Innovative actions of the ERDF
for the socio-economic adjustment
of the disadvantaged regions of the European
"Guidelines for innovative actions
funded by the ERDF in 2000-2006".
Article 22 of Council Regulation
(EC) no 1260/99 laying down general provisions on the Structural Funds (OJ no.
L161 of 26 June 1999) states that, according to the procedures of Article 4 of
Regulation 1783/1999 relating to the ERDF (OJ no L213 of 13 August 1999), the
Commission may use the Funds to finance innovative actions that contribute to
the development of innovative methods and practices improving the quality of interventions
as covered by Objectives 1, 2 and 3.
Commission communication to the Member
States "The Regions in the new economy", COM/2001/0060/final of 31/01/01.
The aim of the innovative actions
is to help the least favoured regions craft a regional policy that effectively
tackles the new challenges of the future, in particular the global economy and
Improving the quality of the
interventions of the Objective 1 and 2 programmes co-funded by the ERDF
The primary objective of the innovative actions is to enhance the quality of the
interventions of the Structural Fund programmes part-funded by the ERDF in Objective
1 and 2 areas. To develop closer links between innovative actions and operational
programmes, mechanisms need to be established encouraging the testing of innovative
approaches to regional policy. For this, it is essential that those in charge
of innovative actions work more closely with the authorities managing the ERDF-funded
Objective 1 and 2 programmes.
Developing and strengtheningthe partnership
between the public and private sectors
As in the case of the Objective
1 and 2 programmes co-funded by the ERDF, the Commission would like the relevant
authorities in the regions to be as actively involved as possible in the innovative
actions. This involvement consists in setting up a stronger regional and local
partnership that includes the authorities responsible for the ERDF-funded Objective
1 and 2 programmes and the private sector. This partnership will work to develop
regional programmes for quality innovative actions and encourage the sharing of
experiences and networking among regions.
In combination with other
The innovative actions 2000-2006 must show pioneering
ways of combining regional policy with other Community policies, in particular
those aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and innovation at regional level, implementing
the eEurope initiative, and encouraging the creation of a European research area.
Consequently, the innovative actions will have to be better coordinated with the
actions of the ERDF-funded Objective 1 and 2 programmes in order to have a greater
impact on cohesion. Wherever possible, the actions must complement the actions
funded by the ESF for the same Objectives.
Helping regions share
and learn together
The innovative actions are a particularly advantageous
tool to facilitate exchanges of ideas between regions and encourage collective
learning through the comparison and dissemination of best practices. While respecting
the distinctive features of individual regions, the new innovative actions must
be a source of enrichment for the regions working in a theme-based network. Indeed,
innovation is by nature closely connected with the notion of risk and change.
The new generation of innovative actions offer the regions the opportunity to
better manage change and to take the necessary risks to test certain new important
directions of tomorrow's regional policy.
Target public - Beneficiaries
will be regions with a zone or part of their region listed as an Objective 1 or
2 area and regions benefiting from transition support under these Objectives.
The entire region may benefit from the regional programme of innovative actions,
including areas not covered by Objectives 1 and 2.
The Commission proposes that the
relevant authorities in the regions submit the proposed regional programme of
innovative actions to the Commission.
The regions will be responsible for
the management and implementation of the programmes. Each region must appoint
a management authority to oversee implementation and a payment authority to manage
the finances. A steering committee including the main regional players will be
responsible for the selection of individual projects and monitoring the programme's
The authorities in charge of the Objective 1 or 2 programmes part-funded
by the ERDF and/or the authorities in charge of other Community programmes in
the region as well as other public and private actors concerned at the regional
level should be part of the steering committees.
The relevant authorities in the regions
may submit a proposal for a programme until 31 May of each year for the years
2001 to 2005.
A programme may not last more than two years. Community support
is limited to a maximum of two programmes for the period 2000-2006. A second programme
may be presented, provided that the Commission has approved the financial and
final reports for the first programme.
Eligible measures - Nature of the activities
Commission proposes a programme-by-programme approach rather than a project-by-project
approach. It is also interested in seeing a smaller number of strategic themes
and would like structured collaboration between those responsible for the management
of the innovative actions and those in charge of the Objective 1 and 2 programmes
co-funded by the ERDF.
The new generation of innovative actions will have
- Co-funding of regional programmes of innovative actions
and the pilot projects that result from this.
- Accompanying measures:
support for the sharing of experiences and the creation of networks between regions.
