With almost a year to go before the end of the Structural Funds’ programming period, where are we at with the use of these funds? Is it still possible to benefit from an ERDF or ESF grant in 2020?
A brief reminder of the situation
The European funds dedicated to France (i.e. the ERDF, ESF, EJI, EAFRD and EMFF) are voted for 7 years, between 2014-2020 for the current period. The advancement of their consumption is based on two concepts: programming and certification of sums. Programming indicates the amounts provisioned for approved projects. This can be done until the end of 2020 in theory (according to the dates of the last planned committees). On the other hand, certification (i.e. the payment of funds to the beneficiaries involved after validation of the implementation reports) must take place at the latest by the end of 2023.
The €27.5 billion envelope allocated to France for the 4 funds over this period, was programmed at a rate of 68.7% (latest data from September 2019) equivalent to €18.9 billion over 6 years. The certification rate varies according to the funds, with for example 31% for the ESF, 47% for the EJI and 25% for the ERDF.
So is there really an underconsumption?
Officials’ speeches are not clear on the subject. While, in the Senate’s report “On the chronic under-utilisation of European funds in France”, the rapporteur of the fact-finding mission and senator for Seine-et-Marne, Colette Mélot, stated that “There is no real under-consumption because France fits in the average of the EU Member States”, more recently, Amélie de Montchalin, State Secretary for European Affairs, noted that “these European programmes are largely under-exploited“.
According to these facts, will one year be enough to program the remaining 30% of the envelope allocated to France? Around €8.5 billion of aid is still available (including more than €3 billion for the ERDF, €1 billion for the ESF and €3.8 billion for the EAFRD; see September 2019 data), will there be enough eligible and submitted projects to qualify?
Achieving complete programming by the end of 2020 depends on many parameters, including the ability of the managing authorities to speed up the publication of calls for projects, to ensure all instructions, service checks and the preparation of the new programming at the same time.
But above all, benefiting from one of these funds depends essentially on the emergence of quality projects within the open themes and the teams that support them.
Valérie Buisine – Associate Director – EFSI Expert