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Economic and social cohesion

As an expression of solidarity between the EU Member States and their regions, economic and social cohesion aims to achieve balanced socio-economic development throughout the EU.

Economic and social cohesion is implemented through the cohesion policy of the EU, which was incorporated into the EC Treaty by the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. Cohesion policy reduces structural disparities between regions and Member States through a variety of operations that are financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund.

Every three years, the European Commission presents a report on progress made towards achieving economic and social cohesion and the part played in this by EU policies. For the programming period 2014-20, cohesion policy is the EU's second largest budget item, with a total allocation of EUR 351.8 billion (2014 prices). During this period, cohesion policy will continue to support regions which have not completed the process of economic and social convergence in real terms, while also working towards achieving the EU's objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.