New Predefined Norwegian Project
Working closely with the Ministry of Investment and Development (today: Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy) as the Local Development Programme operator, in May of 2019 the Association began delivering a predefined project based on the EEA Financial Mechanism and Norwegian Financial Mechanism (so-called “EEA and Norway Grants”) 2014-2020, the largest training and advisory project addressing local governments in Poland.
Main Component – Advisory Assistance for Cities and Towns
As part of wide-ranging efforts of the Ministry of Investment and Development (today: Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy) – providing support to medium-sized and small cities and towns suffering losses to traditional social and economic functionalities – the role of the Association is that of providing advisory assistance to cities and towns applying for grants to be used for purposes of integrated development programmes allowing them to exit the stagnation vortex. It was assumed that a competition organised by the Ministry of Investment and Development in 2019 and 2020 would allow approximately 15 cities to secure approximately EUR 7 million each for a well-designed set of local investments and soft projects to support local development. Funds to support the development of Polish cities and towns were sourced in EEA and Norway grants for the years 2014-2020 (8%) and the state budget (15%).
While the Association of Polish Cities does not participate in the process of selection of beneficiaries, it provides advisory assistance as part of the project to 54 candidate cities who had successfully passed the first qualifying stage of the competition organised by the Ministry of Investment and Development (213 cities and towns out of 255 potential beneficiaries took part; results were announced in December 2019), and are now working to draft applications and integrated development plans. Advisors employed by the Association of Polish Cities staff shall support cities and towns – beneficiaries of ministerial grants – at the successive project delivery stage. The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS), a long-term partner of the Association of Polish Cities, will support the project delivery process through collaboration and experience exchange with Norwegian/Icelandic cities and towns. We will share our experience of implementing integrated development plans with other cities and towns.
Cities and towns participating in the predefined project will have funds made available to them (EUR 102 million), and thus considerably improve their capacity for effective programming and efficient local development policy implementation. In consequence, they will be able to take full advantage of the public intervention potential offered by the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy.
OECD Component – “Public Governance Review at the Local Authority Level”
Regardless of regular activities to monitor the situation of individual countries with the use of a pre-set methodology, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) holds public governance reviews, most usually on a national scale, including sector-based appraisals.
In the year 2019, the OECD completed the following assignments, working to a pre-set schedule in collaboration with the Association of Polish Cities and the Ministry of Investment and Development:
• Methodological hypotheses were drafted, including a questionnaire (OECD, Association of Polish Cities, Ministry of Investment and Development),
• In the fourth quarter, several hundred persons participated in consultations related to the content of the questionnaire attended by representatives of local and regional governments, ministerial agencies and experts.
On the first day of the 2nd Urban Policy Congress (Kielce, 14-16 November 2019), the Association and OECD invited participants to join the “Optimising Local Development Governance – Status Quo and Future Perspectives” panel with a focus on presenting the past experience of Polish cities and towns in the area of local governance improvement. An OECD representative discussed preparations for a review of the status quo of local development governance at the Polish local government level, and OECD guidelines in the urban policy area.
Component: Establishing and Developing Polish-Norwegian Bilateral Co-operation
Working together with the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS), we organised three study visits (to Skien, Bergen, Oslo and Nittedal) in 2019 for urban advisors responsible for assisting 54 cities and towns in the process of application drafting.