The 2017 European Structural and Investment (ESI) Strategic report on the implementation of the funds has officially been published.
The Strategic report 2017 on the implementation of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds has now been published. It highlights what the five ESI funds, the EU's main investment tool, have achieved since the beginning of the programming period. In other words, it provides an overview of how Member States are implementing policy objectives and making progress in achieving them.
The report shows that, with a total amount of project selection now worth EUR 278 billion representing 44 % of the total financing available for the period, the implementation of the ESI Funds has taken off and is reaching cruising speed. More specifically, EUR 17.4 billion have been invested in projects supporting quality and lasting employment and labour mobility, reaching 4.2 million unemployed people.
Member States also reported good progress in implementing simplification measures, despite initial delays. A much greater number of e-cohesion measures, i.e. online procedures in the management of the funds, are now being deployed and simplified cost options are being used by a growing number of programmes.
Gender equality, non-discrimination, accessibility and sustainable development have been mainstreamed through the programmes, as specific project selection criteria are used in order to make sure that all funded projects apply and respect these horizontal principles. There is room for further use of this good practice in more programmes.
Overall, concrete improvements have been delivered to the lives of people across the EU in key areas such as economic development, employment, healthcare, accessibility or environmental protection, and the migration crisis.
It was also noted that, while progress is significant across most Member States and policy areas, a number of challenges still remain such as investments in ICT, the low-carbon economy and support to administrative capacity building for authorities and beneficiaries. More effort is needed to ensure that quality projects are selected and effectively implemented. To this end, the Commission will keep assisting local authorities in facing new challenges through advisory services, capacity building, training and sharing of good practice, among other measures. As for Member States, they now need to make sure that the committed funds are disbursed while maintaining the positive progress in project selection.