The Cohesion Policy's partnership principle prescribes the inclusion of local authorities and civil society in EU funds’ investments. A close link of EU funding to citizens is crucial for bringing European Union policies closer to European citizens and thus improving the legitimacy of public spending.
The involvement of civil society – given that the basic level of transparency is secured – serves as an additional control mechanism on the spending of EU funds. This is of particular importance in central and eastern European countries where misuse of public money is too often on the agenda.
Increased civic engagement and participation in decision-making about EU funds will help to improve their quality, relevance and effectiveness. It will also ensure that socio-environmental concerns are addressed.
Only public participation, transparency and access to information can guarantee the proper application of environmental safeguards.
EU member states and national Cohesion Policy managing authorities should actively – not only upon request – give the public access to all information necessary to allow for informed participation in the decision-making process. They should actively promote public participation and the consistent involvement of civil society.