For 2007-13, cohesion policy focuses on three main objectives:
Convergence – solidarity among regions
The aim is to reduce regional disparities in Europe by helping those regions whose per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is less than 75% of the EU to catch up with the ones which are better off.
Some regions in the EU as constituted before the two most recent enlargements are now above the 75% threshold simply because the EU average GDP has fallen with the addition of the newest member countries. Those regions still need help from the cohesion policy, so they now receive "phasing out" support until 2013.
Number of regions concerned: 101
Number of Europeans concerned: 170 million
Total amount: €283.3bn (81.5% of total budget)
Type of projects funded: improving basic infrastructure, helping businesses, water and waste treatment, high-speed internet connection, training, job creation, etc.
Regional Competitiveness and Employment
The aim is to create jobs by promoting competitiveness and making the regions concerned more attractive to businesses and investors.
This objective covers all regions in Europe not covered by the convergence objective. In other words, it is intended
- to help the richer regions perform even better with a view to creating an knock-on effect for the whole of the EU
- to encourage more balanced development in these regions by eliminating any remaining pockets of poverty.
Some regions, which used to be under the 75% threshold that would qualify them for inclusion in the convergence group, receive extra funding to help them "phase in" to their new objective.
Number of regions concerned: 172
Number of Europeans concerned: 330 million
Total amount: €55bn (16% of total budget)
Type of projects funded: development of clean transport, support for research centres, universities, small businesses and start-ups, training, job creation, etc.
European territorial cooperation
The aim is to encourage cooperation across borders - be it between countries or regions – that would not happen without help from the cohesion policy. In financial terms, the sums concerned are negligible in comparison with the other two objectives, but many countries and regions would like to see that change in future.
Number of regions concerned: all
Number of Europeans concerned: 500 million
Total amount: € 8.7bn (2.5% of total budget)
Type of projects funded: shared management of natural resources, risk protection, improving transport links, creating networks of universities, research institutes etc.
Which Funds support which objectives?
Objectives, Structural Funds and instruments 2007-2013