Staff working document: Ex post evaluation of major projects in transport financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund between 2000 and 2013

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Date : 24/02/2020

Cohesion policy is the EU’s key investment policy. Enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (Article 174-178), it aims to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion by reducing disparities in the level of development between regions. The policy focuses on key areas which will help the EU face up to the challenges of the 21st century and remain globally competitive. The objectives of cohesion policy are to be achieved notably through three Funds: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Cohesion Fund, and the European Social Fund (ESF). Transport infrastructure projects are financed by the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund, so the analysis in this document is limited to those two Funds.

The European Regional Development Fund invests in sectors that contribute to economic growth with the aim of fostering competitiveness and creating jobs in all EU regions and cities. ERDF actions are designed to address territorial, economic, environmental and social challenges, with a special focus on sustainable urban development. The Cohesion Fund supports Member States whose Gross national income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90% of the EU average. Countries falling into this categories are known as ‘cohesion countriesʼ. The Cohesion Fund aims to reduce economic and social disparities and to promote sustainable development by primarily investing in transport networks and the environment. The funds are managed using the ‘shared management’ method, in which responsibility is divided between national and regional authorities and the European Commission. Managing authorities select, finance and monitor investment projects that can best help to serve local needs.

The ERDF and the Cohesion Fund have supported a wide range of projects, ranging from enterprise support to infrastructure, and from urban regeneration to culture and social infrastructure. For almost all the cohesion countries, the two funds accounted for between 20% and 60% of government capital investment between 2000 and 2013 — a crucial contribution in the period concerned. In the rail sector, it is estimated that 10% of overall investments in the EU at aggregate level between 2000 and 2020 originated from large-scale projects financed by the Cohesion Fund, the ERDF (these two constituting the majority) and the Connecting Europe Facility.

Cohesion policy is implemented in line with a seven-year multiannual programming cycle. This report covers the 2000-2006 and the 2007-2013 multiannual financial frameworks.

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