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How do the Structural Funds work ?

Funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and other Structural Funds comes in the form of non-reimbursable assistance.

The financial assistance is channelled through development programmes, which are packages of measures that are eligible for support.

As soon as an agreement on the programme has been reached by the Commission and the Member State authorities, European money becomes available to meet the programme's aims. One of two financing mechanisms is used:

  • the Operational Programme: an individual programme that arises out of the Community support framework
  • the Single Programming Document: that combines the development strategy together with the programmes to be supported in a single agreement.

Practically speaking, however, the result is the same: European co-financing is made available to development projects that respond to national priorities agreed upon between the Member State and the European Commission.

Since the 1999 reform, the projects and measures financed by the programme budget are detailed in an additional document, the programming supplement, which is drawn up by the programme managers (or managing authorities) appointed by each Member State. The managing authority also selects the projects. It is this body therefore that the economic and social actors should contact if they wish to benefit from Structural Fund support.


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