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Project planning for EU projects in 2020

In the year 2020, the world saw a massive change. With the threat of the pandemic, the labor market changed in ways that most people could not imagine. After only a few months of operations, companies changed their entire systems and adopted new ways of working, and set new priorities.

Living in the Digital World

The digital footprint is now more important than ever, seeing as more and more people are turning their business digital and are promoting a work from home policy that can keep their employees safe. This new way of things started small and has now spread across the world.

It is completely reasonable to assume that the implementation of European projects would also get affected by this situation. The process if implementing a European project evolves around the collaboration of different organizations from the entire European area which in most cases occurred on a physical level.

Promoting social distancing

However, now that social distancing is a must, we notice that this is no longer possible. The inability to meet face to face and discuss the evolution of the project has had a great effect on the time need to complete the project in general.

The first thing we noticed is deadlines for projects being extended.  The Commission has taken the threat very seriously and the policies have changed aiming at keeping people healthy. At the moment we still notice a lot of organizations trying to go fully digital to keep up with this new “trend” that appears to be here to stay.

EU projects are going strong

The pandemic was of course not enough to stop EU projects from being implemented. At the moment and at least until the first have of 2021, working from home is the safest way for everyone to work. Therefore the EU guidelines are suggesting that social distancing is the safest and most effective way to work for the next few months.

Of course, the project planning process sees a lot of changes as well. In most cases, the organization of a project from day one until the approval and start of the project were taking place digitally. The factor that has changed the most is the transition from a work environment to a home environment that serves as a temporary office.

Going through the transition

Although it has been observed that not everyone is comfortable with this transition the majority of employees have shown a very positive response to the new status quo. In the case of European projects, the numbers can support this premise.

For the rest of 2020 and a large portion of 2021, most European organizations will need to upgrade their systems and transition to a much more effective online system. Organizations with many years of experience have a much bigger database that they will need to protect.

System security importance

Digital security will also need to be a priority, seeing as all the information handled by the bodies that implement EU projects is sensitive and in some cases classified. Sharing it online will be unavoidable and therefore will need to be safe.

By digitizing files, and using systems for easy and fast online communication, European organizations will have the opportunity to reach out to more potential partners and set up more collaborations. At the same time, however, we notice a great loss of networking opportunities that could emerge by having a physical presence in events and talking to a lot of people, perhaps at the same time.

Losing networking opportunities

It is not yet clear as to how the current situation will be resolved. Up to this point, we have seen that as new opportunities are emerging in the field of EU projects, some previous processes such as the networking process are suffering.

Eventually, solutions will emerge and the obstacles that organizations face at the moment will no longer be a problem. What is important now is to stay in contact with partners, communicate often, and start familiarizing with as many digital channels as possible.

We are still expected a lot of changes by the end of the year. With Horizon Europe starting at the beginning of 2021 and the budget still being allocated to cover the current needs, we cannot yet predict possible outcomes, decisions, and policies. The EU Commission continues to enhance European Programmes, seeing as they are the most promising way to bring solutions and change.


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Alexandra Kyritsaka
Head of Planning and Development Unit

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