Cohesion policy 2014-2020: 
estimating investment progress

1. Mid-2022 update on expenditure under cohesion policy

  • At the end of September 2022 an estimated total of EUR 377.7 billion (72%) of the total planned EUR 527.5 billion of EU and national expenditure under cohesion policy for 2014-2020 was incurred on the ground as investment spending, compared to EUR 331 billion investment spending by end 2021;
  • The national and regional programmes have until the end of 2023 to deliver the remaining investment planned.
  • These figures provide an approximation of the progress over time in investment effort. The data has limitations that are explained in Section 4 below. 
The figures above include financial data 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.
The chart below shows the 2014-2020 year on year estimated 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)    

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. How to interpret the data

4.1 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 are detected during implementation 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 by end 2021.
4.2 Accuracy of the planned and reported financial data and percentage rates of spending  
The financial implementation data presented on the Open Data platform presents an approximation of the financial progress over time.  Several factors have made the calculation of the rates of spending and the comparisons between Member States less accurate as 2014-2020 programming arrives towards closure: 
  1. The financial implementation data above are calculated as mathematical aggregates of the raw data reported by programmes at MS and EU level. That aggregation does not take account of the limits on EU financing set a priori in the financial plan of each programme by EU fund, by category of region and by priority axis.  While there are important flexibilities in the use of EU Funds there are also limits.  Within each Member State, it is possible to transfer MFF resources after 2020 (until 2023), but only between priority axes as long as these transfers concern the same programme, the same EU Fund and the same category of region. In practice, the amounts over-programmed, or over-spent, in one programme cannot be used by another programme.
    In additional, at the closure of the programmes, there is flexibility to allow some excess expenditure in one priority to compensate underspending in another priority within the same programme, within the same EU Fund and the same category of region, but not between MFF and REACT-EU resources. Therefore, aggregating the over-programmed and over-spent amounts by programme or by country, as well as MFF and REACT resources by EU Fund, does not provide the most accurate picture. The impact of the raw aggregation leads to the overstatement of the rate of decided investment and spending for some programmes and at EU level.
  2. The data on this page is built using the planned funding from the latest adopted financial plans reflecting the last decided co-financing rates.  These planned amounts do not reflect the fact that the overall EU Fund contribution is an aggregate of EU Fund contributions calculated annually using the co-financing rates applicable in the specific accounting years. The EU Fund contribution paid in previously closed or submitted accounting years is not re-calculated at the new co-financing rates. Therefore, in case of increased co-financing rates, the MS needs to submit higher national financing to receive the full EU amount. (The only exceptions from this rule are CRII and CARE 100% EU co-financing, the increase of which do not need to be compensated by national overbooking - see point 3.) As a result, the selection rates and rates of spending are overstated for those countries that increased EU co-financing rates throughout the programme implementation period.
  3. The measure to allow 100% EU co-financing in the accounting year 2020/2021, under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiatives (CRII/CRII+)  had the effect of increasing EU co-financing and EU payments, while implicitly reducing the national co-financing and therefore the total financing.  However, the data published is based on the formal financial tables with planned funding, which do not take that "ex post" increase in EU co-financing into account. As a result, the selection rates and rates of spending are understated for those countries that used this 100% EU co-financing flexibility.
  4. The addition of the extra REACT-EU resources in 2021 and 2022 under the ERDF and ESF programmes has the effect of increasing the planned funding without contributing significantly to total expenditure (For instance, nearly EUR 39 billion was committed in 2021 to ERDF/ESF programmes, while only EUR 3.5 billion (9%) was reported as spending by end 2021.) This additional financing had the effect of slowing the rate of growth in the rates of spending between 2020 and 2022.  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).
The final reconciliation of the total investment costs declared to the Commission and the related EU payments (and any decommitment of EU funding) will only be definitively calculated at programme closure in 2025 and then reflected in the EU payments data.

5. 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; rev October 2022.
AUTHOR : Lucian LUCA, John WALSH - regio-eval@ec.europa.eu