Policy News


March I 2016

Eurostat publishes new regional GDP data
The EU's statistical office, Eurostat, has published their latest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data for 2014. Whilst the overall trend for the East of England is positive, with all three statistical areas seeing an improvement in their GDP, the greater Essex area continues to lag behind the rest of the region.  

The 2014 data is significant for local areas as it will be used by the European Commission when it undertakes its technical adjustment in allocations. We expect this to take place sometime after Easter following clarification from the Commission's legal services.

The area with the highest GDP per capita is 'Inner London - West' at 539, followed a long way behind by Luxembourg (266) and the Brussels Capital Region (207). The poorest regions in mainland Europe are all in Bulgaria with Severozapaden at 30% of EU GDP, followed by Yuzhen tsentralen (32) and Severen tsentralen (34).

High-level group on simplification publishes first results
The first set of conclusions and recommendations of the High-Level Group monitoring simplification for beneficiaries of the ESI Funds has been sent to the European Commission and is now available in the online platform.

Here you can find the conclusions, recommendations and all the PowerPoint presentations of the group on the first two topics addressed: e-Governance and Simplified Cost Options.

Presentations include those by Terri Thomas and Rachel Stephens both from the Welsh Assembly Government on e-Governance and simplification experiences. Another useful presentation was given by Maeve Hamilton from the Northern Irish Managing Authority.

Recommendations on e-Governance includes:

  • Better dissemination of best practice between Member States;
  • Establishing a knowledge sharing portal;
  • Making IT a core part of ESIF management;
  • Consideration of widening the possibility to use technical assistance to consider e-Governance implementation.

Recommendation on simplified cost options (SCOs) includes:

  • Sharing experience and best practice more widely;
  • Clear, transparent and standard approach descriptions on how SCOs should be documented, monitored, archived and audited;
  • More support to the Interact Programme;
  • Provide more off the shelf SCOs;
  • Remove existing SCO restrictions;
  • Allow lump sums above €100,000.
European Parliament publishes study on role of EIB in cohesion policy
The study presented to MEPs on the Regional Development Committee was commissioned by the European Parliament and carried out by the European Policies Research Centre (University of Strathclyde). Professor John Bachtler and Dr. Arno van der Zwet presented their work on how Cohesion Policy objectives have been delivered through measures that involved the European Investment Bank.

The study found that the role of the European Investment Bank in Cohesion Policy increased significantly in the 2007-13 programme period and continues to increase in the 2014-20 period. The experts addressed the effectiveness as well as the accountability, transparency and visibility of the EIB activities in Cohesion Policy. Relationships between EU institutions and the EIB and future expectations of the role of the EIB in Cohesion Policy were also discussed.

Key recommendations included the need to establish more systematic scrutiny of the role of the EIB in Cohesion Policy by MEPs and the need to foster ongoing dialogue between the European Parliament and EIB. MEPs highlighted the importance of the study, enquired about the relatively low uptake of the so called SME initiative in Member States, and questioned the perceived tendency of favouring financial instruments over grants.

The recommendations were welcomed by MEPs, especially with respect to the need to step up the debate in the European Parliament on EIB and financial instruments related issues.

More information about the study is available from .

East of England responds to new draft EU Urban Agenda
The East of England European Partnership has responded to an informal UK government consultation on a new draft of the EU's Urban Agenda being proposed by the Dutch EU Presidency.

Whilst welcoming many changes, including the widening of the agenda to all urban areas not just cities, we are disappointed that the new draft Pact has removed all explicit references to small and medium sized urban areas. We are urging UK government and our other European colleagues to have this reference reinstated.

You can read our full submission here.

February II 2016

New guidelines on combining European Structural and Investment Funds with the EFSI
The European Commission, in partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB), has published a new guidance note on how best to combine structural funds and the new European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI). 

The guidelines are designed to help local authorities and project promoters make full use of the opportunities of combining the EFSI and ESI Funds. These two instruments have been designed in a different but complementary way in terms of rationale, design, and legislative framework.

