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Institutional Models of Managing Cohesion Policy - A Proposed Model for Serbia

17.09.2015

The European Union envisaged the total of 351.8 billion euros for the implementation of cohesion policy for the 2014–2020 budgetary period. EU candidate countries are preparing for the implementation of this policy during the negotiation process, Chapter 22 ‒ Regional policy and coordination of structural instruments. One of the key elements of negotiations in this chapter is the institutional framework for cohesion policy management.


The Republic of Serbia put much effort into creating institutional structure which will enable efficient coordination of reforms supported through projects financed from EU funds. As stipulated by the 2007-2013 IPA Implementing Regulation, The Republic of Serbia was obliged to establish appropriate institutions which would manage the EU funds through the Decentralised Implementation System (DIS). The Decision of the European Commission from March 2014 transferred the competence for the implementation of the 2013 National Programme for the Republic of Serbia within IPA component I to DIS institutions. However, a year after the accreditation was granted, there are significant delays of the 2013 IPA program contracting. Furthermore, the Republic of Serbia is facing numerous system challenges in using EU pre-accession funds; the most serious challenges are inadequate institutional framework in terms of cohesion policy requirements at the central and local levels, and overlapping competences of bodies that are in charge of tasks of interest to cohesion policy etc.


Experience of the countries which finished the EU membership negotiation process suggest that the selection of the appropriate cohesion policy management model depends on several factors, and the most important ones are legal and institutional frameworks of the country and division of competences between different levels of government. Furthermore, based on the practical experience of countries that became EU members in the fifth enlargement (in 2004 and 2007), it is obvious that the system of managing the post-accession Cohesion Fund and Structural Funds is based on the system of managing pre-accession funds. Depending on the decision on operational programmes, it is also possible to ascertain types of models of the institutional framework for managing European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI), i.e.: sector or territorial; centralised or decentralised; concentrated or deconcentrated; a combination of these models. Apart from the institutional models, an important question that should be taken into account in the process of establishing the institutional framework is the decision on the type of the administrative system, which can be parallel, integrated, or a combination of these two models (harmonized). The model and the type of the administrative system will affect the administrative costs.


It is very important to define the model of cohesion policy management and to start the process of making institutional framework as soon as possible, due to the amount of work, administrative procedures for the establishment of ESI structures and the time necessary for putting them into operation. The purpose of this analysis is to ascertain the principles and the optimal model of the institutional framework for managing ESI Funds that would be applicable in the Republic of Serbia. This analysis does not define the current institutions which will form the managing structure of ESI Funds. The authors think that the best possible model of managing ESI Funds in the Republic of Serbia immediately after its accession to the EU in financial perspective would be the following: sector, centralised, concentrated and mixed.

 

Although the integral model would be the ideal solution, unfortunately, it is unrealistic to expect that the entire public policies and budget funds planning and implementation system could immediately be adapted to the requirements of cohesion policy. For that reason, it would be realistic to aim at a mixed system which would be applied in the first years of Serbian EU membership. The Republic of Serbia should have a coordinating body, i.e. a particular institution which would coordinate the establishment of a system for managing ESI and would be in charge of other tasks that fall under the competence of the coordinating body. Managing authorities should be established within ministries, while institutions specialized in project management in certain areas would act as intermediary bodies.

 

After the first stage of the system's functioning and overcoming initial problems in the financial perspective that would follow after the financial perspective in which Serbia will become an EU member, the proposed model of managing ESI Funds in the Republic of Serbia could be sector, centralised, deconcentrated and integrated.

 

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