To ensure that the funds deliver on tackling poverty, it is crucial to enable access of those organisations engaged with the most excluded and provide a real partnership with them trough tailored mechanisms.

Partnership in governance

For the first time, Article 11 of the Structural Funds regulation explicitly recognizes the principle of partnership with civil society organisations, which “shall cover the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of operational programmes”. However, the picture of NGO involvement in the monitoring and planning committees remains particularly uneven across the EU.

Partnership in the delivery phase

Although they are particularly well placed to deliver on structural funds’ social inclusion objectives (in particular in dealing with excluded groups), NGOs are facing a number of obstacles that prevent them living up to their full potential. Specific mechanisms were put in place to meet in some countries to meet their needs:

Global grants – The “global grants” mechanism was introduced in 1989, to ensure that the funds reach those most in need. Global grants involve the managing authority entrusting the management of an operational programme to one or more intermediate bodies (which might be local authorities, regional development bodies, but also non-governmental organisations).  This allows better reaching out to small and local organisations and overcome financial obstacles, as the mechanism often also includes facilities in terms of co and pre-financing.  The added value for social inclusion NGOs can be summarised as follows:
– “easily understood and accessible application systems and procedures,
– ‘light touch’ monitoring and reporting requirements (…) quality, hand-on and practical support provided to applicants and grant recipients” .

Technical assistance – Defined in article 45 of the Structural Funds Regulation, technical assistance is designed to support the smooth running of structural funds’ operation, for instance by covering studies concerning the operation of the Funds, the exchange of information and experience, evaluation and computerized information systems, but also reaching out to final beneficiaries (essential for social inclusion). Member States tend to use it as well to cover internal management, the costs of monitoring committee meetings, publicity materials, posters and signage. Yet there is no good reason why technical assistance cannot be used creatively.

Interesting links

Key EAPN documents

EAPN Presentation on partnerhsip in structural funds (December 2008)

EAPN briefing on facilitating NGOs’ access to structural funds (September 2007)

EAPN Manual on the Management of the EU Structural Funds, a useful tool for NGOs to best influence the management of SF (2006)

Social NGOs’ demands on partnership  (June 2008)

Report of EAPN seminar on social NGOs’ access to structural funds (Porto, September 2007)

The principle of partnership in the new ESF programming – report from group of EQUAL managing authorities (2006)

Partnership in the 2000-2006 period, discussion paper by DG Regio (2005)

Evaluation of EQUAL, Recommendations (2006)

EQUAL Guide for Development Partnerships (2004)

Partnership Development Toolkit (September 2005)

Global Grants
Evaluation of ESF Objective 3 Global Grants Programme, UK Department for Work and Pensions,

Fast forward grants programme, delivered in the London Region

Catalyst programme (East Midland)

Programme run by the Luis Vives Foundation (Spain)

Technical assistance
EAPN Malta, structural funds training programme for NGOs active in social inclusion,

Activities of LVSTC (London Voluntary Sector Training Consortium, member of EAPN UK),