Ex Post Evaluation of the ERDF in Objectives 1 & 2 (2000-2006)

Work package 5b: Environment and Climate Change

The importance of environmental measures is reflected by the financial allocation. ERDF spent 21% of its total allocation, €25.5 billion, on environment-related interventions in 2000-2006. Another €15.8 billion is allocated to environment from the Cohesion Fund, raising the total amount to €41.3 billion.

Main areas of environment-related measures were environment infrastructure and rehabilitation measures. The Cohesion Fund and ISPA specifically aimed at environment infrastructure (water supply, wastewater treatment, and solid waste management), raising the total amount invested in this particular category to €30 billion.

The ERDF has significantly contributed to the improvement of the European environment. The additional population connected to wastewater collection and treatment in EU is estimated to be around 40 million (12% of the population) in the period 2000-2006; the ERDF contributed to half of it. Figures for the ERDF for the other sectors are more moderate but still very impressive: 14 million people are served by improved water supply, and waste treatment capacity increased by more than 230,000 m3/day, and almost 1000 unauthorised landfills were closed or rehabilitated.

Although cohesion policy delivered very good environmental results, some factors limited the effectiveness of the measures:

  • Difficulties of determining the optimal capacity: Environmental infrastructure is created for a very long operational life, and it is very difficult to forecast the demand for this time horizon. Uncertainty is caused by user reactions to the change in charges, general consumer behaviour, technological changes, or migration.
  • Covering maintenance and operational costs, thus ensuring financial sustainability throughout the long operational time is complex. The introduction of user charges (polluter and user pays principles) is necessary to reduce environmental burden and to create revenue for environmental services. Charges cannot be higher than what is affordable, otherwise people will not use the facilities, and the affordability level in the poorest regions can be lower than what is required to cover even only operational costs.

Environmental infrastructure does not have a short-term impact on the economic development of the region (apart from temporary effects from the construction activities). Nevertheless, environmental measures can stimulate economic activities if certain conditions are met:

  • Institutional capacity is sufficient to ensure the development of integrated strategies (including programme design and monitoring) and sufficient volume of good-quality projects.                                                                           
  • The measures are designed to correspond to the characteristics of the region, reactively (respond to needs) or pro-actively (rely on advantages). The key is in integrating the economic measures in the whole development strategy and exploiting synergies rather than in the special design of the environmental measures themselves.


  • Final Report : Volume 1 pdf en - Volume 2 pdf en
    • Executive Summary pdf de en fr
  • Terms of reference pdf en
  • Inception report pdf en
  • First Interim report - Conceptual Basis and Case Study methodology pdf en
  • Second interim report : Features of Environment Strategies of Member States and Main Inputs and Outcomes of Programmes pdf en


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