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Cohesion policy action against coronavirus

The Coronavirus outbreak presents a major challenge to the entire European Union. National, regional and local communities are on the frontline in countering the disease and its consequences. Solidarity and responsibility across our societies and between EU countries are key to overcome this challenge. The benefit of collective and coordinated action as a community outweighs individual and parceled responses.

The Commission has, therefore, launched in April 2020 two packages of measures: the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) and the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus (CRII+), which were swiftly endorsed by the European Parliament and the European Council. This was supplemented on 27 May with the presentation of the REACT-EU package.

Existing funds have been re-oriented and new funds are available in all EU countries and regions to tackle the crisis.

REACT-EU, new funding

REACT-EU (Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe) continues and extends the crisis response and crisis repair measures delivered through the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative and the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus and provides a bridge to the long-term recovery plan. Therefore, these additional resources should be used for projects that foster crisis repair capacities in the context of the coronavirus crisis, as well as investments in operations contributing to preparing a green, digital and resilient recovery of the economy.

This funding is entirely new (EUR 47 billion): it is a top up to funding still available under 2014-2020 programmes and additional to the cohesion allocations 2021-2027, bringing the total amount of the European Structural and Investment Funds higher than current levels and becoming the highest single-policy grant instrument in the EU budget.

More about REACT-EU

Current programmes are re-oriented

As of 16 December, 25 EU countries and the UK have requested 239 amendments to their existing Cohesion Policy programmes using the flexibilities offered by CRII and CRII Plus. The Commission has modified its internal procedures to allow for a swift treatment of all requests under lighter, faster procedures. The administrative burden has been alleviated through extension of deadlines, enlargement of project scope and other simplifications. All Member States automatically benefit from these measures regardless of whether or not they introduce any changes.

For more information on how the funds have been used so far, visit the Coronavirus Dashboard on the Open Data Platform.

Main measures per Member State


Thanks to the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, Member States can immediately address three key priorities in the fight against the current emergency and its economic consequences: spending on healthcare, support to short time work schemes, and support to the SMEs working capital.

To make this money available, the Commission proposed to mobilise quickly unspent cash reserves from the EU funds. This provided immediate liquidity to Member States' budgets and helped to frontload the yet unallocated €37 billion of cohesion policy funding within the 2014-2020 cohesion policy programmes, thus providing a much needed boost to economic investments.

The Commission also made all Coronavirus crisis related expenditure since February 1, 2020 eligible under cohesion policy rules. The rules for cohesion spending are applied with maximum flexibility, thus enabling Member States to use the funds to finance crisis-related action. This also means providing greater flexibility for countries to reallocate financial resources, making sure the money is spent in the areas of greatest need: the health sector, support for SMEs, and the labour market.

The EU Solidarity Fund provided additional assistance of up to €800 million to the worst affected countries in order to alleviate the financial burden of the immediate response measures.