Questions and Answers on the 2023 Technical Support Instrument

Source: European Commission (EC) i, published on Tuesday, March 21 2023.

What is the Technical Support Instrument?

The Commission's Technical Support Instrument (TSI) provides technical support to design and implement reforms in EU Member States. The TSI is demand driven, meaning that it follows a request from Member States. This support is not financial but consists of the best expertise available on the market which can help with the design and implementation of reforms.

The TSI is part of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027. It promotes the EU's economic, social and territorial cohesion by supporting the necessary reforms in the Member States.

Since 2017, through the Structural Reform Support Programme and the TSI, the Commission has provided technical support to all 27 Member States with more than 1,500 projects in a broad range of policy areas.

How much funding does each Member State receive?

The TSI has a budget of €864 million for 7 years. For 2023, its budget amounts to €115 million.

The Commission does not provide direct financial support to Member States, but it provides expertise to support the design and implementation of reforms. The reforms themselves are not funded by the TSI. These can be funded by national means or other EU funds, such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).

The expertise delivered by the Commission does not require national co-funding but the success of the support heavily relies on the engagement and ownership of the Member States authorities. In many cases, the support is offered by teams of external and Commission experts (from DG REFORM and/or other Commission services) who are deployed specifically for each case in a tailor-made fashion.

What kinds of reforms are eligible under the TSI?

The TSI may support a very broad range of reform projects. Eligible policy areas for reform support include:

  • Public financial management, tax policies and revenue administration
  • Governance, public administration and rule of law, including justice reforms
  • Business environment, growth, trade and investments
  • Labour market, education and social services, including migration management and integration
  • Healthcare, welfare and childcare
  • Green and digital policies
  • Financial sector and access to finance
  • Data and statistics
  • Preparation for membership of the euro area
  • Public health, security risks, service continuity

How can a Member State apply for reform support?

Each year and at the latest by the end of October, Member States may send requests for support. The Commission assesses them and discusses with the national coordinating authorities the country's needs and the options to support the reforms. The Commission then launches the projects on the ground after the adoption of the annual work programme of the TSI.

For 2023 151 reform projects were selected to support all Member States with 326 cutting-edge reforms.

How does the Commission choose which reform projects to support among the many requests it receives from MS?

TSI projects are selected on the basis of the criteria set out in the TSI and Financial Regulation. In line with the selection criteria defined in Article 9 of the TSI Regulation the Commission assesses each request for:

  • urgency, breadth and depth of the challenges identified
  • support needs in respect of the policy areas concerned
  • analysis of socioeconomic indicators, as well as institutional and general administrative capacity of the requesting Member State
  • the principles of transparency, equal treatment and sound financial management
  • prioritisation by the Member State.

How does the reform support work in practice?

The support may cover all stages of reforms, from their initial design to the implementation, change management and evaluation phase. It can take the form of strategic or technical advice, studies assessing reform needs or options in specific areas, training or in-country missions by experts.

The support delivered through the TSI:

  • starts with a request of the Member State. Their ownership and engagement are key for the success of reforms;
  • is tailor-made to each case and each country. The Commission identifies and analyses the exact needs in each situation;
  • brings to the country a unique combination of expertise. The Commission matches the best mix of expertise to the needs;
  • is hands-on and concrete in delivery. Upon reception of a request for support, the Commission starts a dialogue with the Member State to understand the reform need in detail and how to best deploy the most relevant support in the swiftest possible way;
  • strengthens the institutional and administrative capacity of EU Member States to (i) design and implement reforms, (ii) facilitate the green and digital transition, (iii) address challenges identified in the European Semester, or (iv) apply EU law.

What is a multi-country project?

Multi-country projects deliver support to multiple Member States to address common challenges. These projects, whilst providing tailored support to each Member State involved, promote mutual learning and the development of common approaches via peer exchanges. In 2023 there are 33 TSI multi-country projects.

Topics in 2023 include, for example:

  • accelerating the permitting processes for renewable energy;
  • enhancing the energy efficiency of public buildings and transport services;
  • improving the functioning of energy markets;
  • adapting to the consequences of climate change, including wildfires prevention and ensuring coastline protection in order to respond to coastal erosion and flood risks;
  • improving water and air quality policies.

For example, the TSI supports the capacity of 23 Member States to green their public finances by a tailored training programme for national civil servants. This project provides tools of budgetary policymaking, case studies and dedicated workshops to help Member States achieve climate and environmental goals.

