European Week of Regions and Cities
7-10 OCTOBER 2019 Brussels

Strengthening the capacity of PAs & stakeholders: the role of ESIF Programmes

The panel will explore the compound role of the ESI Funds in supporting the strengthening of institutional and administrative capacity, with a focus on public administrations and stakeholders. It will discuss the wide range of measures funded via different but interrelated investment strands: the Thematic Objectives 11 and 2 (digital agenda part); the Smart Specialisation Strategies of TO1; the programmes' technical assistance, with focus on the synergies that exist between these different investment strands.


Laura Polverari

European Policies Research Centre - University of Strathclyde


Laura Massoli
Public Administration Department - Presidency of the Council of Ministers (Italy)
The implementation of Thematic Objectives 11 and 2 in Italian National and Regional ESIF Operational Programmes. Strengths and weaknesses, lessons for the future.

Karolina Lipinska
Pomorskie Region – Department of Economic Development
Pomorskie Smart Specialisations: leading role in the development of capacities among regional partners.

Alexandra Vilela
Managing Authority for the Competitiveness and Internationalisation OP (Portugal)
A new approach for financing and promoting the Digital Transformation of Portuguese Public Administration.

Lucio Caporizzi
Director of Programming, Innovation and Competitiveness (Umbria Region)
Umbria’s integrated approach to Administrative Capacity Building and the Smart Specialisation Strategy.

Governance and administrative capacity
Presidency of the Councils of Ministers (Italy)

Session summary

The panel explored the compound role of ESI Funds in supporting the strengthening of institutional and administrative capacity, with a focus on public administrations and stakeholders. It discussed the wide range of interventions funded via different but interrelated investment strands. It comprised 4 presentations of concrete experiences from Italy, Poland and Portugal, based on innovative studies and stock-take exercises by the administrations involved.

The ESI Funds support the development of institutional and administrative capacities through a variety of measures: Technical Assistance; TO11; TO2 (e-government, open data); the involvement of stakeholders and administrations in the development/implementation of the Smart Specialisation Strategies (TO1). Yet the synergies that exist between these different strands of investments are often overlooked in both strategy setting and implementation. With a view to planning for the future of Cohesion policy, the panel showed, through concrete experiences, how different types of interventions have succeeded in strengthening institutional and administrative capacities, and the way synergies are being pursued, including between ROPs & NOPs.

  • Laura Massoli (Italian Deptartment for PA) presented the results of a detailed stock-take exercise of TO11 and TO2 (digital agenda) measures implemented in all Italian ERDF & ESF OPs, discussing strengths, weaknesses and lessons for the future.
  • Karolina LipiƄska (ROP Pomorskie) discussed the key role of the process of design & implementation of Pomorskie’s Smart Specialisation Strategy in the development of capacities among local authorities & beneficiaries, and the complementarities with the NOPs Digital Growth (TO2) and Knowledge Education Growth (TO11).
  • Alexandra Vilela (COMPETE 2020 NOP) presented the support provided by COMPETE 2020, under TOs 2 & 11 to stimulate the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of public services, particularly via projects that support the Digital Transformation of the Portuguese PA.
  • Lucio Caporizzi (Umbria ERDF and ESF OPs) highlighted the challenges and successes of Umbria’s integrated approach to administrative capacity building (TO11) and the digital transformation of the public administrations operating in the regional territory, with references also to the Umbria’s experience in relation to the governance of the Smart Specialisation Strategy.

The experiences presented highlighted important themes:

  • 2014-2020 programmes have enabled the emergence of novel approaches and types of interventions compared to the past programming period;
  • many of the projects for the strengthening and digitalisation of the public sector are still in the early stages of implementation. This means that here is a need to constantly monitor, and potentially readjust, policy and delivery efforts;
  • the scope for synergies between funds and across programmes is indeed considerable and there are concrete examples of how synergies can be fostered and exploited, as illustrated by the examples provided by the speakers;
  • further exchanges of good practices and learning opportunities should be encouraged to foster a virtuous cycle of learning and improvement (also with an eye to the next programming cycle).

Take away message

A lot is being done in the 2014-2020 ESIF programmes to support public administrations in their digital transformation and to build capacities within public authorities and among stakeholders. Such activities aim not only to support the effective implementation of the ESI Funds programmes but also to improve the efficiency of the public sector more widely and for the longer-term.

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