Written by Sorina Ionescu and Christian Dietrich
EU Regional Policy is an investment policy. Via various funding programmes, it supports job creation, competitiveness, economic growth, improved quality of life and sustainable development. These investments contribute to the delivery of the Europe 2020 strategy. Regional policy also aims to reduce the economic, social and territorial disparities between Europe’s regions.
Framework for delivery
Regional/cohesion policy is delivered through three main funds: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund (CF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). For the 2014-20 programming period these funds, together with the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), make up the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds.
For 2014-20, €453.1 billion (source: European Commission) is available from ESI Funds (€351.8 billion from the three Cohesion Policy funds), for Member States to invest in 11 thematic objectives stemming from the Europe 2020 strategy, such as research, information and communications technologies (ICT), sustainable transport, SMEs, renewable energy and energy efficiency, environment, employment and education. The selected thematic objectives (and, for each, a summary of the main results expected from each of the ESI Funds), the indicative allocation of support by the EU (by thematic objective at national level for each of the ESI Funds), as well as the total indicative amount of support envisaged for climate change objectives, are set out in Partnership Agreements (PAs). Operational Programmes (OPs) – ERDF&CF, ESF, EAFRD and EMFF – include detailed information on allocated budgets, priority axes and measures to be financed, eligible areas and beneficiaries, and expected results.
ESIF allocations 2014-20
The total ESIF allocations for the period 2014-2020, by Member State are shown in the graph below:
The Europe 2020 strategy sets five targets, covering employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy, to be achieved by 2020. Each Member State has adopted its own national targets in each of these areas. The Commission monitors progress in achieving the objectives for 2020 and assesses Member States’ performance. It will make further proposals to review the strategy before the end of 2015.
Absorption of Structural and Cohesion Funds for the 2007-13 period
For 2007-13, EU funding for regional policy amounted to €347.6 billion, with Member State co-financing bringing total available funding to almost €700 billion. Data provided by the Commission show that 82.4% of the ERDF, 78.2% of the CF and 83.7% of the ESF has been paid to Member States (2015).
The graph shows the financial allocations from the Structural and Cohesion Funds (ERDF+CF+ESF) by Member State for the 2007-13 period, as well as the percentage that has been paid to each (absorption rate).