The Cohesion Fund was set up in 1994 and provides funding for environmental and trans-European network projects in the Member States whose gross national income per capita is less than 90% of the EU average.

Legal basis

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

Objectives

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. In the 2014-2020 and 2021-2027 programming periods 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.

For 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.

In the 2014-2020 period, the Cohesion Fund provided support amounting to EUR 11.3 billion to transport infrastructure projects with European added value under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

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, Czechia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Budget and financial rules

For the 2014-2020 programming period, the EU allocated around EUR 63.4 billion to the Cohesion Fund (excluding transfers to the Connecting Europe Facility), and the level of co-financing from the Cohesion Fund for projects can amount to up to 85% of the costs.

Cohesion Fund allocations for 2014-2020 per Member State

Member State Budget (in EUR million)
Bulgaria 2 278.3
Czechia 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.

The Cohesion Fund in the 2021-2027 period

In 2021, the EU started a new multiannual programming period. The rules for the Cohesion Fund for the 2021-2027 period are established in the new regulation on the European Regional Development Fund and on the Cohesion Fund. It will continue to support projects under the ‘Investment for growth and jobs’ goal, mainly for environmental and transport infrastructure projects, including trans-European networks (TEN-T).

The new regulation maintains thematic concentration. The Cohesion Fund will support two specific objectives of the new cohesion policy: a greener, low-carbon and circular economy (Policy Objective (PO2)); and a more connected Europe (PO3). The new cohesion policy also introduced a list of activities that are not supported by the Cohesion Fund. It includes the decommissioning or the construction of nuclear power stations, airport infrastructure (except in the outermost regions) and some waste management operations (e.g. landfill). In addition, the Cohesion Fund is not allowed to support investment in housing unless related to the promotion of energy efficiency or renewable energy use.

In the 2021-2027 period, the European Union will allocate EUR 42.6 billion (at 2018 prices) to the Cohesion Fund, out of which the contribution to the Connecting Europe Facility will amount to EUR 10 billion. The post-2020 Cohesion Fund will finance projects in the same 15 Member States as in the 2014-2020 programming period. The co-financing rate can still reach up to 85% of the value of the projects.

Cohesion Fund allocations for 2021-2027 per Member State

Member State Budget (in EUR million)
Bulgaria 1 467
Czechia 7 389
Estonia 952
Greece 3 508
Croatia 1 372
Cyprus 207
Latvia 1 204
Lithuania 1 645
Hungary 3 015
Malta 192
Poland 10 750
Portugal 3 946
Romania 4 094
Slovenia 834
Slovakia 1 868
Total 42 556*

* Including technical assistance (EUR 114 million).

Source: European Commission, at 2018 prices.

Role of the European Parliament

The regulations establishing the new cohesion policy for the period 2021-2027 were subject to the ordinary legislative procedure, so 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.

 

Marek Kołodziejski