Community of Practice on Results-based Management for ESF+ convened in Helsinki on 8–9 December 2022
The Community of Practice on Results-based Management for the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) convened at the Scandic Marina Congress Center in Helsinki on 8–9 December 2022. The event was held by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland with the European Commission.
The event had a record attendance: a total of 92 representatives from 26 Member States, including managing and audit authorities, as well as the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (EMPL), Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (REGIO) and their Joint Audit Directorate for Cohesion (DAC).
The key themes of the event included new results-based approaches and simplified cost and financing options, of which examples from different Member States were also presented. In addition, the event presented the reform of project management from the perspectives of the risk-based verification of expenditure, digitalisation and the engagement of various project parties.
Results-based approaches a growing trend in the EU
Simplified cost options are already broadly used in EU Member States. They shift more focus on the results and impact of project activities.
The European Commission’s goal is to significantly expand the use of various output- and results-based approaches and ensure that simplified cost and financing options are only used to compensate for project costs in the future.
Currently, the unit cost option is the most commonly used simplified cost option in EU Member States, and the payment of support is generally based on the project output (output-based approach). In Finland’s EU regional and structural policy programme, the unit cost option applies to salary costs and also to travel expenses in certain projects. The output-based lump-sum compensation option is also used in Finland.
Approaches based on project results, including the number of people employed, degrees or vocational qualifications, are a growing trend in the EU. Several Member States have also developed new types of financing options, in which the European Commission pays its contribution to the Member State in accordance with predefined intermediate deliverables and results achieved in the programme.
Themes raised by Finland: digitalisation, addressing various project parties, social inclusion – and Christmas
Regarding Finland, Kaisa Saarinen (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland) presented the EURA 2021 system and especially the new mobile-friendly website related to it. The website will be opened later to collect information about participants in ESF+ and JTF projects, and its aim is to lighten the process of collecting information about project participants using a new digital service. The mobile-friendly website has been designed so that project participants can easily use it not only on a computer but also on mobile devices. The new innovative solution attracted significant interest among the representatives of other Member States.
Tiina Arpola (Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment [ELY] for South Savo) talked about the ELY Centre’s experiences in engaging various project parties, including associations and other smaller organisations. In addition, Arpola presented the ELY Centre’s experiences in using the lump sum compensation option in ESF projects that promote inclusion. Representatives of other Member States and the European Commission showed significant interest in the ELY Centre’s activities to engage new project parties and its various ways of using the lump sum compensation option. Finland’s new standardised lump sum compensation option also attracted interest.
The international visitors enjoyed the Christmas weather and Helsinki atmosphere. Santa Claus also popped in to the delight of the participants.
Text: Jenni Hyvärinen
Photos: Päivi Poikola