• Cover all regions, concentrate most money on vulnerable areas
  • Focus more on sustainable urban development and accommodate special needs of outermost regions
  • Increase funding dedicated to climate objectives

New rules for the Regional Development and Cohesion funds were approved on Thursday, aiming to strengthen the EU’s economic, social and territorial cohesion policy.

The Regional Development Committee approved a report drafted by Andrea Cozzolino (S&D, IT) with 28 votes to 3 and 3 abstentions. The updated rules will apply to the period 2021-2027 and will cover all regions, with special focus on less developed communities, urban and outermost regions.


The significant part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which is by far the largest public EU fund, should be spent on smart growth and the green economy. The Cohesion Fund (CF) should continue to focus on investment in environmental and transport infrastructure, MEPs said.


Regions should spend at least 30% to 50% of the funding received on a smart, innovative Europe. On the fight against climate change and for the circular economy, MEPs strengthened the Commission’s proposal, so that every region has to invest at least 30% to achieve these crucial goals. In detail, MEPs adjusted requirements on how the ERDF support should be spent as follows:


Countries:

Minimum % of resources at national level for “smarter Europe” (EP/EC)

Minimum % of resources at national level for “greener Europe” (EP/EC)

More developed regions (GDP per capita above 100% of average EU GDP)

50% (60%)

30% (0%)

Transitions regions ( GDP per capita between 75-100% of average EU GDP)

40% (45%)

30% (30%)

Less developed regions (GDP per capita below 75% of average EU GDP)

30% (35%)

30% (30%)


Moreover, MEPs want to see airport infrastructure, waste disposal and treatment of residual waste, as well as fossil fuels related investments excluded from regional EU funding, with few exceptions linked to outermost regions, and solutions in line with circular economy principles and energy efficiency.


Quotes


Rapporteur Andrea Cozzolino (S&D, IT) said “We achieved in the ERDF-CF, the biggest EU public investment tool for the upcoming years. It is now more flexible as we shifted the focus from the national to the regional level. We nearly doubled investments for cities and their urban sustainable development from 6 to 10%. For the first time, a minimum of 5% could also be allocated to small villages and rural areas which were hit hard by the crisis. The investment clause offers further national flexibility to support key areas in the interest of our citizens. This is a huge success for more jobs and sustainable growth in our European regions!"


Next steps


The committee is ready to start negotiations with the European Commission and the Council as soon as plenary will have approved the negotiating mandate.


Background


In the context of the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, the European Commission published a proposal for a regulation on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF). The new single regulation on the ERDF and CF (previously covered by two separate regulations) identifies the specific objectives and scope of support for both funds, including non-eligible activities.