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1.4 RIS3 legal and administrative framework related to ESIF

1.4 RIS3 legal and administrative framework related to ESIF
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Research & Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) are designed, implemented and monitored in the framework of a set of directives, regulations and communications at European Union (EU) level. The EU level acts are transposed or applied into national legal, regulatory and administrative laws, regulations and procedures. This creates a complex legal environment in which the management authorities responsible for ESIF as well as the public-private partnerships involved in RIS3 operate.

The Regulation (EU) 1301/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 is the legal base which defines a ‘smart specialisation strategy’.  ‘Smart specialisation strategy’ means the national or regional innovation strategies which set priorities to build competitive advantage by developing and matching research and innovation own strengths to business needs to address emerging opportunities and market developments in a coherent manner, while avoiding duplication and fragmentation of efforts. A smart specialisation strategy may take the form of, or be included in a national or regional research and innovation (R&I) strategic policy framework. Smart specialisation strategies shall be developed through involving national or regional managing authorities and stakeholders such as universities and other higher education institutions, industry and social partners in an entrepreneurial discovery process.

The core legal acts related to RISS3 are those governing the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), however, other EU level programmes and financial instruments provide complementary or related support to RIS3 and should be considered in the RIS3 policy cycle, as illustrated below

governing the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)

Source: Guide to Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisations (RIS 3). European Commission (2012).

ESIF instruments provide EU Member States with financial assistance to deliver the EU2020 strategy of Smart, Sustainable and inclusive growth, increasing economic activity and employment across the EU. The implementation of ESIF in Member States is set out in the& EU Common Provisions and underpinned by other European regulations.

A national and/or regional RIS3 is an ex-ante conditionality for R&I investments under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the programming period 2014-2020. The ERDF focuses its investments on a limited number of ‘thematic objectives’ (TO) including Innovation and research (TO1); the digital agenda (TOX); support for small and medium-sized enterprises (TOX); and the low-carbon economy (TOX). ERDF resources allocated to these priorities depends on the category of region: in more developed regions, at least 80 % of funds must focus on at least two of these priorities; compared to at least 60% in transition regions; and 50 % in less developed regions. Furthermore, ERDF resources must be channelled specifically towards low-carbon economy projects as follows: more developed regions: 20%; transition regions: 15%; and less developed regions: 12%.

In addition to ERDF, other ESIF instruments, European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), European Investment Bank (EIB), national/regional funding and private investments can be used to implement the RIS3. These include:

European Social Fund (ESF): priorities in the field of employment, e.g. through training and life-long learning, education and social inclusion, and linking to the Youth Employment Initiative

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD): actions strengthening the links between agriculture, food production and forestry, and R&I; development of the knowledge base in rural areas

Cohesion Fund (CF): funds priority Trans-European transport links and key environmental infrastructure projects. This has an indirect impact for RIS3 by improving location and providing opportunities for procurement of innovative solutions.

European Investment Bank (EIB) instruments including the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) (see http://www.eib.org/efsi/what-is-efsi/index.htm)

Information on the legislative basis and secondary (implementing regulation) for other EU Funding instruments is available from the responsible directorate-generals.

In addition to legislation governing the use of the various European funds and instruments, the EU’s State Aid regulations (http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/overview/state_aid_procedures_en.html) provide an overarching framework on how financial support can be provided to enterprises and other organisations in the Member States.

Beyond the financial instruments, there are a set of regulations governing different legal options that impact on governance both at European and national levels. These include notably the legal forms that can be adopted by public-private partnerships, the possibility for public or academic bodies to take stakes in other private or not-for-profit entities, etc.

At European or inter-regional level, partnerships can choose to adopt various legal forms such as

European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG) – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV:l26015

European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) – see http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/policy/cooperation/european-territorial/egtc/ and http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32006R1082

European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) – in the field of research infrastructures partnerships working on European level can adopt this form. See http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32009R0723

At the current time, aside from eur-lex, the main information source on ESIF related regulation is the InfoRegio site of DG REGIO of the European Commission (http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/information/legislation/regulations/).  DG REGIO has launched a wiki tool ‘regiowiki’ so that in addition to being able to download the full text of the legislation on InfoRegio, it is now possible to alternatively log on to a specific application, which enables users to navigate through the primary legislation, secondary legislation, and guidance notes in a dynamic way. This new facility is available for English text only.

Regio Wiki

The S3 Platform also has a knowledge repository but this mainly is a search tool function for publications developed by the S3 Platform itself. http://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/knowledge-repository

Various commercial sites also exist that track EU legislation often structuring the information by theme. An example is http://global.practicallaw.com/country/eu-law from ThomsonReuters.

Description of the method

This method will provide users with access to up to up to date information on legislative and related texts governing the smart specialisation design, implementation and evaluation process. The tool will provide a means of identifying, tracking and mapping (links between various legal acts, etc.) the legislation or related policy texts that provide a framework for the implementation of projects using the ESIF funds.  This includes ERDF regulations and EU processes of selecting and funding projects in the framework of national / regional Operational Programmes (OPs).

Various standard tools could be used to help users access and analyse the most relevant up to date legal texts. The use of a wiki model (OnlineS3wiki) integrated with a RSS tool https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS could be one option. Other possible tools could be include the use of webscraping (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_scraping) methods to compile information on both European and national primary and secondary (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_and_secondary_legislation legislative texts.

The possibility of developing visualisations that enable users to explore how one legislative act is linked to others (e.g. a primary legislative act and all related secondary legislation or synergies/linkages between primary legislative acts) should also be explored.

Usability and impact

The tool will enhance the understanding of RIS3 partnerships, and thereby improve governance, of the broad framework of EU legal acts, policy, decision making and where relevant case law (e.g. State Aid decisions). The impact is likely to arise from improving the timely adaptation of RIS3 to on-going legislative developments and by providing a simple, transparent, one-stop access for S3 stakeholders to all relevant legislation.

Required data

The data is of a text-based nature and relates to the collection of legislative, regulatory and administrative acts that govern the ESIF programming period, related rules concerning EIB/EIF funding, Horizon 2020, State Aid regulations

The list of baseline legislation (non-exhaustive list at this stage) includes:

ESIF legislation – see compilation at http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/information/legislation/regulations/

The EFSI regulation : http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3AOJ.L_.2015.169.01.0001.01.ENG

State Aid legislation: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/regional_aid/regional_aid.html (regional aid) and http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=OJ:C:2014:198:TOC (R&D and innovation aid).

Relevant data sources

The eur-lex database compiles all European legislative texts: http://eur-lex.europa.eu including those related to Structural Funds and other funding instruments

The European Council website has a database of legislative acts under ‘codecision’ procedure: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/documents-publications/ordinary-legislative-procedure/

The WikiRegio site covers both primary and secondary legislation relevant for ESIF: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/esiflegislation/

The publication on synergies between ESIF and other funds is also a useful basis for developing this method: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/wikiguidance/gn0098_guide_on_synergies_en.pdf

Implementation roadmap

To develop and elaborate this method and a relevant tool or set of tools, the following steps will be required

1. Scope further the existing public and commercial legislative databases and examine the structure and content of these websites and the extent to which they can serve as sources for an S3 legislative mapping and analysis tool

2. Interview/consult with users (e.g. management authorities, RIS3 managers, etc.) in selected member states to further understand the need for and the type of information required related to the legislative framework for RIS3

3. Examine the comparative advantages of developing a new tool or adding in material and legislative data/information to existing sites.