European Regional Development Fund

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aims to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions. In 2021-2027 it will enable investments in a smarter, greener, more connected and more social Europe that is closer to its citizens.

The ERDF finances programmes in shared responsibility between the European Commission and national and regional authorities in Member States. The Member States' administrations choose which projects to finance and take responsibility for day-to-day management.

Funding priorities

In 2021-2027, the fund will enable investments to make Europe and its regions:

  • More competitive and smarter, through innovation and support to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as digitisation and digital connectivity
  • Greener, low-carbon and resilient
  • More connected by enhancing mobility
  • More social, supporting effective and inclusive employment, education, skills, social inclusion and equal access to healthcare, as well as enhancing the role of culture and sustainable tourism
  • Closer to citizens, supporting locally-led development and sustainable urban development across the EU

Thematic concentration

Based on their prosperity, all regions and Member States will concentrate the support on a more competitive and smarter Europe (policy objective – PO 1), as well as greener, low-carbon transitioning towards a net zero carbon economy and resilient Europe (PO2), through the mechanism known as 'thematic concentration'.
All regions and Member States (MSs) will concentrate at least 30% of their allocation to PO 2 and:

  • More developed regions or MSs will dedicate at least 85% of their allocation to PO1 and PO2;
  • Transition regions or MSs at least 40% to PO1;
  • Less developed regions or MSs at least 25% to PO1.

All regions and Member States will also concentrate at least 8% of their allocation to urban development that will be delivered through local development partnerships with different tools.
Operations under the ERDF are also expected to contribute 30 % of the overall financial envelope to climate objectives.

Full text of the ERDF regulation on Eur-Lex

ERDF in the 2014-2020 programming period

Interreg is the Union’s instrument to support cooperation across regions and countries: a new generation of Interreg programmes in and outside the EU will further develop joint services and strengthen solidarity. Interreg provides funding for projects between Member States, their outermost regions, the EU acceding countries and the neighbourhood countries.

Therefore, in 2021-2027, Interreg will continue to support cross-border mobility, and efforts to develop environmental protection, emergency services, skilled jobs and access to public services for the next EU generation.

In addition, two new objectives will steer territorial cooperation:

  • Better cooperation governance
  • A safer, more secure Europe.

Interreg has an impact on citizens’ lives at different levels. It encompasses cross-border cooperation along all EU land and maritime borders; transnational cooperation, including macro-regional strategies and sea basins; and interregional cooperation, which builds networks and lets leading regions share their successes and experience with other territories.

In addition, Interreg projects beyond EU borders cover several areas in the world: 

  • Interreg NEXT, which involves Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood partner countries;
  • Interreg Outermost Regions, which deepens relations between the EU’s remote regions and their neighbourhoods;
  • Interreg IPA, which fosters cooperation of Member States with Western Balkan countries and Turkey and helps acceding countries to alleviate border obstacles and manage prorgammes in the same way as Member States are doing. Cooperation of this kind bolsters the countries’ capacities to improve people’s lives and builds trust with neighbouring territories.

Thanks to more than seventy measures, regional funding has become simpler post-2020, making it more straightforward to access this kind of support – whether you are a public authority, a school or a hospital.

Changes include:

  • Shorter, fewer and clearer rules
  • Less red tape for business;
  • Streamlined implementation.

With grassroots cooperation driving a green and digital coronavirus recovery, Interreg paves the way for long-term, resource-efficient growth and competitiveness that leaves no-one behind.

Full text of the Interreg regulation on Eur-Lex
Interreg : European Territorial Co-operation

The ERDF also gives particular attention to specific territorial characteristics. ERDF action is designed to reduce economic, environmental and social problems in urban areas, with a special focus on sustainable urban development. At least 8 % of the ERDF resources are set aside for this field through territorial or local development strategies, i.e. Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI), Community-led Local Development (CLLD) but also tools supporting similar initiatives designed by Member States. 

Areas that are naturally disadvantaged from a geographical viewpoint (remote, islands, mountainous or sparsely populated areas) benefit from special treatment and Member States can set out integrated approaches and dedicate funds to these areas.

The outermost regions of the EU also benefit from specific assistance from the ERDF to address disadvantages due to their remoteness.