ESI Funds Open Data Platform
Frequently Asked Questions
1.1 What are the European Structural and Investments Funds (ESI Funds)?
The ESI Funds are a family of five EU funding instruments that provide structural and investment financing across the EU. The budget provides EUR 454 Billion in the period 2014-2020.
While the five funds address different stakeholders and sectors they share two important commonalities
- The funds are dedicated to support growth and job creation and are aligned with the Europe 2020 strategy and the Commission priority for Jobs, Growths and Investment;
- All 5 funds are delivered under shared management, that is managed by the Commission in partnership with National and regional public authorities in the Member States.
For more information about the ESI Funds and the individual funds :
- European Structural and Investments Funds (legal acts)
- Cohesion Fund
- European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development - EAFRD
- European Maritime & Fisheries Fund - EMFF
- European Regional Development Fund - ERDF
- European Social Fund - ESF
This platform also covers the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) which is a specific funding resource under the ESF Regulation dedicated to fighting youth unemployment.
1.2 What themes are financed by the ESI Funds?
European Structural and Investment Funds, support 11 key themes, also known as "thematic objectives":
- Strengthening research, technological development and innovation
- Enhancing access to, and use and quality of information and communication technologies (ICT)
- Enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
- Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors
- Promoting climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management
- Preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency
- Promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures
- Promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility
- Promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination
- Investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and lifelong learning
- Enhancing institutional capacity of public authorities and stakeholders and efficient public administration
The ESF Funds contribute to these high level themes in different ways and in different intensities. Also the intensity of support to each theme differs from country to country in line with differences in their needs and priorities.
A share of financing is also set aside for technical assistance (to run, monitor, control and evaluate the programmes), specific allocations to Outermost regions and “discontinued measures” from 2007-2013 under the EAFRD.
1.3 What is an ESI Funded Programme?
One dictionary definition given of a "programme" is a "a set of related measures or activities with a particular long-term aim". This is a good description of an ESI Funded investment programme. ESI funded programmes start life as a proposal presented by EU member States or regions to the Commission. Following discussion of the investment objectives, strategy, budget allocations, monitoring system, performance measures and delivery and control mechanisms the programme is adopted and then implemented over the programme period (multi annual). The ESI Funds Open Data Platform presents information on financial and achievement plans and implementation.
1.4 Where does the data come from? Who generates it?
The data included in the platform comes for the 533 national, regional or interregional programmes adopted under the ESI Funds by the Commission following discussions with the relevant national and regional authorities.
The National and regional public authorities proposed the financial allocations and the indicators for achievements which were then discussed and agreed with the Commission.
The data is exchanged by the national and regional authorities and the Commission through a common IT platform – SFC2014.
In July 2016 the Instrument of Pre Accession - Cross Border Cooperation (IPA-CBC) programmes were included in the finances dataset and the 10 additional programmes concerned are listed under the relevant EU Member States.
1.5 Which funding periods are covered on the platform?
The platform is mainly focussed on the 2014-2020 funding period and provides common information covering all five ESI funds as well as the Youth Employment Initiative.
It also provides links to some material of the Cohesion Policy funds 2007-2013 (Cohesion Fund, ERDF, and ESF).
For ERDF / Cohesion Fund other datasets also covering earlier programme periods are available on this "Data for Research" page.
1.6 Can I access the underlying data?
Yes. The data that is behind the ESI Funds visualisations can be accessed and downloaded from the platform. Use the "Explore and Share this Data" function to access it, or go to the “Catalogue” on the home page for a full list of datasets and a search engine.
1.7 How can I find out more about the different data management tools available on the platform? How can I become an user?
The ESI Funds Open Data Platform was developed with open data services provider Socrata. Socrata provides open data services and cloud-based data storage to a wide range of public authorities.
We recommend the Socrata on line support material.
To become a user (and be able to create your own visualisations, etc.) please enroll from this webpage: https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/login
b. ESIF Finances
2.1 What is the scope of the information on finances?
- Data on finances planned:This financial information is set out in the programme documents adopted by the Commission and made available in a common format across all funds. The data is cumulative and comes from the financial tables of each programme. It includes information on EU and National financing. We have made available information on the financial allocation by "Thematic Objective" (see Q&A 2.3 below). The current data has been updated to reflect the status of the programmes in February 2017.
