PERCEIVE Workshop in the Romanian Sud Est region: high awareness of Cohesion Policy and trust in the EU

20/09/2018 | Romanian Academy – Institute of Agricultural Economics | Workshop | WP1, WP2, WP3, WP7

PERCEIVE Workshop in the Romanian Sud Est region: high awareness of Cohesion Policy and trust in the EU

PERCEIVE workshop in Romania was organized in Brăila (Sud Est region) with the participation of regional stakeholders representing regional Local Managing Authorities, public an private beneficiaries of OPs, chamber of commerce, consultancies and regional universities. Read further to find out the results.


Cohesion Policy Governance: difficulties in the current programming period

The presented analysis on Cohesion Policy governance was appreciated by the participants in the Sud Est Region Workshop as representative. The first point signalled out by participants targeted the comparison between the current and previous programming periods. The attendees acknowledged that the transposition of the Cohesion Policy objectives into concrete regional programmes was much easier in the previous programming period than in the current one. While in the past financial framework the management authority at the national level opened the programmes in the second year of implementation, in the current phase the operational programmes were opened with great delay, only in the year 2017. This resulted in a great setback in the absorption of cohesion funds.

The participants highlighted that now the procedures are much more complex and the mechanisms to simplify them are difficult to create. Like in the previous programming period, an acceleration of the implementation processes of the operational programmes that require simplification would be needed. Simplification does not depend on the regional agencies, but on the management authorities at the national level. The attendees also pointed out that simplification would imply a greater trust in beneficiaries as these have already had the experience of project implementation in the previous programme and they are responsible for their own actions, which would lead to lighter verification mechanisms.

What do citizens think of Cohesion Policy in the region?

The PERCEIVE survey results were not surprising for the workshop participants. These stated that the awareness degree of EU interventions in Romania is high due to the intense promotion of the idea of European Union as a supra-national authority on all media channels, which resulted in a great confidence in the capacity of EU institutions to address regional needs.

The discussion focused on several regional problems emerged from the survey. One of these is the low educational level of the population from the region, which is not considered by citizens as an important regional issue. The attendees in the workshop have a different opinion, pointing out that education is essential in the process of regional economic development. The lack of vocational training is seen as an obstacle to the absorption of European funds.

Citizens’ perception of regional problems is considered as dependent on and a result of the public communication processes, strongly influenced by the low educational level. The participants consider that the hierarchy of the most important regional problems is the result of the excessive mediatization of topics like corruption, poverty and infrastructure, which are considered by Romanians in Sud-Est Region as the most important three issues.

An effective communication

The participants in the workshop argued that the Sud Est Development Agency was one of the pioneers in the communication of Cohesion Policy in Romania by opening direct communication channels with regional actors (meetings with potential beneficiaries, roundtables presenting funding opportunities, leaflets, etc.).

They consider that online communication means are efficient for information to reach regional users, yet their management is difficult due to IT security issues. The LMA communication representative noted that the agency’s Facebook page has been attacked several times or false agency pages have been created with misleading information for users.

Although the new media channels are the main information source for the general public at the region level, the experts and participants in the workshop vehiculated the idea that the information transmitted by these channels is not always true and it does not have the specific accuracy of the official communication channels (websites of management authorities, newspapers, TV, where the information is verified).

Overall, the participants from Sud Est region appreciated the cross-cutting analytic approach and the validity of PERCEIVE conclusions, regarding the governance of the Cohesion Policy. These, together with the PERCEIVE survey results, were appreciated by participants as extremely useful for decision-makers and practitioners at all levels (EU, national, regional).

In this context, they were interested in the final utility of PERCEIVE conclusions. Who will benefit from these findings? Will these be transposed into practical actions? How? Our researchers mentioned that the project has, among its objectives, the development of policy recommendations that draw upon research results, which will be discussed and validated in the PERCEIVE Conference in Bucharest from October 25th to October 26th, and then forwarded to policymakers on the elaboration, implementation and communication of Cohesion Policy.

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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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