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.
A user guide to help users navigate the platform, find datasets and charts, visualise and export data, is available.
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
1.8 Can programmes be uniquely identified? What is a CCI code?
Each programme has a unique CCI code. The structure of these codes is explained in this document.
1.9 Can programmes be associated with NUTS-2 or NUTS-3 regions?
Programmes can cover one or more than one NUTS-2 region. Under each fund there are programmes covering NUTS-2 regions in different combinations:
- ERDF: National, regional (NUTS2), cross-border and trans national
- Cohesion Fund and EMFF: National programmes
- ESF/YEI and EAFRD: National and regional (NUTS2) programmes
This “lookup” dataset provides a mapping of the 2014-2020 cohesion policy programmes to NUTS 2 regions as set out in the programme texts.
Therefore planned EU resources are not systematically allocated to NUTS-2 territories (although the bulk of resources in some countries are so allocated, i.e. Germany, France …).
In the financial data (categorisation data) provided annually by the programme on the financial implementation the “Location Dimension” data provides often very detailed information on the NUTS-2/NUTS-3 location of the projects selected for support. Again, however, the data does not necessarily provide a full breakdown by NUTS-2 / NUTS-3 territories.
For the purposes of economic analysis the Commission has estimated how EU payments made to programmes map to NUTS-2 regions over successive programme periods. This datastory introduces the historic payments data.
1.10 Where can I find information at regional level on EU research funding under FP7, Horizon 2020?
1.11 Where can I find data on the response to the Coronavirus pandemic?
The Union adopted its cohesion policy response to the pandemic under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (part 1 + part 2) in March/ April 2020. Since then, the European Union’s regions and Member states have been assessing the developing public health and socio-economic situations and the CRII1 and CRII2 proposals. The Commission is in intense discussions with programmes to understand how best cohesion policy funds can be used to complement the national and regional efforts. As of Mid May 2020 few formal changes have been decided. But this will change in coming months.
Until modifications are agreed we have published on the Open data pre existing plans for SMEs, health and the EU Solidarity Fund.
A list of data stories and other items can be found on ESI Funds Open Data.
See also Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative
b. ESIF Finances
2.1 What is the scope of the information on finances?
All financial data on the period 2014-2020 is expressed in current prices (i.e. the value of the EU funding in the year in question). (In rare cases where “constant prices” may be used, it will be specified in the dataset metadata.)
- 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 total planned investment EU and National (public and private) 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.
- Dataset with metadata: https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/dataset/ESIF-2014-2020-FINANCES-PLANNED-DETAILS/e4v6-qrrq
- Data on finances implemented: This data presents cumulative information from the programmes on their financial implementation progress on the ground as follows:
- For Cohesion Policy funds (ERDF-ESF-YEI-Cohesion Fund) updates are received 3 times a year – on 31 January, 31 July and 31 October - covering cumulative finances implemented to the end of the month preceding submission. After submission the data is published on the platform within 4-6 weeks;
- For EAFRD the data on the value of selected projects is reported once a year on 30 June covering cumulative selection up until the previous December; the data on expenditure is taken from the certified expenditure reported quarterly;
- For EMFF the data on the value of selected projects and spending is reported once a year on 31 May, and covers the period until the previous December
- 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);
- The dataset contains a partial ventilation of implemented finances by themes (the thematic objectives) (see also Q+A 2.9 below).
- Dataset with metadata: https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/dataset/ESIF-2014-2020-Finance-Implementation-Details/99js-gm52
- Data on EU payments:This presents the cumulative payments made by EU to the Member States and Interreg programmes from European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) during the 2014-2020 period updated on daily basis. Four types of graphs are presented based on the EU payment dataset:
- A visualization of EU payments aggregated across all Funds (EU level page, Country pages, Fund pages) – showing annual time series to the end of each year (e.g. 2015 includes 2014+2015 payments);
- A visualization of EU payments by ESI Fund (EU level page, Country pages and program pages) – cumulative values
- A visualization of EU payments by Member State (comparing payment rates by Member State on the EU level page and Fund pages) – cumulative values;
- A visualization of EU payments by category of region (Fund pages of ERDF and ESF) – cumulative values
All graphs present a split by payment type (initial pre-financing, annual pre-financing and interim payments) with an interactive legend where the user is invited to select/de-select one/some types of payments
The dataset underlying the visualizations has the following main elements:
- It is updated daily and therefore shows the most recent position based on payments made by the EU to the Member States;
- It contains three main categories of net payments – initial pre-financing, annual pre-financing and interim payments - and also includes the composite value used to calculate the net payments. (N.B. EAFRD does not apply annual pre-financing)
- It contains time series of cumulated values for the end of each calendar year and the latest cumulative value for the current year (N.B. When analysing the data, the values of each year should not be aggregated as the later year includes the previous years' values).
- In addition to EU payments from ESI Funds, the dataset also includes the payments made by EU to FEAD and IPAE programmes - though those funds are not visualized on the ESIF platform.
- The payments made are reported based on the amounts approved by the European Commission without taking into account eventual delays with the bank transfer.
- The dataset can be explored, filtered or downloaded by following the link "Explore and share this dataset".
- Dataset with metadata: https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/EU-Level/ESIF-2014-2020-EU-payments-daily-update-/gayr-92qh
2.2 Why in “finances implemented” are some programmes showing more than 100% decided?
On the ESIF open data platform the data presented for some programmes and even Member States suggests that the amount decided (finances implemented) exceeds the total amount programmed for specific Member States. Is there an obvious reason for this?