- Data on finances implemented: This data presents cumulative information from the programmes on their progress 1) deciding on the selected projects to deliver the objectives of the programmes and 2) on the actual investment costs declared by the projects to the programmes (except for EAFRD where this is not reported).
- The current data has been updated in February 2017 reflecting the financial data reported up until end-2016 for 4 of 5 funds (the 2016 financial data on the EMFF will become available only with the annual reports on 30 June 2017);
- For Cohesion Policy funds (ERDF-ESF-Cohesion Fund) cumulative updates on finances implemented are received 3 times a year – 31 January, 31 July and 31 October. That data will be published on the Platform within 4-6 weeks receipt;
- The data on finances implemented are reported by “priority axis” (the main investment pillars or envelopes in the programmes) in total public cost (not split EU/National);
- A full ventilation of implemented finances by themes (thematic objectives) is not available (see also http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/faq/about_open_data/#16 ).
2.2 Will you provide information on EU payments to the programmes by fund?
Yes. This dataset - ESIF 2014-2020 EU payments (daily update) - was published at end March 2017 to provide information on the Total EU planed amounts, pre-financing and interim payments. Relevant visualisations of that data are being prepared and will be made available by mid-2017.
2.3 Where can I find more detailed information on the actions financed?
The eleven main "Thematic Objectives" represent the high level objectives for the ESI Funds that contribute to the EU objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and around which the programmes frame their investment plans. Depending on the ESI Fund there are more detailed lists of objectives and spending areas.
For instance, for the ERDF/Cohesion Fund and ESF/YEI the most detailed information available on the planned investments come from the "categorisation" data.
The planned categorisation data was provided by each Managing authority during the preparation of the adopted programme documents. The values are "estimated" by the programmes based on the themes and the actions they plan to finance with a view to contributing to the programme policy objectives. The system is an information system (rather than an accounting / audit system) and is valuable for understanding trends and for targeting studies and evaluations. The 2014-2020 planned categorisation data is available in this dataset: https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/dataset/ESIF-2014-2020-categorisation-ERDF-ESF-CF/9fpg-67a4
This public guidance document provides some more background.
In addition to information on planned amounts, each programme reports once a year on the progress in selecting and implementing projects using the categorisation codes. That data is reported cumulatively on an annual basis (last reported to end 2016). We will publish a dataset comparing the selected and expenditure later in 2017.
2.4 Where can I find data on the EU amounts dedicated to addressing climate change (climate tracking)?
2.5 Where can I find information on the planned use of Financial Instruments?
2.6 Where can information on the beneficiaries of EU funding be found? What sort of details are available on the beneficiaries of EU funding?
In the context of "shared" management it is the Member States that select and monitoring the millions of projects supported. They must also publish lists of beneficiaries.
The Commission webpages listed below provide direct links to national lists of the beneficiaries:
- European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund
- European Social Fund
- European Agricultural and Rural Development Fund
- European Maritime and Fisheries Fund
The linked websites are managed by the respective Member State under their sole responsibility. The information provided is subject to regular updates.
Under the rules governing the implementation of the funds 2014-2020 the Member States must publish the name of the beneficiary, the activity funded and the amount of public funding allocated. The specific requirements by fund are linked on the website above. For instance for the Cohesion Policy funds (ERDF/ESF/Cohesion Fund) see Article 115 and Annex XII of EU No 1303/2013 - for the full list of details to be provided.
Separately, the KEEP project gathers and publishes data on the projects and beneficiaries of European Union programmes dedicated to cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation within the EU, and between Member States and neighbouring countries. KEEP is the only source of aggregated project information regarding those programmes (including Interreg-IPA cross-border and ENPI/ENI cross-border programmes). The KEEP database covers the 2000-2006 and 2007-2013 periods and has now been extended to cover the 2014-2020 period. The KEEP database is searchable by different terms and criteria allowing users a very large variety of search levels and results, from very high level European views of the projects of these programmes to very detailed views of, for example, contacts of lead partners or the specific objective of a programme to which a project contributes.
