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The European Union is one of the most prosperous economic zones in the world, but economic and social disparities among its Member States and among its regions are important. The regional policy seeks to strengthen the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the Union.
Cohesion Policy - The amounts available
For the current period (2000-2006), EUR 213 billion has been earmarked for the Cohesion Policy for the 15 Member States. In addition, about EUR 22 billion in preaccession aid, and another EUR 22 billion in structural interventions for the new Member States in the period 2004–06, will be spent within the Union’s adjusted financial perspectives. Most of the funding is being spent through multiannual development programmes via the Structural Funds, managed jointly by Commission services, the Member States and regional authorities.
The Structural Funds
Each of the four existing Structural Funds has its own specific thematic area.
Other financial instruments exist in addition to these Structural Funds, including notably the Cohesion Fund.
The Cohesion Fund
The Cohesion Fund helps the least prosperous Member States whose gross national product (GNP) per capita is below 90% of the EU-average (since 1/5/2004 Greece, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) to reduce economic and social disparities and to stabilise their economies. It finances up to 85 % of eligible expenditure of major projects involving the environment and transport infrastructure.
Projects to be eligible must belong to one of the two categories:
a) Environment projects helping to achieve the objectives of the EC treaty. The Fund gives priority to drinking-water supply, treatment of wastewater and disposal of solid waste. Reforestation, erosion control and nature conservation measures are also eligible.
b) Transport infrastructure projects establishing or developing transport infrastructure as identified in the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN) guidelines.
There has to be an appropriate funding balance between transport infrastructure projects and environment projects.
Cohesion Policy 2007-13
The package of Regulations and the Community Strategic Guidelines have now been adopted by the Council with a total budget of €308 billion (2004 prices). The following document shows the points of environmental relevance.
The full texts of the Regulations are found on DG REGIO's homepage.
Environment and Cohesion Policy
Environment DG's task is to ensure integration of the environment into the fields of regional policy via the Structural Funds (including Community initiatives), the Cohesion Fund as well as TENs or the EIB.
The European Network of Environmental Authorities for the Cohesion Policy (ENEA) has been reactivated, and it brings together experts from environmental administrations, international organisations such as the Regional Environmental Centre, and environmental NGOs such as World Wildlife Fund, Birdlife International and Bankwatch.
E N E A: The European Network of Environmental Authorities for the Cohesion Policy
1) DATES OF MEETINGS
2) WORKING GROUPS
3) IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
4) OTHER ITEMS
In order to help the Environmental Authorities of the New Member States to better deal with the administrative procedures and environmental information required for the approval of projects submitted either under the Cohesion Fund or ERDF (large projects), DG ENV organised a series of seminars. These seminars took place in all new Member States between end of February 2005 and May 2005.