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Dealing with Unhappy Customers: How Do Member States Handle Complaints under the ESI Funds?

Laura Polverari, Rona Michie
Keywords: ESI Funds, complaints, complaints handling systems, implementation, cohesion policy

The 2014-20 European Structural and Investment Funds regulations include provisions which strengthen the legal framework for examining and handling complaints under the ESI Funds. For the first time, the regulations require EU Member States to provide effective arrangements for examining complaints under their ESI Fund programmes (in Article 74(3) of the Common Provisions Regulation). However, provisions on how such complaints should be dealt with remain vague. This article examines some of the elements such complaints handling systems should include, proposes an analytical framework to assess the effectiveness of such systems, and asks whether imposing more stringent requirements on Member State authorities in this area could further exacerbate the already contested administrative cost of implementing Cohesion policy.

Dr Laura Polverari and Rona Michie are Senior Research Fellows at the European Policies Research Centre, University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (UK). This article is based on a tender prepared for DG Regio of the European Commission. Thanks to Hartmut Aden, John Bachtler, Christopher Bovis and Fiona Wishlade for comments to earlier drafts of the research from which this article draws. Thanks are also due to EPRC researchers who contributed case study evidence, namely: Stefan Kah (Austria and Slovenia); Martin Ferry (Poland); and Viktoriya Dozhdeva (Portugal). The views expressed in this article are personal.


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