Join a peer review to improve your operational programme or policy

Is your organisation responsible for the implementation of local or regional development policies, in particular the management of structural funds? Join European peers to receive advice on how to best implement your policy or programme.

About peer reviews in a nutshell: check this one-pager that describes the service in brief.


How does a peer review work?

Peers from a selected number of regions are invited to examine the specific territorial and thematic context and make recommendations based on their experience and expertise. In general, this happens during an onsite visit that lasts two days, but since March 2020 the format was adapted to online as well. The meeting(s) consist of analysing the regional situation among peers, discussing approaches, solutions and recommendations, drafting a 'to-do list' for follow-up action and receiving immediate feedback.

Being driven by the spirit of interregional learning, the peer reviews require an overall readiness to share, reflect and improve among all parties involved. Preparation is required on all sides to ensure the selected peers are well matched to the needs of the host region. In addition, you can be a host receiving advice on one occasion and provide your expertise as a peer the next time around. This is a true win-win exchange!

Technically speaking, peer reviews should involve peers from at least two countries, other than the country of the host. The Platform experts will identify suitable peers as well as facilitate the thematic exchanges. For the in person meetings, we can cover the travel and accommodation costs for up to six peers per peer review. The host region should arrange and pay for the organisational aspects of the visit (venue, local visits). Catering and translation costs can be covered, if needed. 

How do I apply to host a peer review?

The call for peer reviews is open permanently. Applicants can submit their application at any time here. Applications are assessed on a rolling basis.

You can consult the terms of reference here. This document will give you information about the application process as well as a practical guidance for the different steps of the peer review.

Despite the uncertain situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our peer review service remains open. We offer now the possibility to meet online.

How are peers identified?

Based on the request of the host region, the Platform experts will contact regions across Europe with the relevant thematic expertise to identify and invite relevant peers, including partner organisations from Interreg Europe projects. It is envisaged that a targeted call of interest will be held to identify the most relevant peers for the submitted requests.

Success stories of previous peer reviews

Since October 2018, when this service was launched, the Policy Learning Platform was on the ground around Europe in various locations to help regional policymakers find a solution to their policy challenge. From Berlin (Germany) or Sofia (Bulgaria) to Eupen (Belgium), Gävleborg (Sweden), Vienna or Karlovac (Croatia) our experts facilitated fruitful meetings that resulted in concrete recommendations for the host.

Are you eager to discover examples of previously performed peer reviews? See some examples below.

All our peer reviews reports are available here.

1.  Smart Growth Operational Programme, Ministry of Education and Science of Bulgaria, Sofia in June 2019

Centres of Excellence and Centres of Competence are key innovation infrastructures in advanced regional innovation systems. In Bulgaria, they aim to attract highly qualified researchers within a triple helix arrangement. Involving public organisations, private companies, and universities to generate leading applied research, experimental development, and technological innovations in sectors prioritised in the country’s Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3). 

During this two-day event, the peers and the host country discussed management models, governance structures, private sector involvement, extra-regional cooperation, and financial models to ensure sustainability of such centres. The exact policy recommendations can be found in this summary report.

2. The German speaking community in the East of Belgium, Eupen in May 2019

The focus of the peer review in the German speaking community was on practical approaches and challenges in coordinating and implementing a multi-municipality SECAP and in supporting the local authorities regarding energy-related measures. The community aims to improve its management strategy to measure implementation, reporting and overall coordination together with local stakeholders, to reach its ambitious climate goals for 2030.

The peer review was very well received. Johanna Punkari, Project Manager at South Ostrobothnia Energy Agency Thermopolis mentions ‘I have learnt a lot of things about funding schemes and tools used in other regions. And I have seen that other peers are facing the same issues for example in the area of mobility. When I am back in Finland, I will share with the 100 employees in my region what I have learnt during the Peer Review in East Belgium’. 

Discover more about the experiences exchanged and lessons learned during the peer review.

3. Regional council of Gävleborg, Sweden in January 2019

During this two-day meeting, the challenges of leadership and governance of regional innovation processes were discussed. The policy challenges were pointed out, peer analyses were performed and joint brainstorming sessions for solutions helped to prepare concrete policy recommendations for follow-up actions.

'In the meeting we developed a model for innovation windows, where multiple windows of opportunity have to be considered in order to implement results, this had not been done before. This has really changed the way we manage the different instruments and projects of our innovation policy. Moreover, we shared the peer review recommendations with other regions and organisations in Sweden.' (Jan Nylander, Project Manager for Region Gävleborg - host of this peer review)

You can access the experiences and outcomes of the Regional council of Gävleborg

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