The EESC has found that Partnership is vital for the success of Cohesion policy projects as it:
- greatly improves the effectiveness of cohesion policy;
- responds to the needs of the local actors;
- strengthens citizen participation;
- creates a visible link between the EU and civil society;
- and thereby creates a win-win for all stakeholders. Nevertheless, it takes two to tango. In other words, if the authorities are unwilling to engage in partnership with organised civil society, the latter will not be in a position to contribute to the success of cohesion policy projects.
In the Opinion, the EESC reaches a number of conclusions and proposes several actions for remedying the problems it has found. At EU Level, Article 11 which defines Partnership in the general Regulation 1083/2006 on the structural funds must be modified for the future. The Opinion contains detailed proposals to this end. The EESC also finds that the role of the Commission in future must be more "hands-on". National attitudes must be changed too, and examples of good practice disseminated. Finally, programmes must be put in place to promote partnership.
The main recommendations contained in the Opinion are to:
- lay down minimum requirements for partnership
- develop a European Code of good practice
- Build capacity with the partners
- have integrated and targeted programmes; bring back Community initiatives and extend the use of global grants
- SIMPLIFY procedures and payments
Set up a network of regions of excellence for the dissemination of best practice.