EU LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK
In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a proposal for the new Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. A significant share of the new EU budget is set aside for EU funds delivered in accordance with the Regulation on laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund Plus, the Cohesion Fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and financial rules for those and for the Asylum and Migration Fund, the Internal Security Fund and the Border Management and Visa Instrument (CPR). The Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) is an umbrella regulation that sets out common provisions for the preparation and implementation of the above-mentioned funds for the forthcoming financial period. The additional specific sectoral regulations provide further details on how individual funds are used and managed.
In January 2020, when the new European Commission came into office and put the European Green Deal high on the agenda, the Common Provisions Regulation was amended to introduce a new source of funding – the Just Transition Fund.
The COVID -19 pandemic and its economic impact initiated another amendment of the Common Provisions Regulation in May 2020 in order to strengthen the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
The Common Provisions Regulation and specific sectoral regulations of individual funds are still subject to negotiation between the European Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament.
COHESION POLICY is the European Union’s strategy to promote and support the overall harmonious development of its Member States and regions. It focuses on the activities that aim to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion of the European Union.
Cohesion Policy is delivered through the following funds:
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aims to reduce disparities between the level of development of European regions and to reduce the backwardness of the least- favoured regions. Particular attention is paid to regions which suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps such as the northernmost regions which have very low population densities, islands, cross-border regions and mountain regions.
The Cohesion Fund was established for the purpose of strengthening the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the European Union and to provide financial support to investment in environment and trans-European networks in the area of transport infrastructure (TEN-T).
The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights on 17 November 2017 as a response to social challenges in Europe. It builds upon twenty key principles, structured around three categories: equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. These twenty key principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights serve as guidelines for the implementation of the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+). In order to contribute to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the ESF+ will financially support investing in people, employment, education & skills and social inclusion to support economic, social and territorial cohesion pursuant to Article 174 of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TEC).
The Just Transition Fund will ensure funding as the first pillar of the Just Transition Mechanism to support Cohesion Policy goals of addressing the economic and social impact of transition to a climate neutral and circular economy.
HOME AFFAIRS FUNDS – a more open and safer Europe requires adequate funding that is directed to the policy areas facing collective security challenges. A share of the EU funding is therefore allocated to support EU home affairs, which play a key role in implementing operational cooperation between the EU Member States.
Regulation establishing the Asylum and Migration Fund – June 2018
In order to respond to evolving migration challenges such as the need to strengthen humanitarian admission programmes, asylum, legal migration and integration in the Member States as well as to prevent and tackle irregular and unsafe migration and replace it with legal and safe migration, the investment in the efficient and coordinated migration management in the EU is key to achieving the Union’s goal of establishing the area of freedom, security and justice.
Regulation establishing, as part of the Integrated Border Management Fund, the instrument for financial support for border management and visa – June 2018
The recent development of migration challenges and security issues in the European Union shows the need to preserve a good balance between the free movement and security. The goal of the European Union to ensure a high level of security in the area of freedom, security and justice pursuant to Article 67 (3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) should be achieved, among others, with joint measures on travelling across internal EU borders, surveillance of external borders and a common visa policy.
Regulation on establishing the Internal Security Fund – June 2018
The goal of the European Union to ensure a high level security in the area of freedom, security and justice pursuant to Article 67(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) should be achieved, among others, with the measures for prevention and suppression of crime as well as the measures for coordination and cooperation between the bodies of criminal prosecution and other national bodies of the Member States, including relevant agencies and other relevant bodies of the Union and with the third countries and international organisations.
COMMON FISHERIES POLICY – since the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2002, it aims to ensure sustainable fishing, guaranteed income and stable jobs to fishing community.
Regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Regulation – June 2018
The aim of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is to direct funding from the EU Budget to support the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), maritime policy and international obligations of the Union in ocean management, especially within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In order to deliver Cohesion and Common Fisheries Policies through the funds, each Member State needs to produce programming documents – a Partnership Agreement and operational programmes. These documents are adopted by the European Commission when the above-mentioned legislative framework is adopted.
