Complementarity between the RRF and cohesion: EU public policy governance in France

Joint state/regional governance of EU funds in France allows for ongoing structured dialogue

In 2013, France set up a joint State/Regions Committee to steer cohesion policy. The committee meets on average every three months during intense negotiation phases, as was mostly the case between 2018 and 2021. It was co-chaired during this period by the Minister for Cohesion Policy and the President of Régions de France (the representative body of French regions). The committee brings all regional elected representatives together with the main ministries, and enables key decisions on the implementation of EU funds to be taken on the basis of a shared agenda and prior technical analysis. The establishment of governance in partnership addressed the need for coordination arising from the new decentralisation laws, which delegated management of the European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), 35% of the European Social Fund (ESF) and half of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to the regions for 2014‑2020.

A best practice guide to building policy solutions that work

At this time, the regions had just taken advantage of the flexibility offered by the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) to reorient their 2014‑2020 programmes, demonstrating real agility in the midst of the crisis. It became clear that the same agility should override the risk of double funding. A solution had to be found in the form of swift political compromise to establish clear dividing lines that would allow each party to move forward safely at its own pace amid shifting EU negotiating schedules.

All’s well that ends well

The delays affecting the finalisation of cohesion policy for 2021–2027, which were largely offset by the mobilisation of REACT‑EU, meant that the French partnership agreement was eventually submitted on 17 December 2021, to be followed by the programmes on 17 March 2022. There was thus every opportunity to ensure that no programme priorities overlapped with the NRRP, and plenty of time in which to justify and negotiate priorities with regional partnerships, even though this undoubtedly gave rise to some legitimate regrets, which the simplification process was able to mitigate.

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European Court of Auditors

European Court of Auditors

Articles from the European Court of Auditors, #EU's external auditor & independent guardian of the EU's finances.