Mar 5, 2018

CEF Hosted Regional Expert Dialogue on Costing of Structural Reforms

In February, we hosted and co-facilitated a multi-beneficiary workshop, which has been organized by the European Commission. Its overall objective has been to get a better understanding of how a standardized, user-friendly methodology for ‘costing’ of structural reform policy measures contained in the EU Guidelines on Economic Reform Programmes (ERPs) could look like.

As a consequence of the recent economic and financial crisis, structural reforms and their costs have got more attention in South East Europe (SEE). They are, for instance, subject of EU (potential) candidate countries’ ERPs, which are fiscal programming documents submitted to the European Commission on an annual basis. On February 15-16, the European Commission’s Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument (TAIEX) organized a workshop to discuss the costing of structural reforms in the context of ERPs.

TAIEX supports public administrations with regard to the approximation, application and enforcement of EU legislation as well as facilitating the sharing of EU best practices. Upon initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate General Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) and the CEF, TAIEX convened 42 experts from EU Member States, ERP Coordinators and other local experts from EU (potential) candidate countries to gather recommendations for effective approaches to costing structural reforms as part of ERPs.

The main discussion basis for the workshop has been a methodological note on the EC guidance for costing structural reforms under the ERPs, which has been drafted by the CEF Senior Program Advisor Mojmir Mrak, in close consultation with DG NEAR. The changes proposed were based on a thorough review of ERP preparation experiences in the region; taking the given EC guidance as a starting point; focusing on the costing of structural reforms section only; and aiming to make the guidance applicable across countries and across different line ministries within a country, and as user-friendly as possible.

Participants shared their experiences with costing of structural reforms, appreciated all proposed changes to the EC’s guidance, and shared additional recommendations for further strengthening the ERP preparation process. They also expressed the need to further promote regional peer learning on countries’ good practices and specific challenges, and encouraged the CEF to continue and further intensify efforts to serve those needs, which we initiated upon requests of our constituency in 2008. In 2013, we facilitated the drafting and publishing of SEE country case studies on the topic. At the moment, we are serving those learning needs through our Strengthening Financial Management Functions of Line Ministries project.

At the TAIEX workshop, we presented and discussed our plans for a forthcoming multi-beneficiary action for 2019-2021 that will further deepen our learning program in this area. The action aims to enable EU (potential) candidates in carrying out structural reforms within the envisaged time and available resources, especially those agreed within ERPs. It will train line and finance ministry officials in better costing structural reforms and coordinating such assessments, and will promote their exchange of good practices with their peers in South East Europe, and beyond.