5.6. Efficient cooperation with the Managing Authority
Constant communication with the Managing Authority is essential for the realisation of a successful project. A good practice, in this sense, is to periodically inform the Managing Authority about the progress of the project and to share any doubts or simply ask for confirmation of the correctness of a procedure.
In general, good project results and good cooperation between the beneficiaries and the Managing Authority bring benefits to the whole programme, also in terms of visibility. With this in mind, it is the Managing Authorities themselves that request constant updates from the beneficiaries and offer opportunities to further enhance the projects through specific initiatives.
Where possible, both formal (electronic / platform) and informal channels should be open for communication throughout the project and good relationships should be established early in the project implementation.
The generally recommended simple approach in communications with the MAs (to avoid misunderstandings and miscommunication resulting in project delays) is:
- Inform – let the MA know what your issue or question is. Be brief and concise, suggest solutions. Most often they will need some time to consider it before they reply.
- Discuss – you might get a reply, or you might discuss the points directly. Make sure you note down all the discussion points. We suggest that you enter the dialogue even if the answer seems complete.
- Clarify – get back, confirm the discussed points, ask for clarifications. Do not guess!
- Resolve – work on resolving your issue. Review the points from the discussion.
- Report – report back to the MA, concisely, briefly.
Be proactive and if needed, communicate any doubts before starting the project closure. We are aware that requirements are complex and supported by much information that you need to get acquainted with. The MAs are usually public administration offices. Be ready to respect their office hours and the workload. Plan ahead, be patient and stay focused.
An example of good practice in this sense is the ERDF PR of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region (Italy) 2014-2020, which, from 2018 to 2022, promoted the campaign “Good ideas make the difference”, to make the beneficiaries of funding the protagonists and tell concrete examples of projects. Companies, start-ups, research centres, and local authorities that have received funding from the 2014-2020 ROP ERDF were involved, to tell about the projects and the concrete results for the territory and the community by opening a dialogue between the beneficiaries and the young people, between the beneficiaries and the citizens, and between the beneficiaries and the community.
Effective complaints and appeals
The contract between the Managing Authority and the beneficiary also covers the case of disputes between the parties. The contract encourages the use of mediation procedures before starting a litigation between the two parties. In case of litigation, the jurisdiction is that of the state where the Managing Authority is located.
If the beneficiary wishes to lodge a complaint about the actions of a Managing Authority, it can turn to the European Ombudsman, an independent body working to promote good administration at EU level.
The Ombudsman examines complaints about maladministration by EU institutions and bodies and proactively addresses broader systemic issues.
In the management of European funds, the Ombudsman’s role is not to reassess a project proposal or tender, or to mediate in contractual disputes. The Ombudsman aims to ensure that the EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies manage funding programmes and calls for tenders appropriately.