PART 8: NEXT STEPS
Governance Arrangements and Ministerial Approval
1. The proposals in Part 5 are the result of a significant amount of work, in a very short space of time. This has given us a sense of direction for the programmes, and a sense of the balance between the different thematic objectives and investment priorities.
2. We will aim to convene the Partnership Agreement Monitoring Committee early in the new year, with a view to that Committee endorsing the approach to the Partnership Agreement, and the general shape of the proposals. This information, and any comments or recommendations made by the PAMC, will be presented to Ministers for a decision on what is to be included in the Partnership Agreement and Operational Programmes.
3. The PAMC and Ministers will also be asked to take a view on Governance arrangements going forward. Although the PAMC will help retain direction and strategic focus, it is likely that the Strategic Delivery Partnerships or something like them will take on day-to-day monitoring and advisory functions for Structural Funds. EAFRD and EMFF monitoring and reporting arrangements may be slightly different, as these also need to align with UK EMFF and Scottish Common Agricultural Policy arrangements.
Regulations and Submission of Programme Documentation
4. Final discussions on the agreement of the Multi Annual Financial Framework and legislative package are on-going and it is currently anticipated that the new regulations will be adopted and brought into force by January 2014.
5. We have been engaging with the Commission on the development of the Partnership Agreement and new Structural Funds Programmes and remain in a position to submit the programme documentation to the Commission for approval when the regulatory environment allows, although there may be some delays in negotiating the entire UK package through the Commission due to the complexity added by integrating four Funds.
Development of strategic interventions
6. The refinement of strategic intervention proposals has already started, with some lead partners working diligently to identify and commit match funding over a longer timeframe, and defining and quantifying targets and milestones. This work will both contribute to shaping the Partnership Agreement, and run beyond it so that precise details about eligibility and profiling can be worked through on realistic organisational timescales.
7. Lead Partners will not only have to work with SG to do this, but will need to start drawing on the expertise and experience of the likely delivery partners and organisations to help those Lead Partners shape what they put to us; and what will in the end become fully fledged project/programme proposals, complete with delivery chains and timescales, for submission to and negotiation with the Managing Authority.
Detailed Rules and Implementation; and Programme start dates
8. It is important that the details are in place before the programmes commence - it gives lead partners a firm footing on which to start spending and disbursing funding to sub-projects, and avoids differing interpretations of audit rules etc at later stages in the programmes. The start date of the new Structural Funds Operational Programmes will therefore be a balance between wishing to commence funding to support economic recovery as soon as possible; and not wishing to cause any complications through starting before everyone is ready. We expect the Structural Funds programmes to be in a position to launch and start operating in the early half of 2014.
9. Arrangements for Structural Funds implementation, including a new IT system and the development of national rules and guidance have started, but efforts need to intensify alongside the refinement of strategic interventions into actual project applications.
10. There is a significant amount of work to do here, and we will want to involve stakeholders wherever possible. This has already been the case, for example in developing simplified cost options, indicators and the early scope of national rules. As the strategic interventions become clearer, this work is likely to pick up in earnest, through the existing Monitoring and Evaluation Group and of course with lead partners themselves.