During 2017 an independent research project has launched http://www.subsidystories.eu website. The project's objectives is to increase transparency of EU Funding at project level by unravelling how the European Structural Investment Funds are spent. The project collected and standardised all available beneficiary lists for the ERDF, ESF and CF for the 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 funding periods. These funds are partially funded by the EU and the Member States and allocated by regional authorities to local beneficiaries.(Project Disclaimer: subsidystories.eu presents the data as it is available on the regional and national portals, unavailability of data on the portals might distort the total numbers on the website. Please note that large amounts of data were scraped (from the web and PDFs), which could have led to errors. Several different amounts are present in the data, so please compare carefully).
2.7 Can I drill the data down at Regional level?
Specific programme pages were published in July 2016. These pages provide finances and achievement details by theme for each programme. The data is available through the programme's country page.
2.8 What does project selection mean?
In order to deliver the planned objectives, the programmes select projects (operations) in line with the each programme's strategy.
When programmes report financial and indicator data on "projects selected" this implies the following :
- The relevant selection procedures have been applied by the programme authority;
- A decision has been taken to support the specific project;
- The programme and the project promoter have agreed on the funding and the other details such as indicator forecasts, monitoring arrangement, etc.
2.9 Why is there no data on “finances implemented” on the Thematic Pages?
The reporting of financial data by Member States for the funds ERDF, CF and ESF does not provide a complete breakdown by theme (thematic objective). The format of the information reported provides financial data by "priority axis".
A large fraction of priority axis cover multiple themes (i.e. such as priority axes investing in integrated urban development strategies).
In the data on “finances implemented" the planned investment and the total cost of selected projects can only be partially broken down by theme (unlike the "Finances planned" presented on the theme pages).
The available thematic data is present in the original dataset in the catalogue and the share of planned and project selected amounts found under the heading "Multiple Thematic Objectives" can be identified.
c. ESI Funds Achievements – Indicators
3.1 What do you mean by achievements?
The 'Achievements' sections present in indicator tiles information on the common indicators for the different funds.
The five ESI Funds have separate sets of common indicators, measuring the direct outputs or effects of the investments planned across programmes and countries. The indicators are listed in the Fund regulations and defined in specific guidance documents. The funds have separate sets of indicators because they are mainly focused on different policy fields, different stakeholders or specific different sectors.
The indicator tiles present 1) the targets set in the adopted programmes and information reported annually by the programmes on implementation – 2) the indicator forecasts linked to decided selected projects and 3) the implemented values.
With the first data reported on implementation received in 2016 the dataset on achievements now provides the following information on each indicator:
- Planned: achievements (targets)
- Decided: (forecasts for selected projects)
- Implemented values implemented by the projects
3.2 What do the indicators measure?
More than 100 common indicators have been selected for use on the platform. These indicators represent common activities within each fund, across many Member States. They do not however capture all activities or outputs in all cases. For the ERDF for example programme specific (non-common) indicators are also widely used to capture direct outputs.
Fund specific common indicators fall into two groups:
- Common output indicators, measuring the direct output of the investments projects (specific lists exist for all funds);
- Common result indicators, measuring a benefit or result that happens after the project has been completed (these are defined in particular for EAFRD, ESF/YEI, EMFF).
For the ESF and YEI, participants should be understood as "participations" similarly to other widely used terms such as 'users', 'spectators' or 'airline passengers'. One participant may participate in several operations. At the same time, an ESF participant returning to the same operation is not counted multiple times. Moreover, indirect participations are excluded from the calculations.
The definitions for all these indicators are provided in the Fund specific guidance below:
3.3 How were the indicators defined?
The indicators were developed based on previous experience and on discussions with national and international experts over several years.
For example, in the case of the ERDF/Cohesion Fund a discussion was launched in 2011 with an international panel of experts to discuss how the effects and impacts of ERDF/Cohesion Fund programmes could be better monitored and evaluated. This was followed up with discussions of the Commission proposals with the Member States.
3.4 Why are there no common indicators across the funds?
The 5 funds have specific lists of indicators because, by and large, they are focused on different policy fields, they have different policy objectives, with different stakeholders or they focus on specific sectors.
The practice of fund specific common indicators has developed over time and has been improved for the 2014-2020 programmes.
3.5 Can I compare the investments and achievement figures between Member States?
There is insufficient information available to determine "unit costs" across so many different indicators and national contexts.
Even at the most detailed level at which the data is available it is not possible to draw direct comparisons or conclusions about the investment levels and the expected achievements (output targets). There are many reasons for this:
- Some indicators capture measurements that cover a wide variety of situations. Example: The firms supported can be large enterprises or micro enterprises; the financial support may be EUR 1 million or EUR 1 000.
