The provisional agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council on future governing and cohesion funds on Tuesday 8 December 2020 aims to strengthen the EU’s economic, social and territorial cohesion. The agreement thus covers the strategic objectives of the Structural Funds for programming 2021-2027. As a reminder, the Multi-Year Financial Framework (MFF) for the next seven years provides EUR 242.9 billion for EU regional funding.
According to the provisional agreement between Parliament and Council negotiators, a significant part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which is by far the EU’s largest public fund, will be devoted to smart growth (40% for countries/regions in transition and 25% for less developed regions) and the green economy (30%). Member States will have the choice of complying either at national or regional level for the distribution of minimum resources, not to mention that appropriate support for outermost regions, islands and depopulated areas is included in the agreement.
In addition, as part of the 2021-2027 programme, the ERDF will provide more support to cities. 8% of the ERDF’s resources at national level will be allocated to sustainable urban development and the creation of the European urban initiative.”
The agreement also focused on research and innovation, including the creation of an “instrument for interregional investment in innovation.”
For its part, the Cohesion Fund (FC) will continue to focus on investments in environmental and transportation infrastructure.
The dismantling or construction of nuclear power plants, tobacco-related activities, airport infrastructure (except for outermost regions), investments in fossil fuels, among others, will be excluded from EU regional funding.
An exception is made for natural gas projects that replace coal-fired heating systems, compliance with gas infrastructure to allow the use of renewable and low-carbon gases, and public procurement of clean vehicles. A maximum of 0.2% to 1.55% of the national resources of the ERDF and the CF can be spent on such investments (these thresholds do not include investments in clean vehicles), based on criteria related to GNI levels and dependence on fossil fuels. In addition, projects that include investments in natural gas must be approved by December 31, 2025 at the latest in order to be funded.
Parliament and the Council should now adopt the content of the agreement.