Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund

Structural Funds And Cohesion Fund

The Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund are financial tools set up to implement the regional policy of the European Union. They aim to reduce regional disparities in terms of income, wealth and opportunities. Europe's poorer regions receive most of the support, but all European regions are eligible for funding under the policy's various funds and programmes. The current Regional Policy framework is set for a period of seven years, from 2007 to 2013.

The Structural Funds are made up of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). Together with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund make up the great bulk of EU funding, and the majority of total EU spending.

Apart from funds under the Cohesion policy, there are other funds that have the potential to contribute to the regional development. These are:

  • Funds under the CAP, namely the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)
  • The European fisheries fund (EFF) established for the programming period 2007-2013 with the Council Regulation (EC) No 1198/2006 of 27 July 2006.

The Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund make up one of the largest items of the Union’s budget.

It is up to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to define the tasks, priority objectives and the organisation of the Structural Funds (the Regional Policy framework), through the ordinary legislative procedure and consulting the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions (leading to the publication of Regulations).

Sections below present information about objectives that have been defined for the current programming period, which runs from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013. The overall budget for this period is €347bn: €201bn for the European Regional Development Fund, €76bn for the European Social Fund, and €70bn for the Cohesion Fund. The objectives setup shapes the main focus of interventions (eligible activities and costs) and the overall allocations of funds from the EU budget.

The key indicator for the division of regions under singular objectives is the Gross National Product per capita (GNP p.c.) level. This is subject to criticism based on the fact that GDP p.c. is unable to reflect the real socioeconomic reality of regions. Some groups (e.g. Beyond GDP) and organizations propose the creation of a set of alternative indicators that could substitute the GDP and its derivates.

Read more about Structural Funds And Cohesion Fund:  A New Strategic Approach, Funds Management, New Architecture For The Future Programming Period (2014-2020)

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