Cohesion policy is one of the European Union's most visible policies. All 27 EU countries benefit from cohesion policy through its three funds - the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Social Fund – to:
It also helps Europe's 271 regions to tackle the challenges posed by globalisation, climate change and demographic trends.
Funding from cohesion policy has brought benefits to millions of EU citizens, not only by creating jobs and fostering the right conditions for growth, but also by investing in infrastructure modernisation, environmental improvements, support to business, and in people's skills, education and training.
Capturing the impact and results of cohesion policy is critical to its ongoing success. Letting the public know what is achieved with the investment from the policy is key to its transparency and accountability. It also offers the opportunity to learn from good practice elsewhere, and to continuously improve projects and programmes.
(all data relates to period from 2000 to 2006)
Impact on the economy
Rapidly increasing income in the poorest regions: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in the EU's least developed regions (the so-called Objective 1 regions) grew from 66% of the EU-25 average in 2000 to 71% in 2006
Creating additional jobs: an estimated an estimated 1.4 million jobs were created, around 1 million of which in enterprise.
Helping to reduce regional disparities : In levels of development between the most and least developed regions – the index of disparities fell by roughly a sixth thanks to sustained high growth in the less developed regions
Impact on the environment
Improving the environment : Cohesion Policy made an important contribution to help regions comply with EU environmental standards. For example, 20 million more people have been connected to modern water supply systems, 23 million more people have waste water treatment
More sustainable programmes: Half the Member States included indicators and targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into their Cohesion Policy programmes for the 2007-2013 period
Impact on transport infrastructure
This means that 77% of motorways in the Cohesion Countries, and some 56% of high speed rail. were co-financed by cohesion policy.
As a result, average motorway density in Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal went from 90% of the EU15 average in 2000 to 111% in 2006. The challenge remains in the EU10, where motorway density stands at 35% of the EU15 average.
Impact on enterprise
Supporting business development : 230,000 SMEs received financial support (mainly grants but also loans and venture capital) and a further 1.1 million received advice and support for networking, leading to an estimated 1,000,000 jobs created at the EU level.
Impact on research
These country factsheets provide an overview of some of the key achievements of Cohesion Policy, the main priorities for investment for 2007-2013, and summary information on territorial co-operation programmes:
Evaluations and reports
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