Ex Post Evaluation of the ERDF in Objectives 1 & 2 (2000-2006)

Work Package 9: Rural development

The ninth work package assesses the role and effect of the ERDF in supporting rural areas in 5 Member States and 5 regions.
Main findings:

  • In the 5 Member States examined, 28% of ERDF in Objective 1 and 24% in Objective 2 were spent in rural areas (20% and 35% in urban areas, the rest allocated to intermediate areas). Looking at expenditures per head, in Objective 1, the ERDF mainly focused on the weakest areas (weak rural and intermediate).
  • The ERDF funded various measures supporting both endogenous and exogenous growth of the regions and thus responding to the various needs of the regions. This flexibility allowed a cross-sector approach and enabled its adaptation to different contexts and consequently also to rural areas
  • The ERDF specialised more in transport, telecommunications, environment infrastructures and support to enterprises and R&D, less on social infrastructures, rural initiatives and regional governance, meanwhile its effects on the ground lacked visibility compared to other funds.

Main lessons learned:

  • No unique definition of rural areas can serve all policy purposes. Whether an area can be categorised as rural depends on the context and purpose of the analysis.
  • The ERDF supported regions with structural weaknesses independently of their rural, intermediate or urban character.
  • The institutional setting in the Member States and the regions in terms of the provision of information on the available EU funding and on procedures at regional level is very important for the uptake of the ERDF and for the perception of the population on the amount of support they receive from the EU.

Common strategies, instruments and structures for all funds help to avoid overlaps and to better coordinate the different funds contributing to rural development.

Policy questions

Should only one fund provide support to regional as well as rural/urban development to ensure strategy coherence ?

Should the ERDF focus on "local development" rather than on "rural", "urban" or "regional" development ?

Should indicators be designed to assess the cohesion policy contribution to rural development, and in this case, what would be the criteria for being a "rural area" ? At what level (local, regional, national, European) should these indicators be defined?


  • Executive Summary pdf de en fr
  • Terms of Reference pdf en
  • Inception report pdf en
  • Final report pdf en
  • Interim report
    • Vol 1. Methodology pdf en
    • Vol 2. National Case studies pdf en
  • Regional case studies
    • Pilot Case Study: Andalusia, Spain pdf en
    • Case Study: Southern Sweden pdf en
    • Case-Study: Centre Region, France pdf en
    • Case Study Świętokrzyskie Region, Poland pdf en
    • Case Study Saxony, Germany pdf en
  • Project case studies
    • Mini-Case Study: Guadalinfo, Spain pdf en
    • Mini-Case Study: Flöha, Germany pdf en
    • Mini-Case Study: Mål 2 Södra, Sweden pdf en
    • Mini-Case Study: Centre Region, France pdf en
    • Mini-case Study: Świętokrzyskie Region, Poland pdf en


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