Structural Funds, draft Partnership Agreement sent to Brussels

20 July 2021

"On 23 June we provided the European Commission with the text of the 2021-2027 Partnership Agreement, which will allow benefiting of approximately EUR 83 billion Structural Funds, from both EU resources and national co-financing. The Commission has appreciated our work to such an extent that it has brought internal consultations forward in order to speed up the negotiations. It is now up to us to proceed quickly and reach a final agreement by mid-September at the latest, thus partly making up for the delay in the publication of the Regulation by Brussels.” Mara Carfagna, Minister for Southern Italy and Territorial Cohesion, announced it at a meeting with some two hundred members involved in the Partnership Agreement, including ministries, Regions and a hundred socio-economic organisations and civil society representatives.

"The resources to be managed are higher than in the previous programming cycle," Minister Carfagna explained. "Of these, more than EUR 56 billion (i.e. two thirds) will finance Regional Operational Programmes (ROPs), while the rest will be allocated to National Operational Programmes (NOPs), reduced from 13 to 10 as urged by the EU Commission." The criterion applied aims at preserving and enhancing the best experiences of the 2014-2020 cycle and introducing new remarkable initiatives such as the “PON Salute” (NOP on Health), strongly sought after by Minister Carfagna to help bridge the healthcare deficits that currently penalise Southern Italy.

As follows, the topics addressed by Italy’s NOPs set out in the Partnership Agreement text sent to Brussels. Details are not yet final as subject to discussion with the EU Commission:

  • Health, unprecedented Programme aimed at overcoming territorial and social disparities by countering poor access to healthcare, strengthening Gender Medicine, enhancing prevention and protection of people suffering from psychological distress, primarily within the most vulnerable groups in less developed regions: approximately EUR 620 million;
  • Innovation, research and competitiveness for green and digital transition, including relevant actions on energy: over EUR 5.6 billion;
  • Culture, to revitalise cultural and other spaces in less developed regions: approximately EUR 650 million;
  • Metro Plus, which reinforces the analogous experience made in the previous cycle, extending it to medium-sized cities in Southern Italy and primarily aiming to improve the quality of life in suburbs and marginal areas: approximately EUR 2.9 billion;
  • Security and legality, to combat criminal and unlawful activities and strengthen security safeguards for development of territories and economic actors: approximately EUR 580 million;
  • School and skills, to combat educational poverty and school drop-outs, notably in Southern regions: over EUR 3.8 billion;
  • Inclusion and poverty, to continue launching services with homogeneous characteristics and standards throughout the national territory, extending the initiative also to minors in difficult conditions, non-self-sufficient elderly persons, and disabled people: over EUR 4.1 billion (to be consolidated with ordinary resources once fully operational);
  • Young people, women and employment, to create new 'decent' jobs, primarily for young people and women: approximately EUR 5.1 billion;
  • Capacities for Cohesion, aimed at recruiting high-level professionals through fixed-term contracts, to strengthen the structures involved in managing cohesion funds: approximately EUR 1.3 billion;
  • Just Transition Fund, to implement the EU Programme, aimed in Italy at decarbonising Taranto and Sulcis Iglesiente areas: approximately EUR 1.2 billion.

"A huge amount of resources is being concentrated on our Country" – Minister Carfagna recalled – in particular with regard to Structural Funds: Southern regions will overall receive more than EUR 54 billion EU and national co-financing, plus EUR 1.2 billion from the Just Transition Fund, for a total of approximately EUR 56 billion.

“It is therefore essential," Minister Carfagna added, "that all national, regional and local administrations promptly develop programming, spending and implementation capacities that prove much greater than in the past. In particular, Regions have an important responsibility. Besides the action pursued with the 'Capacities for Cohesion' NOP, through the 'Governance and Simplification' Decree the Government offered Regions to benefit from the strengthened role entrusted to the Territorial Cohesion Agency, which has been given substitutive powers to possibly remedy administrations’ delays and non-compliance. However, this is a potential role aimed at supporting the functions entrusted to relevant administrations and territories, which remain the main actors and ultimate recipients of the actions undertaken.

The timeschedule imposed by Minister Carfagna aims at concluding the intermediate stages (agreement at the Unified Conference and approval by CIPESS, the Interministerial Department for economic programming and sustainable development) within the next few weeks and successfully notify the Partnership Agreement to the European Commission by mid-September, as announced.

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