A partnership is a two-way relationship, which entails a long-term commitment between two or more parties whose objective is to share knowledge, enhance technological capabilities, foster innovation and strengthen competitiveness. Partnerships of this kind involve interaction and mutual dependency and entail the sharing of risks and costs as well as market access and power. Partnerships can exist on many levels, from national or international strategic alliances at a policy level at one end of the partnering continuum to locally based practical initiatives at the other. Partnership as a mode of governance is increasingly common across a range of policy areas, including socio-economic, environmental, civil society, etc., and within political systems of different types.
When examining the importance of partnerships in the context of EU integration one can identify several reasons:
- Priority needs are addressed, ownership and commitment are created, and the absorption capacity of a country/region is increased;
- A wider range of expertise results in better quality programmes;
- Greater legitimacy and transparency of decisions as a counterbalance to political influence supports democracy;
- Institutional capacity through institutional networking and learning across organisations is improved.
Project partnerships are also important because of: economies of scale; co-financing; and building of civil society/social capital.