The Commission has adopted a new Communication on Enhancing the European Administrative Space[*1] (ComPAct), which proposes concrete actions to help public administrations meet the needs of people and businesses across Europe. ComPAct is the Commission’s first ever comprehensive set of actions to support the modernisation of national administrations and to strengthen their cross-country collaboration so that they can address common challenges together. Efficient national, regional and local public administrations are critical to deliver EU and national priorities on the ground, to implement policies and reforms that benefit people and businesses alike, and to channel strategic investments towards the green and digital transitions. They are an important enabler for greater competitiveness across the EU. Better implementation of EU and national policies and more effective administrative performance will address the expectations of Europeans for less bureaucracy and more transparency, and could save EU people and businesses billions of euros per year.
The Communication also recognises the pressures faced by public administrations caused by external shocks, difficulties to recruit and attract talent, and to build expertise on increasingly complex topics, such as the green and digital transitions. The delivery of such a challenging policy agenda relies on resilient and adaptable public administrations at all levels in the Member States.
Key actions proposed
In response to calls by Member States, the European Parliament, and the Committee of the Regions, to foster cooperation and policy dialogue, and to improve the capacity and the quality of public administrations at national, regional and local levels, the Commission proposes 25 actions to:
*Foster cooperation amongst public administrations to prepare for current and future challenges (Pillar 1 – The Public Administration Skills Agenda). For example, the Public Administration Cooperation Exchange (PACE) enables the mobility of European civil servants across the Member States to share knowledge and good practices.
*Strengthen the capacity of public administrations for their digital transformation (Pillar 2 – Capacity for Europe’s Digital Decade). For example, the ComPAct will increase the readiness of public administrations to integrate AI technologies into their operations (e.g. audit, public procurement) in a safe and trustworthy way.
*Strengthen the capacity of public administrations to drive the green transformation and build resilience (Pillar 3 – Capacity to lead the green transition). For example, the ComPAct will support public administrations in assessing and reducing their organisational carbon footprint.
Additionally, ComPAct puts forward a common set of overarching principles[*2] for high-performing public administrations.
The Commission will implement the actions primarily through the Technical Support Instrument (TSI) and other available EU funding, such as the Digital Europe Programme, and will work together with all Member States and stakeholders to ensure their uptake. The Commission will report on the implementation of the ComPAct under the TSI reporting requirements.
The Member States can participate in the ComPAct at their own pace and according to their needs and institutional set-up. The tools, methodologies, peer support, good practice exchanges put forward will help the Member States to learn from each other, innovate and improve effectiveness of their public administration.
Public administrations at national, regional and local level are responsible for ensuring the sound and sustainable management of EU and national budgets. They are critical in designing and implementing reforms and investments, including under the National Recovery and Resilience Plans and regional development strategies.
On 29 April 2021 the Commission adopted its Staff Working Document to support public administrations in the Member States to deliver on reforms. It elaborates on the importance of public administrations in meeting the EU’s objectives and on the Commission’s experience in helping them boost their capabilities.
On 17 December 2021 the Expert Group on Public Administration and Governance was established. The Expert Group is a platform for dialogue between the Commission and representatives from the Member States, with its main objective being to identify common challenges and come up with innovative approaches as one united administration.
Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms (see picture) : “Reinforcing the capacity of public administrations across the EU, at national, regional and local level is crucial to ensure the success and modernisation of our Union. From managing structural transformations, implementing policy and undertaking strategic reforms, public administrations are at the forefront of achieving our shared goals. With ComPAct, we demonstrate that we are a Union that supports, contributing to Member States’ capacity to deliver on our agreed objectives.”
[*1] Term used to describe an increasing convergence of administrative practices amongst the Member States based on shared values and principles.
[*2] Based on the Principles of Public Administration, SIGMA (EU – OECD collaboration).