The Commission is to set up a high level group on simplification with the aim of reducing the administrative burden involved in accessing the five European Structural and Investment Funds: the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
The group will independently assess and monitor the uptake of simplification opportunities as part of Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s push for better regulation.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said there is a pressing need for simplification, but this must not be at the cost of sound administrative and financial management. “I do not want to hear again that an SME is no longer interested in receiving our support because it finds it too lengthy, bureaucratic and cumbersome.” The high level group will ensure that member states make full use of the simplification measures included in the new regulations, Creţu said.
Former Commission Vice President Siim Kallas will chair group, which is planned to run for three years. There will be five priorities:
- Facilitating access to funding for SMEs;
- Tackling the ‘goldplating’ practice, where extra requirements or administrative hurdles are added at national or regional level, including in the process of selecting projects.
- Using simpler ways to reimburse costs;
- Increasing the use of online procedures;
- Analysing how projects initiated and managed by local communities are implemented.