What is a multi-regional project?

Multi-regional projects target regions which confront similar challenges. They provide tailored support to each region involved, promote mutual learning, peer exchanges and the development of common approaches. In 2023 there are 10 TSI multi-regional projects.

Topics include, for example:

  • Improving the security of EU ports and of their industrial clusters;
  • Integrating migrants and attracting talents to the labour market;
  • Supporting the green transition and securing mineral raw materials supply in regional ecosystems;
  • Managing healthcare data and analysis at regional level;
  • Strengthening the use and the absorption capacity of EU funds in the Outermost regions;
  • Improving the quality of multi-level governance and strengthening the resilience of islands' economies.

For example, the TSI will support islands in Greece, Croatia, and Sweden to design and implement strategies to develop their economies, advance their green and digital transition and improve citizens' well-being. Thanks to this support, the islands will better address common challenges such as demographic trends, labour market shortages, lack of productivity and innovation and improving the efficiency of a multi-level governance system.

What is a flagship project?

Flagship projects are reforms which are largely needed across different Member States and in line with the EU top priorities.

In 2023, 13 TSI flagship projects will be supported:

Does the TSI support the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Plans (RRPs)?

The TSI has supported several Member States with the preparation of their RRPs and is now supporting their implementation. More than 70% of the TSI projects selected in 2023 are related to the implementation of the RRPs.

So far, more than 400 TSI projects - including several new projects for 2023 - have been or will be contributing to the preparation or implementation of Member States' RRPs.

Can you give an example of public administrations' reforms supported by the TSI?

The efficiency and resilience of public administrations is crucial for Member States to deliver the economic recovery and make the best of the green and digital transitions. As the recent crises have shown, administrations need to be able to constantly adapt to a rapidly changing world. This requires new skills and new working methods, such as the digitalisation of public services, while ensuring quality, open, trusted and accountable services to all. To support Member States' reforms in this area, the TSI is launching in 2023 a new initiative to foster exchanges among civil servants of different Member States - the Public Administration Cooperation Exchange (PACE). Under this initiative, civil servants will have the possibility to work for short period in other Member States to exchange best practices and experiences.

Can you give an example of how the TSI contributes to the implementation of the Territorial Just Transition Plans?

The TSI is supporting 6 Member States in implementing their Territorial Just Transition Plans under the Just Transition Fund.

For example, the TSI supports the preparation of calls for projects, outreach and communication strategies, capacity building for local and regional authorities, development of tailor-made tools, and dissemination of good practices. This support will help the concerned regions to deploy the JTF funding.

Can you give an example of how the TSI contributes to energy security?

Since 2022, the TSI has been supporting Member States in their efforts to reduce their reliance on Russia's fossil fuels, as set out in the REPowerEU Plan. For example, the Commission provided 17 Member States with advice and capacity building to identify specific reforms and investments in the fields of renewable energy, energy efficiency, renewable hydrogen production, diversification of energy supply and innovative solutions to decarbonise the industry.

In addition, in 2023, the TSI will support 6 Member States to accelerate administrative procedures for renewable energy permits in line with the REPowerEU plan, and 7 Member States will benefit from support for renovation and energy efficiency projects, in line with the EU Renovation Wave, the proposals for a revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, and the Energy Efficiency Directive.

How is the TSI helping Member States with the consequences of Russia's unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine?

In the aftermath of Russia's unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine, the Commission launched a special call to support Member States welcoming people fleeing Ukraine and in their efforts to phase out their reliance on Russia's fossil fuels.

Furthermore, has been supporting several Member States in effectively implementing the sanctions against Russia. This includes, for example, the identification of the effective ownership or control of a company, which is relevant for the identification of the assets to be frozen. The support also focuses on monitoring crypto transactions to prevent sanctions' circumvention. In 2023, the TSI will help 9 Member States in mapping the competencies of national authorities for sanctions' implementation. This includes, for example, the analysis of strengths and weaknesses of different asset freezing approaches.

Can you give an example of how the TSI supports skills?

In line with the European Year of Skills 2023, the TSI 2023 will continue to support Member States in building their national strategies to overcome skill shortages and mismatches.

For example, the TSI has supported the creation of an EU Supervisory Digital Finance Academy. This Academy enhances the skills of the supervisory authorities to handle the risks of using of advanced technologies in the financial sector for better consumers' protection.