The legislative package for the 2014-2020 programme period introduced two instruments to make Cohesion spending more results oriented: ex-ante conditionalities and the performance reserve. While the former specifies certain conditions that must be fulfilled before the programme implementation, the latter requires most ESIF programmes to set aside 6 % of the total funding to each Member State which will be definitively allocated subject to the outcome of a performance review in 2019. In this report we examined whether these two instruments were effectively used to incentivise better Cohesion spending by Member States.
We found that the ex-ante conditionalities provided a consistent framework for assessing the Member States’ readiness to implement EU funds. However, their assessment was a lengthy and time-consuming process and it remains uncertain to what extent they have and will effectively lead to changes on the ground. The maintenance of the ex-ante conditionalities depends on the commitment and ownership by the Member States. We also consider that the performance framework and reserve provide little incentive for a better result orientation of the OPs since they are mostly based on spending and outputs.
Special report No 15/2017: Ex ante conditionalities and performance reserve in Cohesion: innovative but not yet effective instruments