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14th annual report on the implementation of the structural funds. COM (2003) 646 final, 30 October 2003

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COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES Brussels, 30.10.2003 COM(2003)646 final REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION 14th ANNUAL REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STRUCTURAL FUNDS 2 GENERAL SUMMARY The year 2002 saw the finalisation of programming, mainly for Objective 2 but also the Community Initiatives. Programme implementation reached a generally satisfactory cruising speed with a rate of execution comparable with the previous programming period. The first operations connected with the mid-term review were launched at the end of 2002 so as to be able to have the results of the evaluation in the second half of 2003. On 7 October 2002, a ministerial meeting organised by the Commission was the occasion for the Member States to scrutinise the Commission’s concrete proposals for improving the management of the Structural Funds. These proposals were designed to meet repeated requests from the Member States for greater simplification in the management of the Structural Funds and to reduce the slowness of procedures at both national and Community level, which had been largely the cause of a very slow start-up of programmes. The deadline for the submission of final payment requests for 1994-1999 programmes was 31 March 2003. However, by the end of 2002, only few assistance packages had been closed. Similarly, the deadline of June 2002 for sending documentation enabling the closure of programmes was met only in rare cases. ERDF With respect to Objective 1, the rate of implementation is satisfactory and has made it possible to avoid automatic decommitments under the n+2 rule1. However, there are big variations from one region to another and even within programmes. Analysis of programming complements shows that one third of ERDF assistance is going to projects in the productive environment and two thirds to basic infrastructure projects. Objective 2 shows an implementation rate lower than Objective 1 because programming under Objective 2 did not finished until 2002 with the adopti

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