PREPARING THE 2014-2020 STRUCTURAL FUNDS PROGRAMMING PERIOD For Housing federations & members
IN 3 STEPS
Be in the bigger picture
(deadline: January 2013 — if not yet done, hurry up)
1.1 Ask for a meeting with the ministry/ entity in charge of preparing the Partnership Agreement with the European Commission Who is this entity? Usually the ministry of finance, but it could also be an inter-ministerial agency. It depends on the country. What is this Partnership Agreement? That is a complicated name to say the national investment strategy for 2014-2020, which is ‘negotiated’ and agreed by the European Commission and the Member State. Each Member State will have to tell the European Commission (in this Partnership Agreement document). 1. What investment priorities (also called thematic objectives) they have for the country and why? They will have to choose those priorities among a list of predefined thematic objectives (see below) which are all related to the EU 2020 strategy for a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The good news is that many of those priorities more or less relate to housing.
2. Which mix of Funds (ERDF, ESF, Rural Development Fund, Maritime Fund) and which allocation over the 20142020 they would like to get for each investment priority. 3. Whether all relevant EU legislation for those investment priorities have been put in place (for instance the implementation of the EPBD or the Energy Efficiency Directive1 if they want to have a investment priority on low-carbon economy) and if not, what the actions planned are (that is the so-called ex-ante conditionalities in case someone mention it to you. Not to be confused with the macro-conditionalities, which are much more controversial and relate to the macro-economic conditions of a country and would for instance prevent a country with a high debt/GDP ratio from getting EU funds) There is also an obligation for the Member State (article 5 of the Regulation on Common Provisions for the Structural Funds2) to discuss and agree with regional, local authorities and non-governmental organisations. This is where national and regional housing federations should step in and the justification why you ask for a meeting!
A speficic note on the EED, since it requires that Member States have a roadmap for the renovation of their entire building stock by 2050 (article 3a of the Directive) and that financial mechanisms should be put in put in place to finance the new obligations in terms of energy efficiency (article 15a of the Directive) 2 http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/what/future/proposals_2014_2020_en.cfm#1 1
1.2. When you get the meeting with your Government, what should you tell them? Well, first of all, your objective will be to be guaranteed that you will be consulted at every stage of the preparation of the Partnership Agreement. Second you will already start insisting that housing should be clearly linked to the investment priorities the
Government will present to the European Commission. For instance, you will argue that in the explanation of why your Government wants a priority on low carbon economy (financed by the European Regional Development Fund), needs in terms of refurbishment of affordable housing should be mentioned. Or you will present the importance of giving housing organisations a support to their activities around labour market inclusion as part of the national investment priority on employment (financed by the European Social Fund).
It could be summarised in the table below: Thematic objectives proposed by the European Commission (see list below)
Eligible actions proposed by the affordable housing sector
Justification in terms of needs
Justification in terms of expected impact3
Proposed co-financing mechanisms
Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors;
Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors;
Thousands of dwellings are falling under energy band E, F, G Thousands of households spent more than 10% of their disposable income for energy expenditure
Hundreds of direct jobs in the construction/insulation sector will be created Hundreds of indirect jobs (through supply chain effect) Number of households will have their energy consumption decrease by X%
ERDF and other EU funds to finance 30% of the costs Other public subsidies: 30% Eco-loans
Note: entries in the table are only examples
List of thematic objectives for the Structural Funds
(article 9 of the draft common provision regulation) (1) strengthening research, technological development and innovation;
(2) enhancing access to, and use and quality of, information and communication technologies; (3) enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, the agricultural sector (for the EAFRD) and the fisheries and aquaculture sector (for the EMFF); (4) supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors; (5) promoting climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management; (6) protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency; (7) promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures; (8) promoting employment and supporting labour mobility; (9) promoting social inclusion and combating poverty; (10) investing in education, skills and lifelong learning; (11) enhancing institutional capacity and an efficient public administration.
All this might look a bit too detailed for a meeting with the Government. But the sooner you have this overview of your needs and potential contribution to bigger investment priorities, the greater chance you get to succeed!
The European Commission has proposed a list of common indicators for all funds. This list is subject of discussions in the European Parliament and in the Council as the propose indicators are not seen as appropriate. You can however use them for your lobbying purposed as they are quite general. See the list in annex of the ERDF Draft Regulation: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/official/regulation/pdf/2014/proposals/regulation/erdf/erdf_proposal_en.pdf 3
1.3 Send the same table to the European Commission Indeed, the European Commission has its own information about the socio-economic situation of each Member State. Why not help by informing them on the housing needs in your local context?
