“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together”. In addition to his masterpieces, Van Gogh left us a vast legacy of quotes on inspiration and dreams, as well as on difficulties and mistakes. And on how to devote heart and soul to accomplish a creative process. TESIM is putting together many ‘small things’ in view of its extension beyond April 2019. No ears at risk, though.
With the negotiation stages for the second phase of TESIM implementation well underway, time has come to put together all the different elements of our portfolio of services for the years to come. Many things have changed since our kick off in October 2015 and we need to take them into account, ensuring a continuous support to the implementation and management of ENI CBC programmes, but with a twist. New approaches, new tools, new methodologies. Renewed inspirations for an updated creative process.
By definition, TESIM is a demand-driven project, and the majority of the things that we do are meant to answer the needs of our stakeholders. In order to collect them, during the month of November 2018 we carried out our yearly assessment with programme bodies and national authorities, involving a total of 29 interviews. On top of this, 59 responses were received to the on-line survey launched on seven specific topics, representing a response rate of over 40%. Which are the main outcomes of the exercise?
The importance of the peer-to-peer exchanges during the networking meetings and events dedicated to specific programme implementation-related topics has been stressed both in the interviews as well as in the on-line surveys. Another request in this direction is that of enabling exchanges among the programmes not only during the networking meetings, but also in-between them, using co-working platforms, like Slack, for this purpose.
Several programmes also requested training for new staff or staff that faces new challenges. In many interviews programme representatives stressed the importance of having available written guidance. In this specific field, the request has shifted from “what to do?” to “what solutions are other programmes using?” – there are more requests for the comparison of processes implemented by the programmes, analysis of the practices and identification of the best solutions. The practice of publishing questions and answers on specific topics is seen as relevant and useful by the programmes, and this practice is to be continued, including new topics (e.g., expenditure verification).
In 2019 the National Authorities of the CBC Partner Countries will concentrate their efforts on finalising the establishment of the structures and procedures for the national management and control systems, and, where necessary, building their capacity. Also the creation of the long-list of auditors to carry out the expenditure verification and the training of the external auditors are on the to-do-list for many countries. National authorities plan to actively participate in the awareness raising and capacity building of their applicants and beneficiaries to ensure successful preparation and implementation of the CBC projects. They also plan to participate in the selection of the projects, as well as monitoring of the implementation of approved projects in their countries. In all these fields, TESIM’s contribution is welcome by the concerned bodies.
TESIM support to the trainings of the beneficiaries and auditors is required as well; case studies for beneficiaries or an overview of the sample check approaches for auditors are examples of the type of services seen as helpful for these target groups.
On top of the activities related to the current period, all programmes and several countries also stressed the importance of starting the negotiations on the development of CBC programmes for the period 2021-2027. In particular, it was stressed that the work on the financing agreements needs to start as soon as possible in order to avoid delays in the programme implementation. Also the requirements for the new period leading to the possible changes in the structures and procedures of the CBC Partner Countries need to be explained to them soon in order to implement all needed preparatory steps.
Building on these foundations, TESIM is currently working in the preparation of the work plan for 2019 and we will soon start mobilising efforts to give adequate answers to these requests.
Even if not stemming directly from the survey, another big small thing that TESIM will certainly address on an on-going basis is the need for an increased visibility of the ENI CBC instrument. In particular, Brussels-based activities and cooperation with the EU Delegations will represent our focus areas of intervention in this field. All this without neglecting the importance of an effective presence on social media and the integration of ENI CBC programmes in already existing EU-wide campaigns.
Now that a critical mass of selected projects exists throughout our community, work can be initiated in order to identify the excellence therein and communicate what cross-border cooperation will potentially bring as change to the regions in fields such as the environment, entrepreneurship and innovation, border infrastructure and people-to-people cooperation. As a matter of fact, TESIM will grant a particular attention during its second phase to the thematic research and capitalisation of results.
It will certainly not be our first service this year, but it is so big that it will undoubtedly affect our calendar of activities for the first quarter of 2019. We are of course referring to the annual conference of ENI CBC programmes, which will take place in early April. This will be accompanied with the organisation of a back-to-back meeting of the Consultation and Coordination Group. Agenda items for both days will include the analysis of where the programmes stand, the lessons learned from the ongoing ROM exercise, as well a discussion about the future programmes post-2020. We have not met all together since November 2017 and these events will be the best occasion to catch up on all the positive developments which have taken place in our community after the good days spent in Tallinn.
Little by little, the pieces of the TESIM puzzle are getting together! A bunch of small things that will hopefully lead to something great. Sure, in order to respond to always-more-specific needs, a good dose of innovation and diversification will be required from us. We are up to the challenge, and we may not always succeed. But as Vincent also said: “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”