Today, the Commission adopted a Communication on the contribution of the five European Structural & Investment Funds (ESI Funds) to the EU's growth strategy, the Investment Plan and the Commission's priorities over the next decade.
The report also includes the outcomes of the negotiations with all the Member States on Partnership Agreements and programmes and the key challenges per country.
As well as the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the ESI Funds are the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Cohesion Fund (CF) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "There is a huge potential to combine ESI Funds and the Investment Plan's European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), but local and regional authorities may not be aware. That is why the Commission will soon issue guidelines on the complementarity of the Funds, to make sure Member States make full use of these new opportunities."
Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan said: "The Rural Development Programme is about jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness in rural Europe. The goal is to empower rural areas and communities to meet the wide range of challenges and opportunities that face them in the 21st century: economic, social and environmental. With smart and strategic investment, the RDPs will drive generational renewal and create the conditions for a vibrant rural economy, society and environment."
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: "The ESI funds are increasingly needed as national and regional investments are declining. They robustly support Europe's return to lasting prosperity, by targeting the most promising sectors, bringing more cohesion and convergence in the EU and helping regions and cities capitalize on the talent and ideas of their people. It is now up to the Member States to efficiently manage and invest the Funds, so they can reach the objectives detailed in the Communication."
Last week's approval of the last of 118 national and regional Rural Development Programmes, with the cumulative impact that they provide for rural areas, should be seen in the context of complementing the measures provided by the other ESI funds.
For example, over the period 2014-2020, in addition to the near 20 million people in rural areas who will have new or improved ICT services or infrastructure with the support of the Rural Development Programmes, almost 15 million households will have access to high-speed broadband thanks to the European Regional Development Fund.
Taking all five funds together, the Funds will invest €121 billion in research & innovation, ICT and support to small businesses throughout Europe. Two million companies will be directly supported by the Funds, to boost their competitiveness and increase their research and innovation capacity.
Reformed for the 2014-2020 period, the ESI Funds have a clear focus on four key growth-generating sectors: research & innovation, digital technologies, the support to the low-carbon economy and to small businesses.
Performance-oriented and in line with the European Semester and Country Specific Recommendations, ESI Funds investments will establish the right conditions for quality projects to flourish, for businesses to thrive and for the people's everyday life to improve, all leading to a new start in Europe.
In 2014-2020, €454 billion from the EU budget - €637 billion with national co-financing included - will be invested in Europe's cities and regions through more than 500 ESI Funds programmes. The ESI Funds are an important part of public investments in the EU; between 2014 and 2016, the ESI Funds are expected to account for approximately 14% of total public investment on average, and to reach up to 70% in some Member States.
As foreseen by the Article 16 of the Common Provisions Regulation, this Communication presents the main results of the negotiations between Member States, their partners, including regional and local actors, and the Commission on the Partnership Agreements and the programmes. It includes an overview of the key issues for each Member State in Annex II, while Annex I focuses on the Interregional cooperation programmes.
To ensure maximum transparency for the public, the Commission is launching today a new Open Data Platform for ESI Funds to show the progress in the implementation of ESI Funds programmes.
Factsheets on the contribution of ESI Funds to the Commission's priorities: