The Kallas Report gives the first recommendations on which principles the future European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) could be based on for the post-2020 period. Recommendations on implementation regarding single audits and more efficient management are particularly welcome. The simplification and streamlining trends presented in the Report are of utmost importance.
Within its mandate, the Kallas Report focuses on improving the general principles of ESI Funds to ensure simplification; it does not look at future programming or contents. Based on this report’s well-rounded conclusions, it is now time to step-up our thinking on the new EU actions needed to further align EU R&I and Regional Development policies in the next EU financial period.
With the current post-Brexit political context, the EU is entering in a challenging phase regarding its future budget; focus on spending impact is of high and proper concern. This gives the opportunity to DG REGIO and DG R&I to further develop new programming for the next period aiming at real complementarities around tangible investments needed for innovation infrastructures (so-called demonstrators, test-beds, technology platforms, innovation hubs, pilots, open pilot lines) as well as intangible investments linked to these assets.
The setting up of dedicated tools for innovation infrastructures is crucial, that complement both R&I Framework and ESIF Programmes, with excellence and territorial cooperation as joint focus. There is a real need to establish a pan European network of innovation infrastructures aiming at improving awareness and allowing an easy access cross-borders/cross-regions to industries, especially SMEs. This will involve:
- Mapping of existing innovation infrastructures (for e.g. within EU RTOs as already initiated in the KETs context).
- Identifying most pressing technologies.
- Defining needs for pilot plants.
Planning on the European scale to build critical mass should be the role of R&I Framework Programme, while Structural Funds could further align and leverage the necessary investments to maintain and develop these infrastructures at regional level.
The Kallas Report is a very welcome first step to ensure that the funding of potential beneficiaries can be simplified in the next financial period. EARTO hopes for continued discussions around a new way of developing the links between EU R&I and Regional policies.