Meeting notes

    The 7th Consultation and Coordination Group meeting of ENI CBC programmes took place in Brussels on 23-24 November 2022. The meeting gathered both onsite and online over 90 participants, including representatives of programme bodies, DG REGIO, DG NEAR, EEAS, Interact and TESIM. During both days, and in addition to the plenary sessions, bilateral meetings were held between DG REGIO and programmes in order to provide response to the most pressing open questions of these.

    The main messages and outcomes of the meeting were the following:

    Welcoming remarks

    In his opening address, Mr Moray Gilland, Head of D1 Unit for Macro-regions, Transnational/Interregional/External Cooperation, Enlargement at DG Regional and Urban Policy acknowledged that the ENI CBC programmes are operating in difficult circumstances facing the effects of the pandemics, fraudulent elections in Belarus and the Russian military aggression on Ukraine. In order to support programmes in this difficult time and to make the implementation provisions more flexible, a new ad-hoc regulation was adopted by co-legislators on 9 November and entered into force on 12 November. This regulation lays down specific provisions for ENI CBC and ETC 2014-2020, following programme implementation disruption.

    Mr Gilland congratulated the Interreg NEXT Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine Programme that was the first external cooperation programme to be adopted by the European Commission in the beginning of November. The other Interreg NEXT programmes that were submitted to the EC are not far behind and their approval is expected in the next couple of weeks.

    He also noted that the special report of the European Court of Auditors on external cooperation programmes has been finalised, and that the overall outcome of the exercise is positive. One of the recommendations put forward by the auditors refers to coordination between the cooperation programmes and the EU Delegations in the Partner Countries.

    Mr Gilland congratulated two programmes for their visibility efforts: the Mediterranean Sea Basin ENI CBC Programme on their compelling participation to the UN climate change conference in Egypt and the Romania-Ukraine ENI CBC Programme for winning the Interreg Annual event Project slam award with the project “Virtual Reality Unites Carpathians”.

    ENI CBC 2014-2020 programmes: current issues


    The presentation included an overview of the programme state of play based on the main facts and figures, outlining that in 51 calls for proposals 918 projects have been selected and contracted. Programmes were reminded that only 14 months remain until the deadline for the project implementation, and that programmes also need to speed up the financial absorption to be able to use the allocated financing in the remaining period. Slow administrative processes, project selection and contracting as well as lack of coordination were listed as the main issues for the delays. When it comes to the actions for mitigation of decommitment risk, it was suggested to carry out close project monitoring and speed up the verification procedures.

    The session continued with a programme round-table on the major risks related to the programme performance and implementation. Programme representatives stressed that programmes are still feeling the impact of the pandemics which significantly slowed down the implementation pace, as well as the disruption of the implementation of the programmes with Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Republic of Moldova. They also acknowledged that the new ad-hoc regulation provides the necessary solutions and informed that the programmes are analysing the new legal act to decide on the measures that can be flexibly used by them. On top of this, programmes also foresee to mitigate the risks by support to the projects in the final implementation phase, close project monitoring, and consider additional measures that would allow to use the remaining financing in the programmes.

    ENI CBC 2014-2020 programmes: run up to closure


    Representatives of the EC informed that closure guidelines for the ENI CBC programmes are being developed, and reminded programmes of the main deadlines related to the project contracting, programme modifications, closure activities, as well as the submission of the final programme report. Also, the outline of the closure guidelines was presented, as well as the main points to be covered in the final programme reports to be submitted to the EC in February 2025.

    ENI CBC 2014-2020 programmes: major achievements and lessons learnt


    During the session, several lessons collected by the programmes were outlined and an overview of the programme practices in assessment of the cross-border added value was provided. Also, the initial outcomes of the large infrastructure project review were presented, including a short overview of each reviewed category. The overall assessment of the projects is positive, with only few deficiencies related to the project sustainability, ownership, performance, CBC added value, as well as on risk assessment and mitigation.

    Preparation of Interreg NEXT programmes


    As the first Interreg NEXT programme is already adopted, and the others are in the pipeline, the next steps after the programme approval were highlighted and discussed, including the establishment of the monitoring committee and of the joint secretariat, selection of operations for the first calls, as well as communication activities. Also, a short overview of the templates of the financing agreements was provided together with the feedback received from the Partner Countries. The next steps related to the negotiation of the financing agreements and programme activities during this process were also outlined.

    In addition, representatives of DG NEAR and EEAS provided an overview of the situation in Ukraine and Republic of Moldova as well as the EU efforts to help the respective countries.



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