming 2021-2027 planning period. While retaining the key features of previous years, this year’s report presents a number of innovations whichinclude: (i) strengthening of the report’s quantitative dimension, through a detailed analysis of reprogramming exercises, financial performance, project pipelines, and average project values; (ii) reinforcement of the qualitative analysis with the realisation of thematic case studies on improving the performance of the Public Administration (through the creation of associations and cooperation among local authorities, and the re-engineering of PA processes -TO11) and the territorial deployment of intangible infrastructures (TO2); (iii) open access publication of an extensive projects’ database, inclusive of programmatic commitments and classification by implementation modality and thematic area of intervention (in csv and xls formats); (iv) a series of ‘Appendices’ with project examples on each main topic presented in the report; and (v) an ‘Addendum’ dedicated to the achievement of performance framework targets.
The report highlights a number of notable findings:
· The year 2018 marked a significant improvement for both TOs. Compared to 2017 and to the average values of the programmes/funds, during 2018 all three indicators utilised to map out the financial performance of the two TOs - commitment capacity, implementation efficiency and utilization capacity – improved considerably.
· Various factors have facilitated the implementation of the two TOs. To a large extent these factors refer to the implementation and to the overall governance of the programmes but, in some cases, actions were carried out to support the two TOs’ implementation and to boost expenditure under both TOs. With the necessary adaptations, this range of actions could be replicated in the programmes that are currently less advanced with the implementation of the two TOs.
· Synergies between the two TOs, with the other TOs, and with the Administrative Strengthening Plans are quite frequent. There is, however, potential to strengthen synergies between ROPs and NOPs, and those with domestic regional policy and domestic programmes at large.
· The thematic cases studies – which altogether reviewed 12 projects from both ROPs and NOPs - revealed common weaknesses and strengths, showing a need for exchanges of experience and know-how for which national government, and specifically the TO11-TO2 Steering Committee, could play a leading role.
It also highlights important lessons for the 2021-2027 programming period. The different architecture of cohesion policy envisaged in the Commission's proposals arguably anticipates the need for coordination and stimulus activity from the Centre. While the issue of administrative capacity building does not appear uniquely outlined and framed in a specific objective, the need to improve the quality of public administration as a key precondition for the success of public policies (and, more generally, for the competitiveness of the country) remains. Ensuring the achievement of an overall strategic vision for institutional and administrative capacity building, as well as an adequate overall governance to deliver such vision, appears more urgent and necessary than ever. From the planning stage, this governance should consider the synergies and the integration between ROPs and NOPs, between digital transformation and the strengthening of administrative capacity, as well as between these and national policies. A forum like the TO11-TO2 Steering Committee could evolve to become pivotal to achieve these ambitions.
The executive summary of the report is available in both English and Italian, with the full report, appendices, addendum on performance framework achievements and full datasets also available for download from the page of the TO11-TO2 website (ot11ot2.it – in Italian).