EU Structural Funds - European Cohesion Policy
European Cohesion policy aims – via the Structural Funds – to reinforce economic and social cohesion by redressing the main regional imbalances through support for the development and structural adjustment of regional economies. It supports the priorities of the European Community and in particular the need to strengthen competitiveness and innovation.
The fundamental difference between Cohesion policy financed by the Structural Funds and FP7 and CIP is that its management and programming is decentralised, i.e. the implementation and allocation of funds to projects is not handled by the European Commission, but delegated to national/regional Managing Authorities.
The three main “structural” funds under which research and innovation activities can be supported are the:
- European Regional Development Fund (ERDF): for strengthening competitiveness through helping regions to anticipate and promote economic change through innovation and the promotion of the knowledge society, entrepreneurship, the protection of the environment, and the improvement of their accessibility. It also supports cross-border co-operation through joint local and regional initiatives, trans-national co-operation aiming at integrated territorial development, and interregional co-operation and exchange of experience.
- Cohesion Fund (CF): for the least-developed Member States and regions, i.e. Member States whose GNI (Gross National Income) is lower than 90% of the EU average can benefit from the Cohesion Fund. Assistance from the Cohesion Fund shall be given to actions in the areas of trans-European transport networks and the environment within the priorities assigned to Community environmental protection policy (including energy, rail, sea transport and air traffic).
- European Social Fund (ESF): strengthening competitiveness and employment by helping Member States and regions to adapt the workforce, their enterprises and entrepreneurs with a view to improving the anticipation and positive management of economic change, in particular by promoting lifelong learning and increased investment in human resources, the development of qualifications and competences, the dissemination of information and communication technologies, e-learning, eco-friendly technologies as well as the promotion of innovation and business start-ups.
Source of information: EC (ed.), Pratical Guide to EU Funding Opportunities for Research and Innovation, 2009