One of the key elements of the above-mentioned legislative framework is its content. It represents a legislative common framework for all the Member States, which enables the European Union to harmonise its investments and align the direction of economic trends with its priorities. On the other hand, a Member State is responsible for harmonising the European Union’s priorities with the national context and its legislative and strategic framework in order to fulfil the enabling conditions. However, in order to ensure necessary preconditions for the efficient and effective delivery of the Union’s support through the funds, the EU has created a limited list of the enabling conditions and a concise and comprehensive set of objective criteria for their evaluation. Unless these conditions are fulfilled, the expenditure incurred cannot be included in the request for payment submitted to the European Commission by a Member State. In order to keep the efficient framework for investment, the EU will regularly monitor fulfilment of conditions to enable implementation during the entire financial period. It is important to ensure that the support operations are implemented consistently and in accordance with the established strategies and planning documents of every Member State. Fulfilled conditions will enable the implementation ensuring that all the co-financed operations are in accordance with the policy framework of the European Union and the Member State.
The requests put before every Member State could be found in Annex III and Annex IV of the Common Provisions Regulation. See: Uredbe o zajedničkim odredbama.
Programming, the design of programme documents during the programming period, is based both on the Union’s priorities and the priorities of the Member State. Each Member State negotiates the content of programming documents both on national level, through the prioritisation of investment needs between all sectors, and through informal and formal dialogue with the European Commission. During the programming period, many meetings are held in the form of an informal dialogue between the Member State and the European Commission. In this process, the Member State presents national priorities, operations, and a plan of projects and activities that will be financed from the EU funds. In order to ensure funding, each Member State needs to take into consideration its contribution to the common EU goals. What follows then is a formal dialogue, i.e. submission of the programming documents to the European Commission during which the Member State receives the European Commission’s official comments on the submitted documents.
National priorities, operations, projects and activities that a Member State is planning to implement are defined by its strategic framework. They are defined to a more detail in the working groups for programming. In each Member State, the working groups for programming consist of the representatives of responsible bodies on a national, regional and local level from each sector which is responsible for drafting strategic planning documents.
Besides the responsible bodies, the representatives of partners participate in the process of programming, thus ensuring the partnership continuity and implementation of partnership principle. A minimum partnership is ensured with the representatives of responsible regional, local, municipal and other public bodies, economic and social partners as well as civil society representatives, such as partners from the area of environmental protection, NGOs and bodies responsible for the promotion of social inclusion, gender equality and non-discrimination, including the bodies representing local action groups. Special attention will be paid to the partners on local and regional levels which will ensure that all developmental needs and priorities are taken into consideration. In order to maximise the influence of EU funds, it is necessary to achieve close cooperation of public authorities in the Member State on all levels – national, regional and local as well as a cooperation with partners. By including partners in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the EU funded projects, the Member States ensure that the EU funds are used in the most appropriate way and channelled towards the relevant projects.
The representatives of partners from civil society organisations participate in the working groups for programming of the financial period 2021-2027 through a public call for nominating candidates from the civil society in the working groups as well as their alternate members. See: https://udruge.gov.hr/vijesti/poziv-na-predlaganje-kandidata-za-predstavnike-organizacija-civilnoga-drustva-za-clanove-i-zamjene-clanova-radnih-skupina-za-izradu-programskih-dokumenata-za-financijsko-razdoblje-2021-2027/5238. At the proposal of civil society organisations, the Council for the Civil Society Development will nominate up to three members and alternate members as the representatives of civil society organisations in each working group.
The information about the key stages of programming will be available to the public on our social media platforms in due time. Consultations with the interested public are part of the legislative procedure for passing a new law, other regulations or acts, so they regularly include the interested public in the decision-making process through consultations and providing feedback about the proposals of the new law, other regulations or acts. This process contributes to the increased quality of regulations and public services. Therefore, according to Article 11 of the Right to Access to Information Act („Official Gazette“, No. 25/13, 85/15), the programming process includes consultations with the public conducted through the central state consultations portal “e-Consultations” (https://savjetovanja.gov.hr/) as well as other consultation methods with the interested public.
The process of programming also includes a strategic evaluation of the influence of the strategy, plan and programme on the environment in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act (Official Gazette, No. 80/13, 153/13, 78/15, 12/18, 118/18) and Regulation on strategic environmental assessment of strategy, plan and programme (Official Gazette No. 3/17). The strategic evaluation is a procedure to evaluate a probability of significant influence on the environment caused by the implementation of the programme. It is carried out during the process of drafting a programme proposal and before finalising the programme proposal and executing the process of the programme adoption. A study with supporting documentation will be published on the central state consultations portal “e-Consultations” for the purpose of consultations with the interested public.