Italian best practice in the field of local authorities collaboration: the European Policies Associated Service

The Municipality of Ancona promoted and is currently hosting and leading the European Policies Associated Service (SAPE), an innovative tool created by a network of Italian local institutions that includes ten towns and the Province of Ancona. 

The initiative was set up in 2014, with a phase of negotiations and then the subscription of the Convention by the political representatives of all partner bodies. In particular, this service was born to overcome localism, join forces, create sinergies and economies of scale, as well as experience and knowledge sharing among Local Public Authorities, in order to strengthen and coordinate access to 2014-2020 EU funds.

One of its main activities, carried on by an inter-municipal group of officers, is to promptly and professionally inform and advise on European policies, programmes and opportunities; lobby; propose quality integrated projects for local administrations, territories and citizens; promote European events and international projects' partnerships; manage the relationship with other local, regional, national and European bodies, institutions and networks (EU institutions and agencies, Europe Direct Network, ICLEI, Medcities, AII, FAIC, National Ministries, National Cohesion Agency, Marche Region etc.).  Furthermore, the SAPE aims at developing and enhancing the professional and technical expertise on project design, as well as on project management and evaluation, within the local administrations, in order to valorise and improve existing resources.

Through a new form of governance and a local public policy based on a shared approach among Administrations, the SAPE has allowed to pool the already existing single municipal expertises and thematic skills on EU policies in favour of all local communities. This service also ensures a close and effective political collaboration on EU topics among all partners, thanks to the Conference of Bodies, which provides guidance and policy directive.

Since its establishment, the SAPE has promoted projects, initiative and events especially in the field of environment and energy (LIFE, Horizon2020, INTERREG MED), social policies and migration (AMIF, EASI, ESF ROP and NOP, Europaid, Europe for Citizens), culture (Europe for Citizens, ERASMUS+, INTERREG ADRION) and youth (Youth Guarantee OP). The Service has been awarded in several occasions, at a local and national level (Smart Cities Observatory, SMAU Milano etc.), as good practice of innovative governance and it is representing and example to follow for many other Italian local authorities.

Written by Francesco Buoncompagni, Coordinator of the European Programmes Office in the Municipality of Ancona