MEPs adopt greener funds for regional development and cooperation

Regional and cohesion funds will support the recovery from COVID-19 pandemic and climate action ©European Union 2021 – EC/Matthieu Rondel

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


Parliament adopted on Wednesday three EU funds to strengthen the EU’s economic, social and territorial cohesion with a total of 243 billion euro.

The so-called “cohesion package” comprises the European Territorial Cooperation Goal (Interreg), the European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund, as well as the Common Provisions Regulation, a set of norms governing EU regional, cohesion and social funds over the next seven years.

All three regulations will be published in the EU’s Official Journal on 30 June and will enter into force the following day.

In line with the new common provision rules, both Interreg and the Regional and Cohesion Funds will have to direct at least 30% of their resources to climate action, the circular economy and investments in sustainable growth and job creation. They also foresee specific measures for SMEs and outermost regions.

European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund

With a budget of 243 billion euro (in 2018 prices) – roughly a quarter of the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – the Regional and Cohesion Funds are together the largest EU investment tool.

In an effort to contribute to the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, they will also support culture, sustainable tourism, digitalisation and making the public health system more resilient.

Investments related to nuclear power or fossil fuels are excluded from support, with an exception made for projects on natural gas to replace coal, valid until 31 December 2025.

Details here.

Interreg: support for cross-border projects and cooperation in the EU’s neighbouring regions

Interreg will have a budget of 8.05 billion euro (in 2018 prices) for the 2021-2027 period, with a co-financing rate of 80% overall (85% for outermost regions).The resources – 3% higher than the previous period – are provided by the European Regional Development Fund envelope.

Cross-border cooperation will receive 72.2% of these resources, whereas transnational, interregional, and outermost regions’ cooperation will be allocated 18.2%, 6.1% and 3.5% respectively. Up to 20% of funds within an Interreg programme may be allocated to small projects.

Details here.

Common Provisions Regulation

The legislation lays down common provisions for the Regional and Cohesion fund, the Just Transition Fund, the European Social Fund Plus and the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. Together, the instruments covered by this legislation represent about a third of the EU’s total budget for 2021-2027, with a total of 330 billion euro (in 2018 prices).

In order to receive EU funding, countries will have to comply with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, promote gender equality and fight discrimination.

Details here.

Quotes

Quotes from the different lead MEPs can be found here.

Background

EU legislators reached political agreements on the European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund, Interreg and the Common Provision Regulation in December 2020. The Committee on Regional Development approved the deals in December and March, paving the way for the Council to adopt its first reading positions on 27 May.

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