Our Workshop in the UK with the Essex region's LMAs: a call for a less top-down approach and more involvement of stakeholders
PERCEIVE workshop with the Essex Local Managing Authorities took place in London in September 2018. Participants had a different story to tell about their region and were surprised about the PERCEIVE survey results. Read more.
Cohesion Policy Governance: an analysis that misses the inclusive approach
The Local Managing Authorities in Essex (United Kingdom) gave our researchers relevant feedbacks to be integrated into the analysis of the region. It was felt that the summary misrepresented the efforts put in to be inclusive of, and involve, external actors. These efforts were in place at a local level, but the imposition of policy from a central directive sometimes meant that this may have been overruled – or directed in a certain way.
It was mentioned that the Essex region also has many of the same instruments and all of the actors involved in the other case study regions. For example, instruments included meetings with relevant local political actors, events, conferences, network meetings and working groups. Furthermore, in the realm of social inclusion, the specific example of the ‘escalator of opportunity’ concept used in the region was cited as good practice.
What do citizens think of Cohesion Policy in the region? What are the communication's criticalities?
The survey's results surprised the participants very much: “Who knew Essex was a hotbed of remainers”. They did not expect that Essex rates EU institutions above national governing institutions. At first glance, this would not seem consistent with the Brexit stance. However, this is somewhat explained by the hostility/protest vote element expressed in the EU referendum. Furthermore, they were not surprised that ‘regional’ institutions are rated lower given the ongoing impact of austerity cuts on public services.
Communication is now organised nationally/centrally and funding for dedicated communications specialist(s) only tend to appear for National-sized projects, smaller projects suffer from communications being tasked to non-professionals. According to participants, successful communication points appear to be the outcomes of a ‘brand management’ program – at current this ‘business marketing’ logic is not being fully applied.
The ‘Essex’ LMA does not have a Facebook account and has no plans to have one because there is no control over the discourse attached to content. The same comments about unregulated content were made around the use of YouTube. With regards to Twitter, it is only recently that central control has been relinquished to allow individuals to send their own tweets. There is a lack of political will (imposed top-down) to emphasise the EU: in some cases, ERDF has been edited-out of press releases.
In summary, participants felt that they had a good understanding of the needs and requirements in their region, but there were aspects of the current EU system that hampered either the delivery or take-up, of these funds. These included: the language, bureaucracy, complexity, large size of contracts and lack of stability. Furthermore, specific to the UK, within the context of ‘Brexit’, there was further uncertainty as to how/if the system would continue to operate.
Are you interested in future updates on our workshops? Go to the dedicated page here.
Are you a Local Managing Authority? Visit the page we created for you here.
This contributes gives highlights on what is the work in progress of PERCEIVE Project research. By the end of the project, in August 2019, policy implementation and communication guidelines will be finalized as recommendations for policy-makers and practitioners.
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