Focus Group 3: Implementation of the cooperation measure in LEADER
Transnational Cooperation (TNC) is recognised as an important element of the European Commission's LEADER approach to rural development and one which faces challenges in the current 2007-13 programming period. Focus Group (FG) 3 aims to:
- Make recommendations improving implementation procedures, on the basis of an assessment of the following issues:
- Different timing in decision-making and different administrative rules;
- Different expectations from beneficiaries in different Member States;
- Information needs of the different types of partners involved in TNC implementation.
- Identify the key areas in which TNC projects are most needed and/or could contribute most towards meeting the objectives of regional, national or EU rural development strategies.
Juha-Matti Markkola, NRN Finland and Ave Bremse, NRN Estonia
The Focus Group had 38 participants, drawn from 20 Member States, and includes representatives of Managing Authorities, NRN support units, LAGs and one Paying Agency, one NGO and one research institution.
Main activities of Phase 1 (up to LEADER Subcommittee of May 20th, 2010)
- Two full meetings of the group took place, in Estonia on February 16th, 2010 and in Finland on March 30th, 2010. These aimed to identify and suggest solutions to overcome the differences that exist in the selection and management of LEADER TNC projects in different Member States. An initial draft progress report was completed and presented at the LEADER subcommittee meeting of May 20th, 2010. In accordance with its mandate, the Focus Group report included in its report initial ideas for possible solutions related to the following specific issues:
- Different types of decision-making procedures used in Member States for project selection;
- An absence of preparatory technical support;
- Differences in financial support rates to projects;
- Different documentation (and language) requirements;
- Differences in the criteria used to define ‘common actions’;
- Eligibility and split of ‘common costs’;
- How to effectively share information required by different stakeholders at different stages in the project lifecycle;
- The management capacity of LAGs.
DG AGRI and the ENRD Contact Point supported FG3's work. In addition, three web-based meetings were hosted by the ENRD Contact Point. These were used for preparation and summing-up, before and after main face-to-face meetings, which was found very useful by the Focus Group participants.
Main activities of Phase 2 (up to LEADER Subcommittee of November 12th, 2010)
The work of the Focus Group continued into autumn 2010, up to the LEADER subcommittee meeting, which took place in November 2010.
As a follow-up to Phase 1 a mini-survey among FG3 participants and their stakeholders was carried out upon the suggestion of the co-chair. This included LAG/project managers preparing or running TNC projects and administrators involved in the processing of TNC project applications and payments.
The purpose of the survey was to establish further evidence that can help deepen, in particular, the discussion of three issues dealt with by FG3:
- Definition of the common action;
- General categories of common costs;
- Key areas for Cooperation projects.
A synthesis report was communicated and presented to the members of the LEADER subcommittee to inform it about the results of the survey and the related work carried out by FG3. This was based on the outcome of the third FG3 meeting, held in Brussels on the premises of the ENRD Contact Point on 11 November 2010. It establishes the following results:
- For the common action, the survey responses led to the identification of three different types of definitions, which are either process-, result- or expenditure-oriented.
- For the general categories of common costs, FG participants agreed to establish a systematic list, summarising by cost category the expenditure items most frequently referred to. This output was complemented by a ‘case brief’ about a typical LAG approach to the common cost issue.
- Key areas frequently considered for Cooperation projects led to the development of four TNC clusters comprising of genuine cross-border / transnational themes; non-area-specific themes, area-specific themes and target group-oriented themes.
On the basis of the above, the Focus Group in its report makes dissemination proposals, in order to share the information and the related findings, for the benefit of the variety of rural stakeholders potentially interested in TNC.
It is intended to feed the findings of FG3 into other ENRD activities related to the implementation and improvement of EU rural development policy.