European Structural and Investment Funds: preparing for closure – best practice guide and key deadlines

A guide to best practice and key deadlines related to the closure of the 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Programmes.

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Operation lifecycle - closure

Operation closure is a key step in the life cycle of an operation and should be considered and planned for carefully.

It is very important that the process of closure starts in good time. Lead Partners and Delivery Agents will have been managing the operation risks during its lifetime. A key risk at the latter end of the operation is the failure to ensure correct use and implementation of the operation exit strategy. This could lead to an unnecessarily lengthy closure process e.g. because of inadequate information being provided, failure to cease delivery in a timely fashion, inability to submit the final financial claim to required timescales or rushing to complete the final evaluation etc.

All delivery activity should have finished prior to the operation end date and should have been planned for in the exit strategy as well as collection of the data (financial and indicator) for the final claim. The ending of staff contracts or departure of staff across the operation will have commenced in the run up to the operation’s end date, therefore it is essential that key staff are retained to cover the closure of the operation and any limited post end date closure activity as is required e.g. staff need to be available to input the final claim if that will occur after the immediate end date of the operation.

Another important factor to consider when approaching the closure of an operation is that all operations financed through European Structural Funds may be selected for a future European Commission (EC) audit visit or a visit from Scottish Government Audit Authority. As a Lead Partner, you will have already undergone at least one audit and you should have some experience of the process involved so need to bear this is mind when closing the operation, and ensure key staff are available to respond to audit requests.



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