The Commission has issued a background paper on the role of cohesion policy in supporting employment and growth.
The European Union's cohesion policy – funded with EUR 346 billion from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund - represents 35 % of the Union's budget over the period 2007-2013. Together with the co-financing provided by Member States, cohesion policy accounts for a very significant proportion of public investment in Europe.
As part of the essential economic policy package of macro-economic and fiscal stability, structural reforms and growth enhancing measures, EU cohesion policy is making a significant contribution to investments in employment and growth in Europe.
The policy is now delivering significant results. For the ESF, a high level of participation has been maintained since 2009: over 15 million participants annually. Among them, from 2007 to 2011, there were 12.5 million participants on specific actions to support access to employment. As a result, 2.4 million found a job within 6 months of completing the intervention, a significant achievement given the economic downturn.
SMEs, business support and innovation for growth are in particular key investment areas in all Member States supported by the Structural Funds, and notably the ERDF. SME and other enterprises benefit from both direct investments into business and from other contracts and services funded through EU cohesion policy.
The future programming period of 2014-2020 will strengthen the coherence of investment priorities with the priorities for structural reforms and the need to promote growth and jobs to make progress towards the Europe 2020 goals.