Cohesion policy 2014-2020:
investment progress

Very high expenditure under cohesion policy in 2021

  • At the end of 2021 a total of EUR 331 billion (63%) of the planned EUR 522 billion of EU and national expenditure for 2014-2020 is now invested (compared to EUR 252 billion investment spending by end 2020).
  • Total spending by EU funded Cohesion Policy programmes in 2021 amounted to EUR 80 billion in EU and national financing. By December 2020 the equivalent expenditure volume was EUR 70 billion.
  • The national and regional programmes have until the end of 2023 to deliver the remaining investment planned.
The figures above include financial data on the additional EU Budget resources programmed under REACT EU to foster crisis repair and resilience in 2021. See the reported progress in REACT-EU "finances implemented" on the REACT EU page.
The chart below shows the 2014-2020 year on year cumulative level of financial progress in EUR. 
TIPS:
Use the filters to the top right of the chart to filter by country and programme. 
Click on a set of bars to expand the chart and compare countries for a specific year (use the buttons on the top left to reset / navigate)    

Progress by fund 


Cohesion policy 2014-2020 is financed by 3 EU funds and one initiative:
  • European Regional Development fund - ERDF
  • European Social Fund - ESF 
  • Cohesion Fund - CF (with restricted eligibility by country)
  • Youth Employment Initiative - YEI (co-funded by the ESF)  

The progress in financing by each of these funds  is presented across.
Use the filters to explore the progress by fund in each country and programme. 
The interactive charts on this page present Cohesion policy investment progress using three variables:
  • Planned: Total budget of the programme, of the fund of for the theme. It represents the total planned investment volume including EU and national financing. The total can change over time within the rules on "reprogramming".
    For instance, in 2020 there were some important transfers of EU planned amounts between fund, in particular EU funds were transferred from the Cohesion Fund to the ERDF and the ESF.  
  • Decided: total financial resources allocated to decided (selected) projects (the value of the project pipeline decided at a specific date). 
  • Spending: total investment expenditure reported to the national and regional programme managers by the selected / decided projects.

Response to the coronavirus pandemic

The rate of total expenditure accelerated during the exceptional circumstances created in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular as a result of a range of initiatives introduced in response. 
A significant Cohesion Policy reprogramming effort was conducted in 2020 with the regions and Member States under the  Coronavirus Response Investment Initiatives (CRII/CRII+). Significant changes were introduced in many national and regional Cohesion Policy programmes to direct or channel EU support to the  COVID-19 response, in particularly to support the public health response, support small enterprises and support people. 
The planned cohesion policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic has appeared in the 2021 financial data.  The CRII changes and the associated expenditure have contributed to the overall acceleration in spending under cohesion policy in 2020 and 2021. 
For more details on the Cohesion policy coronavirus specific measures see the Coronavirus dashboard across.

In 2021, REACT-EU provided €50 billion (current prices) of fresh resources to existing cohesion policy programmes in the Member States to be committed in 2021 and 2022.  The Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe initiative, or simply "REACT-EU", is financed by the EU Recovery Plan NextGenerationEU.  It aims to bridge the gap between the immediate emergency response in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its social consequences, and long-term recovery.
For more details on the details of the adopted REACT-EU allocations see the dashboard across.

How to interpret the data

What is over programming? 
Practically all the EU resources available have now been allocated to projects under the 4 Cohesion Policy funds. 
Looking at the national and programme trends you will notice that sometimes the amount for "total eligible cost decided (selected)" is higher than the  planned amount. It is the practice of many programmes to award support to a volume of projects that exceeds the total planned cost of the programme. This happens generally in the last years of a programme period. They do this in order to avoid the risks 1) that some of the decided / selected projects fail to materialise or 2) that irregularities occur over the programme life time leading to the withdrawal of support to those projects. “Over programming” in that sense is a prudent "project portfolio management" practice by programmes.
The fund chart above shows that the aggregate total eligible cost decided for the ERDF and Cohesion fund exceed the total planned amount. However, as the amounts over programmed in country "x" cannot be used by country "y", aggregating the over-programmed "selected" amounts by country does not provide the most accurate picture of selection.  Once we cap the total eligible cost decided to 100% for all countries we calculate an EU average selection rate of 99% across cohesion policy.

Accuracy of the 2021 rates of spending  
In the 2021 data two factors make the rates of spending difficult to compare over time and between Member States: 
  1. The addition of the extra REACT-EU resources in 2021 under the ERDF and ESF programmes has the effect of increasing the planned expenditure without yet contributing significantly to total expenditure. Nearly EUR 39 billion was committed in 2021 to ERDF/ESF programmes, while only EUR 3.5 billion (9%) was reported as spending. It should also be noted that REACT-EU does not have the same impact on the total planned budget in each MS (see the ERDF/ESF REACT-EU allocations by country on this page).  
  2. The measure under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiatives (CRII/CRII+) to allow 100% EU co-financing in the accounting year 2020/2021 has the effect of implicitly reducing the national co-financing and therefore the total financing.  However, the data published is based on the formal financial tables, which do not take that reduction in national co-financing into account. As a result, the rates of spending are understated for those countries that used the 100% EU co-financing flexibility.

More information 

For full financial details by country and programme you will also find charts on the #ESIFopendata platform:
·       Fund pages: see ERDF, ESF, Cohesion Fund and YEI : https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/funds
·       Country Pages: https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/countries
·       Programme pages:  https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/programmes

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TEXT:          March 2021; rev. September 2021; rev. December 2021; rev March 2022.
AUTHOR : Lucian LUCA, John WALSH - regio-eval@ec.europa.eu