Eighteen pioneering projects are empowering citizens to discover, design, monitor and assess how EU cohesion funds are spent in their region. Here, we take a closer look at this initiative promoting government-citizen partnership, and six of its innovative projects.
All initiatives were designed by civil society organisations. The projects were funded by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) under a 2020 call to develop or scale up tools and actions that engage citizens in the implementation of Cohesion Policy.
The successful applicants received up to EUR 25 000 for a one-year project that they could manage alone or with European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) or Cohesion Fund partners. Grant agreements were signed as from October 2021, putting the projects on course to include more citizens in decisions on public spending.
‘Cohesion Policy has always worked for citizens and the goal of this initiative is to make it work with citizens. Involving citizens will make investment more transparent and more effective, especially at a time when communities and territories are struggling with the effects of the coronavirus crisis,’ said Elisa Ferreira, EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms.
Engaging citizens for high-quality investments
Experience shows that when citizens are involved in choosing and implementing initiatives that impact them, such as investments from Cohesion Policy funding, projects are better quality and people feel more connected to them.
The six projects featured here ranged from youth education on Cohesion Policy to citizen monitoring of the reuse of assets confiscated from organised crime. All faced an unexpected challenge – the coronavirus pandemic – but online events and meetings maintained the momentum to strengthen citizen participation in Cohesion Policy.
With the first projects finishing in November and December 2021, at this link there are some of the early results.
One of the selected project has been “Good(s) monitoring, Europe!”, in which has participated some CHANCE members from Spain, Belgium, Romania and Bulgaria.