The Role of National Agencies in the New Generation of EU Programmes

The Hague/Scheveningen, 18 November 2005


The new “Integrated Action Programme in the field of Lifelong Learning”, will be operational in January 2007, that is, if everything goes well and the EU budget is approved on time. But even if the programme start is postponed, the programme architecture will remain a hot topic in the months to come. What will the new generation of programmes bring to National Agencies? Some concepts implemented by the Member States may have to be revised to match the new programme architecture, others may already be the Commission’s “star pupils” and fulfil all requirements. Even under the new programme, different approaches and interpretations will be valid. There are however questions that need to be discussed in the preparation phase of the programme.

The seminar provided a forum for the identification of important issues and for the sharing of knowledge among ACA members, as well as between ACA members and representatives of other National Agencies. Present approaches as well as ideas for future models were presented and discussed:

  • Status and concept of National Agencies; legal and financial regulations
  • How governmental can a “non-governmental agency” be?
    Establishing an agency: appointed by the government or through a (national or Europe-wide) tendering procedure
  • One integrated agency for an integrated programme or different agencies for each of the programme pillars (school education, higher education, vocational training, adult education)?
  • Beyond EU programmes: chances and risks of an integrated management of EU programmes, national and (non-EU) international scholarship programmes, higher education marketing, etc. How do different National Agencies manage to connect the management of EU programmes to a wider range of activities?
  • Tied to the apron strings of Brussels – who decides what? How far goes decentralisation and hence competencies of the National Agencies? Who is responsible for selection? Are National Agencies Brussels’ servants or advocates of their “clients”, i.e. higher education institutions and other programme beneficiaries?
  • What are quality standards/requirements on the National Agencies under the new programme? What should an operating framework to be agreed upon by National Agencies, national authorities and the European Commission look like? Should there be quality standards for the European Commission and the Executive Agency?
  • The role of the new Executive Agency – an old shoe with a new name?
  • Cooperation between different National Agencies, an un(der)used potential?
This seminar was kindly hosted by ACA member Nuffic. Participation was on invitation only.

8th in the series “European Policy Seminars” of the Academic Cooperation Association