Cohesion policy background note 


Share this page: 

This note sets out the key EU regional investment policy changes to be made by the the cohesion policy reform package for 2014-2020.

What is cohesion policy?

Cohesion policy is the EU's main common investment policy tool.

Often referred to as "regional policy", it provides vital basic financial support for investing in regions of the EU, thus helping to create jobs and boost economic growth. It accounts for a substantial share - about a third - of the EU budget: €347 billion in 2007-2013, or almost €50 billion per year.

For 2014-2020, the EU member states have reduced this budget to just over €325 billion.

Cohesion policy's ultimate aim is to reduce disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the least-favoured regions or islands, including rural areas.

It gives practical expression to the solidarity between the peoples of Europe mentioned in the preamble to the Treaty on European Union. It also helps to achieve one of the Treaty's basic aims: that of strengthening the EU's economic, social and territorial cohesion by reducing disparities between its regions.

Cohesion policy works. It has achieved very positive results, including help to create 1.4 million new jobs in 2000-2006 and giving a substantial boost to GDP growth.

The money for cohesion policy projects comes from three funds, also called "European Structural and Investment Funds" (ESIF). These are the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund.

Cohesion policy supports thousands of projects every year. This funding helps, for example, to improve transport and internet links to remote regions, set up and grow small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in disadvantaged areas, clean up and protect the environment and improve education and skills. EU funding is also invested in innovation, developing new products and production methods, energy efficiency and tackling climate change.

Acting as fully-fledged co-legislator for the first time in the history of the architecture of this policy, members of the European Parliament Committee on Regional Development are strongly committed to ensuring that cohesion policy focuses on results and takes local, regional and national needs into account whilst delivering on EU objectives.