- The form and intensity of support can vary widely depending on the region or country. In some countries grant financing may be available at 80% of costs while in others only loan financing is offered depending on other financing possibilities.
- In relation to infrastructure: the design and construction standards and the climatic conditions can vary strongly with an impact on the costs of construction.
- The costs of services and materials that make up the projects may vary across the EU.
- The national or regional economic environment in which the results are pursued can differ largely. Example: actions to improve employment rates are pursued in very different labour market conditions.
- Qualitative outcomes related to the same result can vary among programmes. Example: the sustainability of employment varies across economies.
- Some planned achievements capture the totality of the finances in a specific programme or priority, some others do not. In particular, in ESF programmes common indicators were used to a very limited extent to express planned achievements; programme specific indicators were more widely used.
3.6 Where can I find further information on the period 2007-2013 and earlier programme periods?
A list of datasets related to the 2007-2013 period is available in the Catalogue
In relation to ERDF and Cohesion Fund you can find various dataset on the "Data for Researchers" page.
For the ESF/YEI: Data and figures
d. Future developments
4.1 Do you have plans to further develop the site?
Yes. The Commission plans to progressively develop the site.
In particular the financial data on selected operations (reporting varies, at least annually for EMFF, and 3 times a year for Cohesion Fund/ERDF/ESF/YEI. Progress in the achievement of indicators is reported by programmes annually.
Further datasets will also be added to catalogue. The main developments that have taken place over time are listed below in Q&A 4.2.
4.2 How has the platform developed since December 2015?
- The "finances" planned and "achievements" (indicator targets) datasets were published for the first time (with November 2015 data, with some programmes still in draft form);
- Visualisations were presented at EU, Theme, Country and Fund levels;
- A dataset on Cohesion fund-ERDF-ESF-YEI was published in the ODP catalogue.
- The finances planned dataset was updated to include the IPA-CBC programmes and to exclusively reflect adopted programmes as at June 2016;
- The visualisations for all 530 ESI Fund programmes and 10 IPA-CBC programmes of finances and achievement targets (common indicators) when available were opened and are available from the lists provided on each "country page";
- New visualisations of the finances dataset were added: filtered visualisations of: (1) the finances allocated by EU/national/total finance, and (2) on the theme page a filter to visualise absolute amounts or relative shares;
- For the EMFF, programme targets for 11 of the 18 common indicators were made available when used by the national programmes.
- The dataset on "finances planned" was updated to reflect adopted programmes as of November 2016;
- A new dataset was added for "finances implemented" showing financial data reported by the programmes on the total cost of decided allocations to selected projects along with the spending (eligible expenditure) declared by projects to the programme managers;
- Visualisations were added of the financial data on project selection and expenditure on the ground based on the data reported by the programmes (November 2016);
- The "achievements" dataset was extended to include the first information on progress towards the planned targets, forecasts linked to decided selected projects and actually implemented values.
- Publication of the December 2016 financial data for Cohesion fund, EAFRD, ERDF, and ESF-YEI;
- New adapted visualisation for the ESF – YEI common indicators showing implemented values reported and composite tiles of the indicators related to employment, age and education attainment status of participants;
- Updated "Finances planned" data, reflecting programmes adopted in February 2017. That data also now presents the total budget of the Youth employment initiative (YEI), including both the YEI specific allocation and the ESF matching allocation under YEI. The other ESF planned amounts have been reduced accordingly. The national co-financing for the ESF matching allocation can also be visualised. No co-financing is required for the YEI specific allocation.
4.3 How can I ask for further data that is not available?
Check these pages the ERDF/Cohesion Fund "Data for Researchers" page.
For the ESF/YEI: Data and figures
Contact: REGIO WEBMASTER
4.4 Are there other Open Data tools and sources on the ESI Funds?
All Member States have an obligation to regularly present information on the beneficiaries of the EU supported programmes. See the answer to Question 2.6 above.
In addition the Commission is aware of the following
- Some Member States maintain their own national platforms presenting detailed information on the EU programmes in their country. Examples include
- The EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) has developed an "ESIF Viewer" tool. It is a based on data provided by the Commission on the planned investments in research and innovation linked with Regional Smart Specialisation strategies: http://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/esif-viewer