The Cohesion Fund, set up in 1994 by Council Regulation (EC) 1164/94, provides funding for environmental and trans-European network projects.

Legal basis  

Article 177 (in particular the second paragraph thereof) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).


The Cohesion Fund was established for the purpose of strengthening the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the European Union in the interests of promoting sustainable development. For the 2014-2020 programming period it provides support to:

  • investment in the environment, including areas related to sustainable development and energy which present environmental benefits;
  • trans-European networks in the area of transport infrastructure (TEN-T);
  • technical assistance.

In the context of projects serving the EU’s environmental protection objectives, the Cohesion Fund may also contribute in fields relating to sustainable development, such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and — in the transport sector outside the trans-European networks — rail transport, inland waterway transport, sea transport, intermodal transport systems and their interoperability, management of road, maritime and air traffic, clean urban transport and public transport.

As of 2014, the Cohesion Fund supports — with EUR 11.3 billion — transport infrastructure projects with European added value under the new Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)[1].

Eligible countries  

The Cohesion Fund is reserved for Member States whose gross national income (GNI) per capita is less than 90% of the EU average. During the 2014-2020 programming period, the Cohesion Fund is providing funding for 15 Member States: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Budget and financial rules  

For the 2014-2020 programming period, the EU is allocating some EUR 63.4 billion to the Cohesion Fund (excluding transfers to the Connecting Europe Facility), and the level of financing from the Cohesion Fund for a project can amount to up to 85% of its cost.

The Cohesion Fund allocations for 2014-2020 per Member State  
Member State Budget (in EUR million)
Bulgaria 2 278.3
Czech Republic 6 258.9
Estonia 1 073.3
Greece 3 240.5
Croatia 2 559.5
Cyprus 288.9*
Latvia 1 349.4
Lithuania 2 048.9
Hungary 6 025.4
Malta 217.7
Poland 23 207.9
Portugal 2 861.7
Romania 6 934.9
Slovenia 895.3
Slovakia 4 168.2
Total 63 390
* Including the additional amount of EUR 19.4 million allocated to Cyprus and resulting from the review of eligibility for the Cohesion Fund for 2017-2020  
Source: European Commission ESIF open data portal, April 2017  

Role of the European Parliament  

The Cohesion Fund Regulation for the 2014-2020 period was subject to the ordinary legislative procedure, and Parliament had full rights to propose amendments. This enabled Parliament to make the proposed rules more flexible and better suited to the needs of the Member States; it also managed to broaden the scope of Cohesion Fund investments to include investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy use, in particular in the housing sector.

Parliament supported the idea of introducing common indicators for the Cohesion Fund, which will facilitate future assessment of its use. It successfully insisted that, unlike the Commission proposal, the regulation should include the possibility of amending the list of these indicators, through delegated acts, where adjustments are deemed necessary in order to ensure effective assessment of progress with regard to implementation.

Following the mid-term review of the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020, which was accompanied by a package of legislative proposals, no substantial changes have been made to the Cohesion Fund.

[1]Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Connecting Europe Facility, amending Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 680/2007 and (EC) No 67/2010. 

Filipa Azevedo