Territorial administration of European funds for the next decade

Only a dedicated administration endowed with autonomy and territorial systemic rationality can ensure that the transversal and instrumental agendas of the ecological and digital transition positively converge

Now that the national and European financial envelope for the next decade is being discussed in several instances, my proposal elects territorial administration as one of the fundamental pillars of a good policy of recovery, resilience and cohesion.

My proposal in 10 points, schematically, is as follows:

1) Create the Ministry of Planning and Territorial Administration, replacing the planning and cohesion ministries, and an independent monitoring and monitoring structure,

2) Formalize a “delegation of powers contract” from the central and local administration to the sub-regional capitals of the CIMs under the framework law no. 50/2018 and in accordance with the guidelines for the “regional operational programmes”,

3) Form a Regional Executive Council chaired by the president of the CCDR and hold monthly meetings of this body,

4) Materialize a new architecture of regional services based on a digitally based "territorial analytical platform" based at the CCDR,

5) Form a Regional Coordination Council for cooperation between CIM,

6) Create in each NUTS II an “school of arts and technologies” with the mission of supporting the digital transformation of society and promoting the digital literacy of citizens,

7) Appoint a dedicated mission or administration structure in each CIM,

8) Carry out a Territorial Development Contract with each CIM with a view to complying with the framework law of transfer of competences,

9) Implement a cross-border cooperation program for the Euroregions and Eurocities on the Iberian façade,

10) Implement a level of "CIM grants" in compliance with Decree-Law No. 102/2018 of 29 November and within the framework of the respective regional operational program.

The unity and consistency of this 10-point proposal lies in the systemic rationality of the next regional operational programme. I remind you that it must guarantee coherence, depth and density to four key interventions for the next decade, namely:

– PT 2020 that will run until 2023,

– The Resilience and Recovery Program that will run until 2026,

– PT 2027 that will run until 2030,

– The European Horizon 2030 Programs to which we can compete.

In addition to these funds, of course, the national funds entered in the national budgets, as well as all the private investment.

Given the different agendas, calendars, eligibility, technical requirements for applying for each program, we can imagine how rationality and systemic governability are fundamental to ensure coherence to the entire territorial policy and administration system. The NUTS II level and the regional operational program are at the heart of this entire exercise.


Framework law No. 50/2018 of August 16 and DL No. 102/2018 of November 29

The country has very recently constituted 23 inter-municipal communities (CIM), most of them coinciding with NUTS III (NUTS II sub-regions).

It is a very relevant level of programming, planning and policy implementation to reconsider the entire system of integrated development in the interior.

We know that the country has a polytechnic institute or a university in practically every district capital, whose areas of influence and action comprise the CIM and that these various institutions urgently need to refresh and renew their mission and gain a supplement of legitimacy at a time. history of great demand for the country.

In the same territorial scope, the country has business associations, industrial parks and business groups that urgently need to prove their lives, to recapitalize and demonstrate that they are not mere business simulacra, but true business projects.

However, it is in the triangulation between these three entities – the intermunicipal communities, the polytechnic institutes and universities and the business associations – that the secret for the success of the next programming period of European funds 2020-2030 lies.

The "regional operational program" must be the headquarters for receiving these funds, but also be at the origin of a development contract for the CIM in compliance with the provisions of framework law No. 50/2018 of August 16 and the DL nº 102/2018 of November 29, if we wish, a greenway for business cooperation, grouping, mergers and extension aimed at business development in the interior of the country, within the framework of what I have here called “CIM grants”.

In the same development contract, the three promoters would be empowered to present a "proposal for reform of the intermunicipal public administration" that considers not only a new "charter of intermunicipal common goods", but also the possibility of forming an "autarchy 2nd grade” to successfully complete the integrated development projects.


Take advantage of the dual transition, green and digital

Finally, and in terms of ecological and digital transition, the novelty would be the creation of a “NUTS II territorial analytical platform” which, in each CCDR, would coordinate the region's collaborative platforms in different areas of activity.

In fact, in full digital society, in the time of technological hubs, start-ups, apps and coworking spaces, we are obliged to give concrete evidence of this new territorial collective intelligence in inter-municipal communities of common services, for example, in management transport services, health services, education services, employment services, training and social employment market, circular economy and environmental services, energy network management, collective brand management, institutional food contracts, regional microcredit networks and crowdfunding, management of cross-border cooperation spaces, always in a logic of communion and sharing of common interests with civil society.

Euro-cities, for example, could be an excellent testing ground for developing these initiatives, but also natural parks and other landscape units.

In this regard, I recall the government's proposal for the resilience and recovery program and the three pillars on which it is organized: resilience, climate transition and digital transition. Each of these pillars is subdivided into several lines of work, programs and these into many policy measures.

I insist once more. Given the enormous diversity of these policy lines, programs and measures and the various speeds of candidacy and implementation of each one, only a dedicated administration endowed with autonomy and territorial systemic rationality can ensure that the transversal and instrumental agendas of the ecological and digital transition converge positively and guarantee the resilience of the first pillar where the various social vulnerabilities, the productive potential of our companies and the cohesion of territories are at stake.


Final grade

In summary, we need a territorial administration with a minimum of autonomy at regional and sub-regional levels – NUTS II and CIM – and a regional program that can include some measures that I consider essential, such as:

1. Digital broadband infrastructure (4G+5G) for the entire territory,

2. Digital Literacy and Empowerment, a “Regional School of Arts and Technologies”,

3. A program to regenerate the region's natural capital,

4. An active aging program and outpatient services,

5. A program for smart and creative cities,

6. A program for network efficiency (health, energy, water, mobility),

7. A program for the digital modernization of regional economic sectors,

8. A vocational school for training companies and entrepreneurs,

9. The creation of the regional hub for digital innovation,

10. A regional science, technology and innovation network.

Now that the Resilience and Recovery Program (PRR) is being prepared and, shortly thereafter, the next framework of community support for 2030, perhaps now is the time to innovate in territorial and regional administration, as suggested by the framework law. No. 50/2018 of August 16 and DL No. 102/2018 of November 29.