The European Policies Research Centre (EPRC) organised the 47th IQ-Net conference in Delft, which was hosted by Kansen voor West, West Netherlands. The conference gathered regional and national Structural Funds programme authorities from 16 EU Member States and the European Commission to discuss how Cohesion Policy programme authorities prepare for the 2021-27 framework period.
The first session of the conference focussed on experiences with the 2014-20 programmes. Fabian Gal of EPRC presented a paper on ‘Speeding up Spending: Taking steps towards faster project implementation’. Discussions during the session addressed programme implementation issues, such the variation in financial absorption and achievement of targets; communication with intermediate bodies and beneficiaries; the balance between flexibility and stability of the programme; and coordination challenges. Finally, the IQ-Net partners discussed their experience of using simplified cost options and financial instruments.
The second session, and the main theme of the conference, began by a presentation by Heidi Vironen of EPRC based on a paper ‘Preparing for 2021-27: Programming, Projects and Stakeholders’. The discussions that followed addressed the state-of-play with programming and lessons from project generation and selection in the current framework period. The participants responded to the overview of lessons on stakeholder engagement in 2014-20 and capacity building needs in a roundtable discussion and smaller workshop groups. A representative from DG Regio gave an expert overview of the European Commission’s administrative capacity building strategy post-2020. Finally, EPRC’s Martin Ferry concluded the conference, summing up the capacity building needs related to widening communication strategies and stakeholder engagement.
After the conference, the participants were shown practical examples of ERDF projects in West Netherlands with a project visit to the YES!Delft and The Green Village in Delft. They support the development of start-up businesses in the technology field, maintaining close links with Delft Technical University, and accelerate implementation of sustainable innovations through a real-life field lab for innovation experiments.