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RIS3 will be central in the dialogue with the Commission to establish the next Operational Programmes.

RIS3 will be central in the dialogue with the Commission to establish the next Operational Programmes.

Commission presents preliminary views on priority investment areas and framework conditions for the period 2021-2027

On 28 February the Commission presented its six-monthly evaluation document on the progress made by the Member States (European Semester).  On this occasion, it includes an annex setting out the Commission services' preliminary views on the priority investment areas and the framework conditions for the effective implementation of cohesion policy 2021-2027.  These priority investment areas derive from the broader context of "bottlenecks" and investment needs and regional disparities assessed in the 6-monthly report.

(This article refers to Spain.  For another ME see 2019 European Semester: Country Reports -Annex D- for information on dialogue premises in other Member States).

The annex provides the basis for dialogue between Member States and the Commission services with a view to programming cohesion policy funds (European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund Plus).   In accordance with the new policy objectives set out in the draft Regulation as investment priorities, the premises for Spain in Policy Objective 1 (a smarter Europe) are as follows.

Innovative and smart industrial transformation

Spain remains a moderate innovator and the innovation capabilities of its public sector and companies are insufficient to increase their productivity. High priority investment needs are therefore identified to enhance research and innovation capabilities and the uptake of advanced technologies within the framework of regional smart specialisation strategies identifying priority areas based on regional needs, in particular to:

  • foster investment in research and innovation, in particular to increase the number of innovative firms in the Smart Specialisation Strategy sectors, including innovative public procurement and development of new products, processes and services;
  • enhance technology transfer and market-oriented cooperation between businesses, research centres and universities, in particular through the development and use of innovation eco-systems and the increase of the capacity of firms to internalise external knowledge;
  • stimulate interregional cooperation in new value chains, also with other Member States;
  • increase synergies and complementarities between national and regional operational programmes through joint programming for a more efficient use of public resources.

Digital transformation

In order to increase the uptake of new generation Information and Communication Technology by businesses and to improve the access to e-government and other public e-services, priority investment needs are identified to reap the benefits of digitisation for citizens, companies and governmental bodies, and in particular to:

  • support the uptake of digital technologies and Information and Communication Technology based business models for SMEs, including infrastructures and services like digital innovation hubs, as well as promoting e-skilling and market-driven Information and Communication Technology skills in small and medium sized enterprises;
  • develop and promote interoperable e-government and e-services (health, education and other public services), in particular in remote and outermost regions, and including joint provision of services in border areas.


The reduced size of Spanish small and medium sized enterprises affects their innovation capacity and productivity. High priority investment needs are therefore identified to enhance growth and competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises, and in particular to:

  • promote entrepreneurship, growth of start-ups/scale-ups, incubators and accelerators, access to advanced business services, and new business models for small and medium sized enterprises, in particular through investment in intangibles;
  • boost exports, by increasing the number of regular exporters, in particular of SMEs with a focus on developing the link between exporting and innovation;
  • encourage entrepreneurial ecosystems by supporting networking, business transfer ecosystems, (industry-led) cluster development and deployment of joint interregional innovative projects, also cross-border


Skill gaps and mismatches hinder productivity and technology diffusion, and affect the development of innovative competences in Spain. In this sense, priority investment needs are identified to develop skills for smart specialisation, industrial transition and entrepreneurship, and in particular to:

  • stimulate innovation management, specific training and re-skilling in the areas of smart specialisation, industrial transition and entrepreneurship, in particular on key enabling technologies and emerging fields;
  • integrate education institutions within national and regional innovation ecosystems to increase the commercial viability and market relevance of their research projects.