Moving Beyond GDP: New Regional Social Progress Index? Comments welcome
The European Commission has published a draft version of the regional Social Progress Index which aims to measure the social progress for 272 European regions as a complement to traditional measures of economic progress. The index scores absolute performance on a 0-100 scale for each of the 50 indicators included to measure the Index components. It also presents strengths and weaknesses relative to regions of similar economic performance.

All twelve thematic components in the index show significant variations within and between EU Member States on topics including, among others, access to health care, quality and affordability of housing, personal safety, access to higher education, and environmental pollution. It follows the overall framework of the global Social Progress Index, customised for the EU using indicators primarily drawn from Eurostat data. 

This draft index is shared by the Commission to help collect feedback from stakeholders on the topics, the indicators included and the way these indicators are combined into a single final score for each region. 

Please note that this index is not created for the purpose of funding allocation and does not bind the European Commission.

Please send comments and suggestions to: [email protected] A revised version of the regional Social Progress Index will be released in October 2016 in time for the European Week of Regions and Cities.

More information:

  • Interactive maps of the Social Progress Index for the EU 
  • Social Progress Index scorecards for each region in the EU 
  • Learn more about the methodology behind the Social Progress Index for the EU 

North West Europe Programme – Next call and Project Ideas Laboratory
The next call under the Interreg North West Europe programme will open on 18 April and close on 27 May. To help potential project promoters, a Project Ideas Laboratory will take place in Frankfurt (Germany) on 7 April. The event is an opportunity to get feedback from the secretariat on what has been successful or not under the last calls, as well as to meet new project partners.

URBACT – Implementation Networks Call Launch
The URBACT Programme expects to launch a new call for the creation of Implementation Networks on 23 March. These new networks aim to support cities with the delivery of integrated urban strategies and action plans. Cities taking part in an Implementation Network will not only share experiences and good practices but will also have the opportunity to work together on improving their strategies and action plans and generate new ideas to address challenges related to sustainable urban development.

A launch event will take place in Brussels on 23 March 2016 from 03.00 pm to 06.30 pm, at the Conference Centre Albert Borschette. 

February I 2016

Revised ERDF and ESF sterling valuations published
DCLG has published revised sterling valuations for ERDF and ESF notional allocations in each LEP area. Member State ESIF allocations and the Operational Programmes of each fund are expressed in euros. ESIF notional allocations to each LEP area are therefore also expressed in euros. However, given fluctuations in the exchange rate a revaluation of the notional allocations needs to take place on a periodic basis. 

The figures below are consolidated updated figures for each LEP area, which is the sum of the combined ERDF and ESF notional allocation:


RegioStars Awards 2016 launched!

The European Commission has launched the application process for the 2016 RegioStars Awards.

The objective of RegioStars is to identify good practice in regional development and to highlight original and innovative projects which could be inspiring to other regions and project managers. 

There are five RegioStars Award categories for 2016:


  • Cat. 1 Smart Growth: Emerging opportunities in the global economy
  • Cat. 2 Sustainable Growth: Circular Economy
  • Cat. 3 Inclusive Growth: Integrated living - building inclusive and non-segregated communities
  • Cat. 4 CityStar: Innovative solutions for sustainable urban development
  • Cat. 5 Effective management: Making a difference by managing differently 

After being selected by an independent jury, representatives from the finalist projects will be invited to attend the Award Ceremony and receive a certificate and a medal. They will also be included in a brochure, published by the European Commission, as well as in the online database of best practices on the Inforegio website. 

This year's RegioStars award ceremony will take place on Tuesday 11 October, during the 2016 European Week of Regions and Cities. 

The winners in each category will receive a RegioStars trophy and a certificate presented by European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Cretu, and the President of the RegioStars jury. 

For each winner a short video is also produced which will be published online followed by a promotional campaign on social media. 

Applications can be sent by the regional or local Managing Authority, or by the project manager, but with the endorsement of the responsible Managing Authority. Applications must be made via the online platform (as from 15 February).

Application forms and further guidance are available on the Commission website.

Deadline for applications: 15 April 2016.