Cohesion policy 2014-2020:
investment progress

A sharp rise in expenditure under cohesion policy by mid 2021

Total spending by EU funded Cohesion Policy programmes in the first semester of 2021 amounted to nearly EUR 37 billion (in EU and national financing). It represents a 6 percentage point increase in investment spending since the end of 2020. 
In the first semester of 2020 the equivalent volume was EUR 23 billion. The rise in expenditure in the 2021 financial data is in large part due to the significant reprogramming effort made under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative in 2020 and the use of temporary 100% EU co-financing.
A total of EUR 289 billion (58%) of the planned EUR 494 billion of EU and national expenditure for 2014-2020 is now invested (compared to EUR 251.5 billion investment spending by end 2020).
For the first time the financial data contains information on the additional EU Budget resources programmed under REACT EU to foster crisis repair and resilience. See the reported progress in REACT-EU "finances implemented" on the REACT EU page.
(NB: In the 2014-2020 period the national and regional programmes have until the end of 2023 to deliver the expenditure planned.)
The chart below shows the 2014-2020  year on year cumulative level of financial progress in EUR. 
Using the filters to the top right of the chart to filter by country and programme. 
Or 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 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. 
A significant Cohesion Policy reprogramming effort was conducted in 2020 with the regions and Member States under the  Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative. 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. 
A large part of the planned cohesion policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic is also present in this most recent financial data.  Indeed, these changes and the associated expenditure have contributed to the overall acceleration in spending under cohesion policy.
For more details on the Cohesion policy coronavirus specific measures see the Coronavirus dashboard across.

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 which lead 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 an accurate EU picture.  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.
During 2021 it is expected that the additional REACT-EU financing will be added to the 2014-2020 programmes to foster crisis repair and a resilient recovery.  Some of the projects included in over programming could be financed using REACT-EU depending on the priorities decided for this instrument.

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 :
·       Country Pages:
·       Programme pages:

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TEXT:          March 2021; rev. September 2021.