Video Message by Commissioner Elisa Ferreira for the ‘Forum PA Italy – The European dimension’

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Caro Ministro Brunetta,

Caro Presidente Fedriga,

Egregio Sindaco Decaro,

Egregio Sindaco Gualtieri,

Cari partecipanti, cari organizzatori,

E’ un piacere essere qui con voi oggi e vi ringrazio sentitamente per avermi invitata a partecipare, per la terza volta consecutiva, a questa iniziativa senza eguali in Italia, un’iniziativa in onore della pubblica amministrazione e della sua modernizzazione.

Because, dear colleagues, public administration will be even more crucial in the years ahead. And while European public administrations are all different, they are working on similar goals, and are faced with comparable challenges.

First, we will need quality public administrations to cope with future crises. In covid, we saw the value of hard working, committed public administrations.

Public administrations were crucial in dealing with the health crisis, as well as in dealing with the economic crisis.

From healthcare to schooling, from business support to job protection from providing services to citizens to implementing the green and digital transition: public administrations are the faithful guardian of Europe, dutifully at their post, providing services whatever the rapidly changing circumstances.

And in cohesion policy, we supported you from the outset, with emergency support on the ground in less than 4 weeks. But only with modern, effective public administrations can we ensure the help of the economic support reaches our citizens, companies and administrations.

Citizens recognise our common work! Despite the challenges of the last 2 years, public trust in government has risen in two-thirds of EU Member States.

And in the crisis of Russia’s unprovoked, and unjustified, military aggression against Ukraine, public administrations have again acted promptly, and decisively, especially in bidding welcome and integrating civilians fleeing the war zone.

Second, public administration will be crucial in the recovery. They will be at the core of the reforms and investments to secure our economic recovery. This includes not least the funds we have put forward at EU level, in particular the Cohesion funds, REACT-EU, and also the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

I know that you, Minister Renato Brunetta, have been placing much emphasis on this. As has Minister Mara Carfagna. And it is a great pleasure working with you on our common efforts.

Italy was one of the first thirteen countries to formally submit its Recovery and Resilience Plan on the 30th of April 2021.

This ambitious plan required an innovative political approach supported by a highly committed public administration. This quality will need to be maintained in the coming months and years to deliver the plan and enable key investments and reforms that prepare the ground for the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transitions.

Third, public administrations will be crucial in the long term transition. The 8th Cohesion Report on the situation and trends of the regions of Europe, identified a development trap. Many less developed regions of Europe, including those in Southern Italy, experience only limited convergence, an economic glass ceiling.

There can be many factors behind this trap, but the cohesion report identified two key factors: innovation systems and institutions. Both of which public administrations play an essential part.

So public administrations are crucial in crisis, crucial in the recovery and crucial in the long-term transition to a green and digital economy.

So, what can we do to rise to these challenges?

Each challenge is a double challenge: public administrations must take the lead in helping society adjust to the future society and economy, while at the same time reforming, and digitalising, and greening, their own processes.

We need to learn fast and deliver under increasing pressure of uncertainty, urgency and deep transformation.

To rise to the double challenge, we must go beyond “the usual suspects” in national administrations. All too often are administrative reforms focussing mainly at the national level, while many regional and local administrations lag behind in knowledge, capacity and resources.

This is not just an Italian phenomenon, you find it across Europe. But I am delighted to see that you are showing the way in dealing with it. And I am especially encouraged to see such an inclusive event. I congratulate the organisers for bringing together and facilitating exchanges among key representatives of public administration at all levels, central, regional and local.

Their role and importance is well recognised by this week’s event, which showcases many excellent examples coming from regional and local administrations across Italy.

Let’s not forget that it is to a high degree the regional and local administrations that are implementing our policies and having the direct contact with our citizens.

I am also delighted to see business representatives, civil society, academia and researchers taking part in these discussions. Your input and experience is vital, because we want to make decisions and policies driven by data and evidence.

And there is work to be done! The Italian Recovery and Resilience Plan plans a series of reforms, including a comprehensive reform of public employment, a reduction of red tape and strengthening administrative capacity, especially at the local level.

This last point has already required the recruitment of 1000 professionals to support local authorities in implementation and simplification.

We know this will be a challenge, but we in the European Commission share the view that the quality of public administration is key, and we will continue to work on increasing knowledge and awareness of this, placing it firmly on the political agenda. And at the same time we are ready to provide support which I would urge you to use to the full.

We have the Technical Support Instrument, which provides world class knowledge, expertise and support for reforms. This can be reforms in those areas that are important for you. We also currently have two flagships directly related to public administration: one to develop digital government services, the other to enhance the quality of regional and local administrations. And in addition, there are several multi-country collaborations to improve the quality of public administration.

The Technical Support Instrument enables you to tap into expertise and experience. I know Italy has already made use of some of these, and urge you to continue to do so, not least bearing in mind the deadline for applying for this year, which is end of October.

In 2022 we also established an expert group on public administration. It brings together public administrations from across Europe to building relations with other administrations and the Commission, to discuss, exchange and share experiences, and learn from each other, and to bring to our attention the issues you find of importance.

Finally, in 2023 we will pilot the exchange of civil servants between Member States. This aims to  help you build strong relations with colleagues in other Member States and to learn from each other the specific skills that you need.

I will close with a reminder of just how well public administrations, in Italy and Europe, have coped with the challenge of Covid, and how we have increased the trust of our citizens.

We must build on this experience to create better public administrations, fit for the crises and challenges of the future.

Administrations will take the lead in future changes, but they cannot be afraid to change themselves.

Administrations that work together at all levels, from the national, to the regional and local.

Administrations that learn together, and make the most of the rich treasure trove of expertise and experience, from across Europe.

Each PA forum has been a milestone in this journey. Make today’s milestone count! And I am honoured to be among your travelling companions.

Grazie ancora per l’invito e buon lavoro!

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