Through the Task Force on Better Implementation that I set as soon as I became Commissioner for Regional Policy, we have been working closely with Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia to help them make the most out their remaining EU funds from 2007-2013, within the applicable rules which requires these funds to be spent on projects by the end of 2015.
After the European Council of December 2014, we pledged to find solutions to ensure a swift and most efficient use of commitments under the 2007-2013 programming period, to help the Member States concerned deliver long-term projects in the years ahead, using the flexibility of the existing rules.
The Closure Guidelines are a Commission decision which explains in detail the steps we, the Member States and the Commission, need to take in order to finalise the 2007-2013 Cohesion Policy programmes. These programmes spend EU funds from 2007 until the end of 2015. Then, by March 2017, Member States have to submit a final report showing what they have done, an overview of the funding spent, and a closure declaration assessing the legality and regularity of the expenditure.
The revision aligns the Closure Guidelines with regulatory changes made by the Council and Parliament at the end of 2013 and simplifies some closure procedures concerning financial engineering instruments and "phasing" - the process of starting a project under one programming period and finishing it in the next period. What is new in the Closure Guidelines?
First, we added the "10% flexibility" aspect. This allows a programme to overspend 10% in a particular priority, provided it is compensated by an equivalent reduction in another priority of the same programme.
Tremendous results can be achieved within the existing rules and with the help of the Task Force, which provides country-specific and short-term solutions to help Member States speed up their absorption of EU funds; we are leaving no one behind.
More information about the Adopted Guidelines on Closure 2007-2013 can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index.cfm/en/information/publications/decisions/2013/adopted-guidelines-on-closure-2007-2013