It is the practice of many programmes to award support to a volume of projects that exceeds the total planned cost of the programme. This happens generally in the last years of a programme period. They do this in order to avoid the risks 1) that some of the decided / selected projects fail to materialise or 2) that irregularities occur over the programme life time which lead to the withdrawal of support to those projects. “Over programming” in that sense is a prudent practice by programmes.
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 on 31 January of each year. This dataset provides the detailed planned and implemented values (decided for selected projects and expenditure) reported, allowing the most detailed comparison of implementation. https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/dataset/ESIF-2014-2020-categorisation-ERDF-ESF-CF/9fpg-67a4
2.4 Where can I find data on the EU amounts dedicated to addressing climate change (climate tracking)?
The cohesion policy “Categorisation data – decided vs implementation” dataset includes the calculation of financial amounts under climate and biodiversity tracking and the number of operations supported. The dataset metadata page has linked charts that highlight the total climate and biodiversity tracked amounts at EU level, by Member State and by “intervention field”.
This interactive data story provides an explanation of the system of climate tracking and a guide to the chart available.
2.5 Where can I find information on the planned use of Financial Instruments?
In April 2018 the dataset “Financial instruments implementation (finances)” was published with 2015 and 2016 data reported by the programmes on progress approving and implementing the financing of financial instruments. The dataset is updated regularly.
This interactive data story provides an explanation of the progress implementing Financial instruments and a guide to the charts available.
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 national or regional programme. The data is available through the relevant country page.
For financial information on NUTS-2 / NUTS-3 level see FAQ 1.9 above.
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 Is there information about the distribution of Cohesion policy expenditures by type of beneficiary ( public sector, business sector, non-profit sector) ?
While the texts of the specific programmes describe the potential beneficiaries, the Commission does not receive structured information on the nature of the beneficiaries that finally receive funding.
See Q+A 2.6 for further information on the published beneficiary list at Member States level.
2.10 : What is the status of the UK programmes after “Brexit”?
In line with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK will continue to honour its payments to the EU budget after 31 January 2020. The adopted programmes presented on the ESIF Open Data platform will continue to be implemented and EU budget commitments respected. This platform will continue to present data on the financial execution and achievements of the programmes involving the UK until their closure.
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
3.7 Why do the ERDF and Cohesion Fund common indicator targets change over time? What influences target changes?
At programme adoption in 2014-2015 the programmes were obliged to set output indicator targets for end-2023. The legal provisions allow programmes to propose reprogramming including changes in indicator targets.
There are multiple factors affecting indicator targets, such as: reallocation of financial amounts; changes in the demand for planned investments actions (over-demand or under-demand); corrections of assumptions used in the original target calculations; the result of public procurement procedures may lead to lower or higher costs than anticipated for the expected outputs; the inclusion of incomplete projects stages from previous programmes may lead to increased target values; cautious target setting in 2014-2015 which can be adjusted now.
3.8 Why are some ERDF and Cohesion Fund decided and implemented values so low / high?
The 290 ERDF and Cohesion Fund programmes track over 6 000 uses of the common indicators. In addition programmes use regional or national specific indicators.
No progress was reported for about 20% of common indicator values by the end of 2018 (no decided projects contribution). It may be that in those cases specific indicators may have been more appropriate.
For the first time in the 2014-2020 period a large number of the 2018 “decided” indicator values at programme level are greater than the targets set. This suggests that the target values should be exceeded by the end of the programme. Where the decided values are significant and significantly above the target the Commission has asked the programmes during 2019 to raise the target values. In many cases this will be formalised during 2020.
“Implemented” values take longer to materialise. This is particularly true for most types of infrastructures including research, broadband, transport and environmental infrastructures. In many such case the implemented values are expected to climb towards the target only in the later years of programming (leading to 2023).
3.9 How reliable are the ERDF and Cohesion Fund decided and implemented values reported?
Annually the Commission publishes (1) the latest target values from the adopted programmes and (2) the decided and implemented values reported by the programmes (unadjusted by the Commission). The programmes have responsibility for the values they report based on their monitoring system.
The 290 ERDF / Cohesion Fund programmes are expected to capture reliable indicators values from the project supported though their monitoring systems, consistent with the definitions provided for the common indicators. Those national and regional monitoring systems are checked in annual management controls.
The Commission also conducts plausibility checks on the values reported by programmes and queries values that seem implausible. In the 2019 quality review a larger number of questions were raised by the Commission than in previous years. Many clarifications were provided acknowledging that targets needed to be adjusted (by programme modification in 2020). In other cases mistaken “decided“ values were corrected by the programme managers. In a small number of cases programme managers acknowledged errors in the decided values but were not disposed to correct them.
It is expected, through the management controls and plausibility checks, that the reliability of the implemented values reported from the supported project will improve progressively until the completion of the programmes.
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?
Explore the chronological development of the Open Data Platform in this blog:
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
4.5 When will data on the period 2021-2027 be published?
The Commission will published detailed data on the future programmes once formal programme decisions have been taken. Programmes decision will be adopted only after the legislation on the 2021-2027 Multi annual framework and the cohesion policy legislative package are adopted. For more information check here: https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/2021_2027/