Organisation of competitions to identify and develop best practices.
Strategic themes of the innovative actions 2000-2006
proposal for a programme must contain a strategy, which the different players
of the region have agreed on, to define innovative actions. This strategy is the
framework for the implementation of individual projects, the transfer of results
within the Objective 1 and 2 programmes co-funded by the ERDF in the regions concerned
and the exchange of experiences between regions. The strategy may be based on
the strategic themes proposed by the Commission or a combination of these themes,
whichever is best suited to the specific needs of each region.
has reduced the number of strategic themes from eight for the period 1994-1999
to three for the period 2000-2006. These three themes are:
economy based on knowledge and technological innovation: helping the least favoured
regions raise their technological level
or strengthening of networks of cooperation between businesses or business groups,
research centres and universities, organisations responsible for improving the
quality of human resources, financial circles, specialised consultants, etc.
Mutual exchanges of personnel between research centres, universities and businesses,
SMEs in particular.
- Dissemination of research results and technological
adaptation to SMEs.
- Establishment of technological strategies for regions
including pilot projects.
- Support for business incubators linked to
universities and research centres; encouragement of spin-offs of businesses created
by academic centres or large firms geared towards innovation and technology.
Support systems for joint scientific and technological projects between SMEs,
universities and research centres.
- Contribution to the development of
new financial instruments (risk capital) for start-up companies.
eEuropeRegio: the information society at the service of regional development
- Establish innovative strategies for the region and promote
the creation of information society partnerships;
- Improve digital and
mobile services for young people, the elderly, the disabled and health-care;
Encourage SMEs to include electronic commerce in their development strategy and
find solutions suited to their personnel's information technology training needs;
Identify and develop specific areas to test innovative ways of using information
- Provide public access to the Internet and to digital
applications and multimedia resources (eg. concept of public Internet access points);
Use and test advanced digital technologies (eg. access to the Internet by radio
or satellite) for isolated or remote rural areas.
identity and sustainable development: promoting regional cohesion and competitiveness
by introducing an integrated approach to economic, environmental, cultural and
- Support for micro-businesses
in the non-industrial sector or in the sector of traditional production, with
a view to improving their technological level in order to achieve better integration
in the market;
- Development of cultural and ecological tourism;
Support for small business start-ups in the innovative fields of the media and
- Development of new forms of local services;
of new relations between the public and private sectors in order to make optimal
use of existing resources and infrastructures;
- Assistance for micro-businesses
interested in benefiting from research activities in their region;
of systems for environmental management, the adoption of clean technologies, the
recycling of waste and the economic use of energy.
Nature and amount of the aid
The budget foreseen
for the innovative actions 2000-2006 corresponds to 0.4 % of the annual ERDF budget.
In total, the budget allocated to innovative actions for the entire
period 2000-2006 amounts to some 450 millions euros.
The annual amount
of funding for the ERDF innovative actions for the period 2000-2006 is determined
on the basis of the appropriations agreed at the European Council in Berlin and
in accordance with the budget appropriations approved each year.
of 6 % of the total amount may be used for the sharing of experiences, the creation
of networks between regions and the organisation of competitions. The remainder
of the budget is to be used to co-fund regional programmes for innovative actions.
Financial contribution from the European Union
Commission is funding up to 50% of the cost of the selected regional programmes
for innovative actions. However, in the Objective 1 areas, the Commission may
fund up to 80%, and in Objective 2 areas in duly justified cases where the programme
is of special interest to the Community the Commission may fund up to 60% of the
Selected regional programmes will each be allocated between 300,000
and 3 million euros.
The Commission is funding up to 50% of the cost of specific
programmes for the creation of network activities involving at least five regions
in at least five Member States.
The guidelines for the
ERDF innovative actions are available on the Internet:
Innovative actions 1994-1999 and documentation on the new innovative actions on
Panorama" Magazine, DG Regional Policy, April 2001, in 11 languages.
Additional sources of information
the "Information Society" strand
Commission, DG REGIO CSM2 01/112
Rue de la Loi 200, B-1049 Brussels
+32 2 296 24 73
the "Technological Innovation" strand
Commission, DG REGIO CSM2 01/158
Rue de la Loi 200, B-1049 Brussels
+32 2 296 24 73
the "Regional Identity" strand
DG REGIO CSM2 02/124
Rue de la Loi 200, B-1049 Brussels
Fax: +32 2 296 24
last update: 07/01