The technical adjustment for the years 2017-2020 and the revision of the Partnership Agreement
As envisaged in the approval phase of the European Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020, in 2016, the European Commission reviewed overall appropriations for cohesion policies for each Member State, so as to take into account the impacts of the 2009 economic crisis. This led to a revision of appropriations for the various countries for 2017-2020, with most of the additional resources being allocated to Spain, Italy and Greece. Other countries benefited from the adjustment to a lesser extent, while five countries saw their funding reduced marginally as their socio-economic situations exceeded expectations.
The programming process for the additional resources allocated to Italy, amounting to €1,645.2 million, was substantially completed in 2017, with the definition of the strategy for the use of resources and the modification of the Partnership Agreement and the Programmes interested in using them.
In line with the European priorities of use for strategic investments and major challenges, including the refugee crisis and youth unemployment, about 75% of the resources allocated have been earmarked for strengthening measures already undergoing structural intervention, such as youth employment and the support of productive investments and of small and medium-sized enterprises, while 25% have been allocated to extraordinary events such as the substantial inflows of migrants and the seismic events that hit central Italy in August 2016 and January 2017, which are of high value in terms of solidarity and territorial cohesion.
More specifically, €665.2 million were allocated for initiatives supporting entrepreneurship and production (of which €445.2 million to pursue the National Smart Specialisation Strategy and €220 million to support the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises), €560 million went towards measures for youth employment; €220 million were allocated to measures for the reception and inclusion of migrants, and, finally, €200 million represented the Community solidarity contribution, within the framework of cohesion policies, to the regions affected by earthquakes to reduce seismic risk and rebuild the socio-economic fabric of the territories involved.
Overall, 71.8% of the total resources, of which €1,010.2 million in ERDF funds and €635.0 million from the ESF, were allocated to the less developed regions, while 18.7% went to the more developed regions and 9.5% to those in transition.
The revision of the Partnership Agreement, which in addition to integrating and coordinating the programming of resources from the technical adjustment, also incorporated the outcome of the normal processes of defining and refining programmes in respect of the policy indications in the Agreement adopted at the end of 2014, which impacted on the scale of the thematic objectives and expected results and, consequently, affected the various thematic concentration indicators, in full compliance with the limit values.
Moreover, the revision saw a further increase in EU resources allocated to development and investment within the programming framework of the Agreement, with the increase funded from the specific refinancing of the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) in the amount of €343.0 million and from the resources of the Common Agricultural Policy for EAFRD programmes in the amount of €14.7 million.
The national co-financing of European resources, amounting to €800 million, was secured with resources from the 2014-2020 Development and Cohesion Fund (see CIPE Resolution No. 50/2017).
Changes to the Programmes
The programming of the resources from the technical adjustment involved a limited number of existing Programmes, mainly national, except for the solidarity contribution for the seismic events, whose programming involved the Programmes of the four regions affected (Marche, Lazio, Umbria and Abruzzo).
In particular, the Enterprises and Competitiveness NOP, whose scope of intervention was extended to the more developed regions, was reprogrammed in order to support the industries in the sectors of the National Smart Specialisation Strategy and to increase integration between public and private financing and between grants and financial instruments. It also incorporated the resources allocated to small and medium-sized enterprises, amounting to €220 million, pending changes in the rules that will allow the duration of the SME Initiative Programme to be extended to the entire 2014-2020 programming period.
The Youth Employment Initiative NOP received funding from both the technical adjustment and specific resources from the refinancing of the YEI. The revision of this Programme was also correlated with the reprogramming of the Systems for Active Employment Policies NOP and the Education NOP, which are not among the recipients of additional resources, but which have made it possible, through the transfer of ESF resources to the YEI NOP, to satisfy the requirement to accompany the specific additional resources from the YEI refinancing with an equal amount of ESF resources for each category of region.
As regards the measures for the migrant emergency, the national programmes affected by the programming of additional resources were the Legality NOP, with actions mainly aimed at the less developed regions, and the Social Inclusion NOP.