You should send it to the Head of Geographic Units covering your country. See the list below:
Geographical Unit covering
Head of Unit
BELGIUM, FRANCE, LUXEMBOURG
IRELAND, UNITED KINGDOM
GERMANY and NETHERLANDS
ESTONIA, FINLAND, LATVIA
LITHUANIA, SWEDEN, DENMARK
Talk local! (Deadline: April 2013)
As you certainly know, Structural Funds & Cohesion Policy are about REGIONS. So you wonâ€™t escape from working at the regional level. Either with your regional offices or with your members directly in cities.
2.1. Organise a meeting with your regional offices or local members To inform them about the EU funding opportunities in the field of energy efficiency, investment in social infrastructures, urban regeneration, trainingâ€Ś To help them prepare the same table you prepared above for the central Government While the central government will be negotiating with the European Commission about the national strategy, regions and now cities will start thinking about the regional strategy. And since it is where the money will ultimately flow to support programmes and projects, there should be housing programmes and projects ready to be supported!
Identify with them projects or schemes that could receive the support of Structural Funds (ESF and ERDF) in particular for innovative financing (for instance using ESF to create funds for social entreprises, using ERDF to create revolving funds for energy efficiency programmes at the local level). If needed, inform them about successful projects in other EU countries4. Convince them that it is worth the effort. Indeed, some might think by now that it is a lot of work for a tiny part of the resources needed to carry out a project. Well, it is true that the co-financing rate by the EU will in most cases not go over 50% of the costs if you are in a richer region, and could be even as low as 20%. But we have plenty of examples of projects by now and they all come to the same conclusion: EU support has brought something more in terms of visibility, achievement above the original targets, or quality of relationship between the actors.
For that, the European Commission will publish soon a study with many interesting case studies (for further information contact email@example.com) 4
2.2. Organise a meeting with your members and the managing authorities of the Funds at regional level What are the managing authorities? To manage the Structural Funds at the regional level Member states designate a managing authority which will inform potential beneficiaries, select the projects and generally monitor implementation. But the new Regulations on Structural Funds give the possibility for cities to manage directly the funds. It is also interesting to know that Managing Authorities will be allowed to select an entity (it could be a social housing organisation) to lead a programme or series of project as part of community-led local development (article 28 to 31 of the Common Provisions Regulation5).
Be prepared to monitor (milestones in 2017 and 2019)
If you manage to get to this step, you can relax a bit. But do not underestimate the importance of tracking what is going on the ground. It is not only good to get to know success stories, but it is also crucial to learn about the problems, the obstacles and then be able to differentiate between what requires an EU solution or what requires a national/local solution to those problems. Member States will be legally required to report to the European Commission in 2017 and 2019 about the progress made under each investment priority. It means that regions will have to set up a reporting mechanism which unlike the 2007-2013 programming period will not simply look at whether and how money is spent, but whether the qualitative and quantitative targets set at regional level have been achieved.
Regional governments might argue that it is too soon to talk about the regional priorities since the EU regulations have not been yet adopted. But you should tell them that there are in many countries informal discussions going on, that the negotiations wonâ€™t change the list of investment priorities and that you have many ideas for projects that have a huge economic impact. It is at this stage that you will need to use the argument of the economic impact (socio-economic return on invest) of investing in housing related activities!
3.1.Set up a communication tool (a webforum for instance) that will allow an easy reporting from your members up to you and then to CECODHAS Housing Europe 3.2.Prepare documents about the regional socioâ€“economic impact of the use of Structural Funds in the housing sector. This point is key for our lobbying at the EU level. Indeed many EU decision makers are still a bit sceptical about whether investing in affordable housing is the best way to use EU money in particular in terms of support to growth. This programming period 2014-2020 should serve to give a clear (and positive!) answer to this question.
After all that, if you still need some helpâ€Ś. you are very welcome to contact us! CECODHAS Housing Europe The Federation of public, cooperative and social housing CECODHAS Housing Europe is a network of national and regional housing federations of housing organisations. Together the 43 members in 18 European members States manage 25 million dwellings which represent 12% of the total housing stock. Its members work together for a Europe that provides access to decent and affordable housing for all in communities which are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and where all are enabled to reach their full potential.
To contact CECODHAS Housing Europe: Housing Europe Center - 18 square de Meeus /1050 Brussels - BELGIUM Tel: +32 2 541 05 63 - Fax: +32 2 541 05 69 Web: www.housingeurope.eu e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Graphic Design by Diane Morel