Cohesion for growth and employment
Every household in the French region of Auvergne now has access to high-speed broadband thanks to a project co-financed by the ERDF.
In order to face public-sector spending cuts, the ‘Raising teachers’ project offered retraining opportunities to some 22 000 educators in Latvia between 2009 and 2012.
Winner of the RegioStars Awards 2012, the O4O (‘Older people for older people’) project developed alternative ways of providing support and services for older citizens from rural areas of northern Europe by mobilising the elderly to help their peers.
Modernisation of the sewerage network in Brno (Czech Republic) continued. The upgraded system will reduce the amount of pollution discharged into local waterways and make it possible to connect more than 3 000 additional inhabitants.
‘Cohesion for growth and employment’ covers the Structural Funds, i.e. the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF), as well as the Cohesion Fund (CF).
It relates essentially to the following policy areas:
- regional policy, for the ERDF and the CF, and
- employment and social affairs, for the ESF.
The principal objective of cohesion policy is to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion between regions and Member States of the EU by providing additional resources for those regions and countries whose economic development is lagging behind. The Structural Funds also aim at strengthening regions’ competitiveness and attractiveness, as well as employment, and at strengthening cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation. The resources available are concentrated on promoting economic convergence, in particular on sustainable growth, competitiveness and employment in line with the Europe 2020 strategy. These resources are also essential tools to fight financial, economic and social crises.
|Regional competitiveness and employment||ERDF||ESF|
|European territorial cooperation||ERDF|
The CF has a major role to play in reducing disparities across the EU by helping the least-developed Member States integrate into the EU’s single market.
The CF mainly invests in large infrastructure projects which form part of national development programmes for transport and environment, for example:
- investment to comply with environmental standards;
- energy projects which present a clear benefit to the environment, e.g. promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy;
- investment in TEN-Ts, as well as urban and low-carbon transport systems.
EU countries with a GNI of less than 90 % of the EU average are eligible for support from the CF. Most of these are countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007.
Evaluating the effectiveness of projects funded by the CF presents various challenges, not the least of which is that many projects are only concluded a number of years after the initial funding period.
While co-financed projects achieved their aims in terms of improvements in the transport network and environmental infrastructure, their effect on the economic development and cohesion of the countries concerned is difficult to assess. This is because these effects were not spelled out in detail and because it is too soon for impacts to come through. Member States were not obliged to report on the unit costs of the projects co-financed in the period.
Over a longer period, in the transport sector, CF helped co-finance the building of 1 274 km of roads and 950 km of railways, and the reconstruction of 3 000 km of roads and 3 800 km of railways.
Projects in the environment sector from 2000 onwards, complemented with operations co-financed from the ERDF, improved the quality of water for 20 million people and provided connection to wastewater treatment systems for 23.5 million people.
The ex post evaluations of projects should be undertaken sufficiently long after their completion to give enough time for their effects on end objectives to come through as a normal part of the evaluation process.
A total of EUR 9 626 million was spent on cohesion in 2012.
The scheme to renovate public buildings in Lithuania is designed to reduce their energy consumption. High energy consumption arising especially from the inefficiency of energy performance in buildings built prior to the 1993 energy efficiency standards is the main problem in the management and exploitation of these buildings. The current energy characteristics of such buildings do not guarantee effective consumption of energy, and result in high running costs. The renovation of public buildings will reduce pollution from the primary fuel burnt while producing electricity and heat.
Of the 550 buildings expected to be financed, the majority — 313 buildings — are educational or preschool buildings. Other buildings to be renovated are run by public medical, custodial, sport and cultural institutions.
EU contribution: EUR 269.6 million
For more details about the project visit:
Cohesion policy, and in particular ERDF programmes and investment, is continuing to deliver in Member States, even in this period of crisis. It had yielded real results up until the end of 2012, across many of the EU’s policy priorities — investing in growth when it was most desperately needed. It has provided support to new innovative business and created good sustainable jobs for the future, giving remote regions broadband, tackling the brain drain and building vital transport links that contribute to regions’ competitiveness. Equally, the policy has shown itself capable of great flexibility, responding to the crisis and adapting to the changing needs of people and their communities.
The achievements over the first 5 years of the current programming period show how the funds are already a key delivery mechanism of the Europe 2020 strategy. Among the achievements, it is worth mentioning the following.
- almost 400 000 jobs created so far, of which 200 000 since 2010; this includes the creation of more than 15 600 research jobs and nearly 170 000 jobs in SMEs;
- over 142 000 SMEs supported;
- over 53 000 start-ups supported (28 000 since 2010);
- nearly 1.9 million additional people having broadband access;
- over 53 000 RTD projects and nearly 16 000 cooperation projects between enterprises and research institutions supported.
- over 23 000 renewable energy projects implemented;
- total greenhouse emissions reduced by 33 400 kt;
- about 3 000 megawatts of additional electricity generation capacity created from renewables since 2007;
- nearly 3.4 million people served by improved urban transport.
- over 19 000 educational infrastructure projects supported, benefiting 3.4 million students.
A total of EUR 25 716 million was spent on ERDF in 2012.
The Green Building Cluster of Lower Austria connects construction and building professionals with researchers to address challenges such as climate change and to enable innovation through cooperation. It has forged synergies between local enterprises, R & D institutes and skilled craftsmen. This has stimulated innovation in the refurbishment of buildings, promoted the use of low and sustainable energy technologies and resulted in healthier interiors and more comfortable standards of living. The cluster has a current membership of over 200 partners, more than 80 % of which are SMEs.
The economic impact has been significant. In its 10 years of activity in the region, 273 projects have been carried out with a total value of EUR 34 million, creating an additional 253 jobs with a total added value of EUR 19.3 million to the Lower Austria region.
EU contribution: EUR 937 000
For more details about the project visit:
The ESF is Europe’s main instrument for supporting jobs, helping people get better jobs and ensuring fairer job opportunities for all EU citizens. It invests in Europe’s human capital — its workers, its young people and all those seeking a job.
The EU is committed to creating more and better jobs and a socially inclusive society. These goals are at the core of the Europe 2020 strategy. The current economic crisis is making this an even more demanding challenge. The ESF is playing an important role in meeting Europe’s goals and in mitigating the consequences of the economic crisis — especially the rise in unemployment and poverty levels.
The Commission and EU Member States in partnership set the ESF’s priorities and management. The ESF’s priorities are: to boost the adaptability of workers with new skills and enterprises with new ways of working; to focus on improving access to employment by helping young people make the transition from school to work, or training less-skilled jobseekers to improve their job prospects; and to help people from disadvantaged groups to get jobs. This is part of enhancing ‘social inclusion’ — a sign of the important role that employment plays in helping people integrate better into society and everyday life. The financial crisis has led to a redoubling of efforts to keep people in work, or help them return to work quickly if they lose their jobs.
A total of EUR 10 712 million was spent on ESF in 2012.
Training of professional workers in education in the field of strengthening the competences for the prevention of violence in the period between 2010 and 2012.
To protect children and young people from the devastating consequences of violence, teachers and families must join forces to act before it occurs. In Slovenia, a project provided training to education professionals, parents and volunteers to help them prevent violence and deal with violent incidents.
EU contribution: EUR 630 351
For more details about the project, visit: