Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Contracting and Life

The contracting of Tourism Cooperation projects is nearly finished and most projects are up and running. On the whole, this process has been interesting and engaging. As one can expect, various problems and issues have risen along the way, but most of them have been solved smoothly and swiftly. This experience can and will be utilized in making future contracting processes more efficient and rapid, which is of utmost importance since the Programming period is getting shorter day by day. My next contract negotiations will begin in the fall and they should progress with better pace than the previous ones. 

Meanwhile, as my first round of contracting is almost over, I thought this would be a good opportunity to look back and reflect on the differences I have so far encountered between the ENPI CBC Programme and other funding programmes. Having moved to Karelia ENPI from a position in which I worked with the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and a few national development Programmes, I can safely say that there are clear differences between them. For example, decision-making processes are very different, as is the contract-based funding system, which does not exist in ERDF or national programmes. The role of the JMA is also very different, not to say anything about my role as programme coordinator. My title in ERDF was the same, but my tasks and duties could not possibly be more different: in ERDF coordinators receive applications as soon as they come in and are in charge of starting the preparation and decision-making processes. In ENPI we receive the applications when they have already been accepted for funding, and my job is to manage the contracting process and negotiate with the applicants. 

ENPI differs from ERDF also in terms of individual projects and their objectives. The bulk of ERDF projects is thematically fragmented, meaning that no two projects usually aim at the same objectives or address the same general problem in any complementary manner. This makes it very difficult to assess their overall impact and it can be said to be a somewhat inefficient approach in general. Karelia ENPI, on the other hand, makes use of thematic calls, which creates a kind of portfolio of projects that operate under the same theme – tourism, for example. While this approach does not necessarily help in assessing the impact of individual projects, it does allow better assessment of the impact of the whole Programme. 

ENPI and ERDF are also governed by different laws and regulations, both on the EC and national levels. This obviously means that the rules are also slightly different. Laws and regulations concerning both Programmes are clear enough but this does not mean that the instructions derived from them are equally simple. The instructions in Karelia ENPI are extremely good and clear compared to ERDF. The Programme Manual and Guidelines to calls are extensive but not off-putting, and they cover more or less every aspect that applicants need to know about applying and implementation. ERDF includes a fairly large number of rules that are not transparent because they exist only in memos that pass between different organizations. As the Karelia ENPI has only one organization that is responsible for the management of the Programme, it is easier to keep the instructions updated and simple.

-         Toni Saranp√§√§
Programme Coordinator

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