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Key achievements of Regional Policy 2014-2020

Cohesion policy – funded by the ERDF, ESF and Cohesion Fund – is the largest source of direct EU budget investments in the period 2014-2020. These three funds will enable a total investment of EUR 522 billion, with EU budget financing of EUR 388 billion at the end of 2021.

Below you find a presentation of selected investment targets and the progress made so far in achieving those targets organised under the three headings of A Smart Europe, A Sustainable Europe and An Inclusive Europe. Key investment areas include research and innovation, the digital economy, SMEs, low carbon economy, environmental and climate action, network infrastructures, labour market, social inclusion and human capital.

The filter allows you to view the specific contribution by country.

The text below draws mainly on achievement targets at the end of 2020 (unless otherwise stated). A comprehensive presentation on the scope of financing and the achievement of investment targets is presented on the Cohesion Open Data Platform. There you can find charts by theme, country, programme and Fund.

The indicator tiles present 3 measures:

  • Target value: the targets set in the adopted programmes and information reported annually by the programmes on implementation
  • the indicator forecasts linked to decided selected projects
  • the implemented values

A Smart Europe

Significant ERDF resources are allocated to strengthen research, technological development and innovation, to enhance access to the digital economy and IT services and to boost the competitiveness of SMEs. A selection of key investment indicators are presented below.

Firms supported

The ERDF provides significant support to European firms. Almost 1.8 million enterprises (mainly SMEs) are targeted for support, representing around 6% of all firms in Europe in 2018.

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Jobs created in firms

The ERDF investments are planned to generate around 360 000 new jobs, of which 36% will be created in France, Portugal, Germany and Poland. More than 80% of the new jobs are expected to be provided in SMEs.

New firms supported

Around 180 000 new enterprises will receive the ERDF support to start and grow their business, of which 28% are in France, 7% in Belgium and 5% in Spain.
For context, the target represents around 6.5% of the total EU population of new enterprises (enterprises up to 5 years old) in 2018.

Researchers with improved research facilities

Investment in research & innovation is a central objective of ERDF investments: 85 000 (as of December 2020 researchers will have access to improved research infrastructure facilities. This represents 3% of all European researchers, and roughly equates to the total population of researchers in Ireland and Greece (2019).

Households with improved broadband access

An additional 12 million households will have broadband access of at least 30 Mbps, of which 83% will be in Spain, Italy and Poland. In Spain, the target represents 32% of all households. To put these figures in perspective, 24.7 million households in the European Union do not have broadband access of at least 30Mbps (2019).

A Sustainable Europe

Investments to support the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors, to preserve and protect the environment, to boost resource efficiency and to promote climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management are at the heart of the ERDF and CF investments to forge a greener Europe. A selection of key investment indicators are presented below.

New capacity of renewable energy

An additional capacity of renewable energy production of 6 700 MW is supported under ERDF and CF. For context, that equates to nearly 4% of the total installed capacity of wind powered installation in the EU 27 in 2020 (179 000 MW).

Reduced energy consumption in public buildings

Energy savings of 6 480 GWh/year are planned in supported public buildings. For context, the savings equate to the annual consumption of around 500 000 households.

People with improved drinking water

Thanks to ERDF and CF investments, nearly 15 million people will gain access to new or improved water supply. 70% of the targeted beneficiaries live in Romania, Greece, Portugal Bulgaria and Czechia. The share of Romanian citizens to benefit corresponds to 15% of the national population.
For context, an estimated 13.6 million EU citizens do not have access to water supply (2016).

People with improved waste water treatment

An additional 21 million people will benefit from new or improved wastewater treatment. Nearly 60% of the targeted beneficiaries will be in Spain, Italy and Poland.
For context, an estimated 24.5 million EU citizens are not connected to wastewater treatment (2016).

Rail track constructed or upgraded

Thanks to ERDF and CF investments, 5 800 km of new, reconstructed or upgraded rail track will be delivered across Europe, of which 70% of the target is in Poland, Spain, Italy and Hungary. The ERDF and CF investments plan to create, reconstruct or upgrade 10% of the total Spanish railway network (2019).
The TEN-T rail target of 4 100 km (as of 12/2020) represents 71% of the overall new or reconstructed rail track target.

Roads constructed or upgraded

The ERDF and CF will support 14 900 km of new, reconstructed or upgraded roads across the European Union, of which 62% will be in Poland, Romania, Czech Republic end Spain.
Within the overall target to build or reconstruct roads, TEN-T sections make up 3 376 km (23%).

An Inclusive Europe

Promoting sustainable and quality employment, social inclusion, combating poverty and discrimination and investing in education, training and vocational training for skills represent the main social pillars of the ESF and ERDF during 2014-2020. A selection of key investment indicators are presented below.

ESF/YEI participants, in education, training, receiving employment support and social inclusion

Improved childcare or education infrastructure

17.9 million students will have access to improved childcare or education infrastructure. Italy is the largest beneficiary, with 84% of overall target value (The IT figure involves a degree of double counting due to schools receiving financing for several projects.)
At the EU level, there are around 76.2 million pupils and students enrolled in schools and pre-schools from early childhood education to upper secondary education (2018).

People benefiting from health services improvements

Thanks to the ERDF investments, more than 66.4 million people will benefit from improved health services, of which 46% are in Poland and Spain. In Poland 46% of the overall population will be served by the improved services.

People benefiting from integrated urban strategies

Nearly 43 million people will live in areas with integrated urban development strategies, of which 62% will be in France, Germany and Romania. In France and Hungary, 22% and 27% respectively of the population will benefit from these strategies.