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INTERREG invests in innovative and sustainable projects that make Europe stronger. This European subsidy scheme stimulates parties to work together across borders on shared challenges and opportunities in the region. In this way we realize more innovative strength, a better environment and we reduce the economic differences between regions and Member States.
We are looking for knowledge organizations and universities who invest in cross-border regional projects and want to support the 10-point plan. Get in touch with Gosse Vuijk ›
INTERREG is seen by knowledge organizations, universities and industry as a very valuable instrument, partly because of the innovation-oriented research activities with high levels of TRL that can be achieved in the projects. Various (substantively) very successful projects are currently underway in the 2014-2020 program.
Accountability for how public money is spent is crucial and evident, however ... control and accountability experiences are such that they counteract the effectiveness of the implementation and are often contrary to the foreseen impact of the programs. Sometimes in such a way that parties choose not to participate in INTERREG programs. This undermines the objective of the program.
For this reason, the undersigned organizations have drawn up a 10-point plan for improvements in the INTERREG program 2021-2027.
1. Focus even more on applying simplified cost options, such as the use of flat rates for various cost categories. In this way, the financial burden of proof can be reduced. An important condition for this is that the real costs of the project partners remain sufficiently covered.
2. Communicate the rules for the new program in a timely manner, so there is less uncertainty about the interpretation of rules during the implementation and duration of the program. It is important that the MAs can actively and timely inform partners and stakeholders. Limit regulatory changes during the life of the program. Including a list of (interim) changes in the program regulations is very helpful.
3. Harmonize the basic administrative obligations of the different INTERREG schemes. This means that the MA’s have to spend less time on development and implementation of the administration. The project partners in the program will work with recognizable (because equal) administrative obligations. This substantively reduces the risk of errors.
4. Do not impose more rules for procurement than national rules. Refer to the procurement rules from your own Member State and leave room for the procurement procedure of the partners in the project. The assessment "value for money" is often already invested in the (usually also specifically audited) purchasing procedure of the partners.
5. Reduce the administrative burden by harmonizing the declaration format of the cost statement and harmonizing the e-portal / portal. Harmonize the declaration format between the different INTERREG schemes. The aim is to have the (financial) reports run as quickly as possible via the existing EU portal, SEDIA (Single Electronic Data Interchange Area).
6. Improve the user-friendliness of the e-counter / portal. Implementation in the portals of the current program amounts to manual copying of the beneficiary's accounts at cost line level and is therefore very laborious. In addition, the cost rules are individually assessed and settled. The combination of individual cost rules and their presentation in the current e-counters / portals results in a very confusing whole for project partners.
7. Limit the burden of proof required when submitting to the e-portal / portal. This concerns, for example, employment contracts, pay slips, master contracts and tender files, and the repetitive delivery thereof. If proof should already be included in the portal, submitting once should be sufficient. Limit the mandatory uploading of personal data in the e-counter as much as possible, in the spirit of the GDPR.
8. Limit the frequency of financial reporting. Less financial reporting would simplify the process considerably. In the current INTERREG program, it may happen that costs can no longer be claimed due to exceeding the claim period, despite the substantive relevance. Our proposal is to build in a financial report every year, preferably every 18 months. As a result, a sufficient advance can be provided at the beginning of the project so that organizations can enjoy this administrative simplification without risk of financial difficulties.
9. The audit pressure is high because of the many bodies that control each other. Work from the idea of “single-audit” and “cross-reliance on audits”. Establish a hierarchy in implementation and have each successor auditor audit the previous auditor's audit plan and audit implementation, but do not restart at the bottom of the accountability line (with the beneficiary). This prevents the same questions from being asked each time. If the controlling authorities cooperate better and rely more on each other's work, this will make a huge difference in the audit pressure for project partners. Audits are performed by FLC, JS and Audit Authority (ADR). When performing checks, use the existing, conclusive description of the administrative organization and internal control that the partner can provide. By incorporating cross-reliance on audits, a large efficiency gain can be realized.
10. There is uncertainty about the control responsibilities of the MA’s and the project manager. This creates uncertainty between both parties. It would therefore be good to define more precisely what the MA's responsibilities are.
The undersigned organizations: