The expression ‘Follow the money’ is generally more associated with the world of crime investigation than with the probation sector. From the 25th – 27th of March 2009 though, this would be in a sense the theme for the CEP Conference “Funding Innovation and Collaboration in Probation”, held in Cambridge, UK. 75 delegates representing over 15 European countries shared their experiences and best practices on acquiring public, private and EU funding for probation projects. Martine Parmantier, Manager of the Criminal Justice Funding Programme (JPEN) of the EU Directorate General Justice, Freedom & Security (DG JFS), was one of them. My message to the sector of probation is to submit proposals of good quality for EU funding, which is secured until 2013. And really, applying is not that difficult.”

The conference, organized in collaboration with and financially made possible by NOMS, the probation service for England & Wales, aimed to enable the sector of probation to take full advantage of the existing funding possibilities, including those offered by embassies, municipalities and charitable funds. Nevertheless, the conference was focused on EU Funding, notably on JPEN, but also on ISEC, the funding programme for the prevention and fight againgst crime, which are the most obvious EU funding stream for the probation sector.

At the conference, Martine Parmantier gave an extensive presentation on JPEN and the other funding programmes of DG JFS. She could count on many questions of her fellow participants about the EU Criminal Justice Funding Programme during the breaks. “I think that in general most delegates already have a basic idea of how EU funding works”, she reacts. “However I think that some of them tend to focus on details, such as the financial management implications of EU funding, or the time needed to gather the information for an application. Sometimes, focusing on these details make the details more important than they are, which may be detrimental to the process of applying.”

Martine Parmantier argues that, instead, it is essential to truly understand the overall idea behind EU funding. “Once you have that, applying for EU funds is not so difficult. And if people have questions about EU funding , they should not hesitate to contact me or my colleagues at the European Commission to help them. After all, that is a part of our job. Everyone is most welcome to come to Brussels. And on special occasions, we also may come to explain how EU funding works on invitation. In this regard I have made visits to the Federal Ministry of Justice in Belgium and to the Ministry of Justice of Bulgaria in order to promote the JLS funding possibilities. In fact, that was also one of the reasons for me to participate at this CEP conference.”

Her presence at the Funding Conference also gave Martine Parmantier a good introduction to the sector of probation. “I am relatively new to criminal justice”, Martine Parmantier explains. “Being an economist by training, I started my career at the EU with the Directorate General for Enlargement, in charge of future Member States Cyprus, Malta and Bulgaria. For six months now, I am working now for DG JLS. I have to confess that until this conference, I didn’t exactly know what probation was, even though I have a daughter in law who is a probation officer. Now I have become aware what a great job she is doing! It is so important for the European societies to prevent re-offending.”

Events like the CEP conference also are an opportunity for Martine Parmantier to see how her work in Brussels relates to the reality of her ‘clients’. “On one hand I see how much our support to this sector is needed, and on the other hand I see that there are so many opportunities for probation services to access EU funding”, she says. “So I do call on the sector of probation to apply for EU funding! It really is worthwhile. Take for example the Italian Ministry of Justice. It always applies at every call for proposals. As such, the MoJ builds up a lot of expertise on how to apply for EU funding. And as a result it receives a lot of the grants from us. So I think that the probation sector should apply and get into partnerships; after all our funds are aimed to proposals with an European dimension. I have seen that there is a lot that probation services are doing, and we can help them. Last year I had to give back 6 million euro because of a lack of proposals. That really is a pity. So the sector needs to apply; with good project of course!”

For more information on JPEN funding, please don’t hesitate to contact Martine Parmantier at martine.parmantier@ec.europa.eu.

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