Cohesion and transparency policies
OpenCoesione is an open-government initiative aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of cohesion-policy funding and at promoting widespread civic engagement through transparency and open data.
Transparency in European legislation
In Europe, there are general rules on transparency and access to public information, such as the directive on the reuse of public-sector information (2013/37/EU), which introduces automatic rights to the reuse of information, which must be affordable for all and always available for libraries, museums, archives, etc.
There are also sector-specific provisions in the EU regulations concerning the Structural Funds, the specific objective of which is to ensure transparency in cohesion policies.
- the general Regulation on the 2007-2013 Structural Funds (Article 69, no. 1083/2006) require the Managing Authorities of programmes to publish a minimum set of information on beneficiaries of the funds, on projects financed, and on the related amounts. As a result, this information is published on the websites of each Operational Programme in Italy and is not necessarily coinsistent with the implementation data found on OpenCoesione, which comes from the Unitary Monitoring System managed by RGS-IGRUE;
- the general Regulation on the 2014-2020 Structural Funds (Article 115, no. 1303/2013) requires Member States to publish beneficiary information in open data format (with a reuse licence and metadata), which can be done on a centralised website, and to specify the minimum level of information to be published (Annex XII) with greater detail than for the 2007-2013 cycle. OpenCoesione is the single website in Italy concerning implementation of 2014-2020 cohesion policies, although it remains possible for each Managing Authority to autonomously publish information concerning projects financed and beneficiaries on their own websites.
Transparency in Italian legislation
In Italy, the general open government strategy is pursued within the scope of the Digital Agenda (Article 47 of Decree Law 5/2012, ratified with amendments with Law 35/2012) in accordance with the principles of the Open Government Declaration and of the International Open Data Charter.
The main legislative provisions concerning transparency are the following:
a) Legislative Decree 33/2013 (the “Transparency Decree”), which defines the principle of transparency as “total accessibility of the data and documents held by government bodies for the purpose of protecting citizens’ rights, promoting the participation of the parties involved in the activities of public administration, and facilitating disseminated forms of monitoring the performance of government functions and the use of public resources”.
The Transparency Decree governs:
- procedures related to the obligations of publishing data, other information and documentation on the websites of government bodies;
- the freedom of information, which grants everyone the right to access the documents and data held by government beyond that subject to mandatory publication. This right was introduced with Legislative Decree 97/2016 in order to facilitating disseminated forms of monitoring the performance of government functions and the use of public resources and to promote public debate.
The purpose of the legislation is to use new communication tools and technologies to increase the openness and accessibility of government actions involving the public, in terms of both civic control and involvement in the decision-making process.
b) Legislative Decree 82/2005 (the “Digital Government Code”), which establishes that government data and documentation must be open by default, with a view to fostering the use of this information.
In 2014, based on the Digital Government Code, the working group of the Agency for a Digital Italy drafted national guidelines for the promotion of public information.
With regard to cohesion policies, in addition to Italian national policy instruments and EU rules, specific references to transparency concerning financed projects and beneficiaries can be found in:
- the Cohesion Action Plan, which includes the obligation to release information concerning the individual projects in open format
- the 2014-2020 Partnership Agreement, adopted on 29 October 2014, which ensures—including through OpenCoesione—compliance with European Commission requirements for the publication of information regarding 2014-2020 ESI Funds projects and beneficiaries (section 4.2).
OpenCoesione gathers, analyses and publishes the results of a survey of all Managing Authorities of Operational Programmes co-financed by the EDRF and ESI Funds in Italy and Europe.