European Regional Development Fund – Regional Policy

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

The ERDF finances programs under shared responsibility between the European Commission and the national and regional authorities of the Member States. The administrations of the Member States choose the projects to be financed and take responsibility for day-to-day management.

Funding priorities

In 2021-2027, the fund will make it possible to invest to make Europe and its regions:

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

Thematic concentration

On the basis of their prosperity, all regions and Member States will focus support on a more competitive and smarter Europe (political objective – PO 1), as well as a greener and low-carbon transition to a net economy with zero carbon and a resilient Europe (PO2), through the so-called “thematic concentration” mechanism.
All regions and Member States (MS) will concentrate at least 30% of their allocation on OP 2 and:

  • The more developed regions or MS will devote at least 85% of their allocation to PO1 and PO2;
  • Transition regions or EM at least 40% towards PO1;
  • Less developed regions or EM at least 25% at PO1.

All regions and Member States will also focus at least 8% of their allocation on urban development which will be delivered through local development partnerships with different tools.
ERDF operations should also contribute up to 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 between regions and countries: a new generation of Interreg programs inside and outside the EU will further develop common services and strengthen solidarity. Interreg finances projects between Member States, their outermost regions, countries acceding to the EU and neighboring countries.

Thus, 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 generation of the EU.

In addition, two new goals will pilot territorial cooperation:

  • Better governance of cooperation
  • A safer and more secure Europe.

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

In addition, Interreg projects beyond the borders of the EU cover several regions of the world:

  • Interreg NEXT, which involves the partner countries of the eastern and southern neighborhood;
  • Interreg Outermost Regions, which deepens relations between remote regions of the EU and their neighbors;
  • Interreg IPA, which encourages the cooperation of the Member States with the Western Balkan countries and Turkey and helps the acceding countries to remove barriers at the borders and to manage the programs in the same way as the Member States do. Such cooperation strengthens the capacities of countries to improve the lives of populations and builds trust with neighboring territories.

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

The changes include:

  • Shorter, fewer and clearer rules
  • Less paperwork for businesses;
  • Simplified implementation.

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

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

The ERDF also pays particular attention to territorial specificities. ERDF action is designed to reduce economic, environmental and social problems in urban areas, with particular emphasis on sustainable urban development. At least 8% of ERDF resources are devoted to this area through territorial or local development strategies, namely Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI), Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) but also tools supporting similar initiatives designed by Member States.

Naturally geographically disadvantaged areas (isolated, island, mountainous or sparsely populated areas) are given special treatment and Member States can define integrated approaches and allocate funds to these areas.

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

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