1. 2021-2027 programming

This data story complements the Staff Working Document on the outcome of programming - SWD(2023)134 of 28 April 2023. 
That document presents the main results of the negotiations on the 2021-2027 programmes, financed through four of the Common Provisions Regulation Funds: European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), the Cohesion Fund (CF), the Just Transition Fund (JTF).  The preparation of the programmes involved the Member States’ authorities, regional, local and urban actors, economic and social partners and civil society, as well as the European Commission.
Below we present key messages from the SWD supported by open data, interactive charts and dedicated open data tracking tools linked to the adopted 2021-2027 programmes.

In the 2014-2020 programming period, cohesion policy funding amounted to almost 14% of total government investment in the EU as a whole and to 52% in the cohesion countries. The policy in 2021-2027 will continue to play a crucial role in the future - it will implement a third of the European Union’s long-term budget under the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework. The EUR 378 billion of EU support  is expected to result in EUR 545 billion worth of investment when national (public and private) co-financing is included.
The less developed regions will be the main beneficiaries – 70% of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) will be allocated to them. In addition, the Cohesion Fund (CF) will support 15 cohesion countries in the fields of the environment and trans-European networks.
These funds will be invested in jobs and growth and European territorial cooperation (the two goals of the policy), under five main policy objectives that aim to create a more competitive, smarter, greener, more connected, and more social and inclusive Europe closer to citizens, as well as towards a specific objective of addressing the impact of the transition towards climate neutrality through the Just Transition Fund (JTF).
Cohesion policy will make a central contribution across all European regions through its territorial approach and a stronger focus on the green and digital transitions, while striving to leave no one behind, in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights. It will help the EU and its Member States in achieving the three 2030 headline targets agreed in the 2022 Porto Summit: increasing quality employment to 78%; encouraging the participation of at least 60% of adults in training every year, and reducing poverty levels by 15 million people, including at least 5 million children. In addition, cohesion policy aims to mitigate the result of the demographic transformation leading to shrinking working age population. It will provide targeted assistance including addressing inefficiencies in the labour market, education, training and adult learning systems, improving innovation and public governance performances, the business environment and increasing the level of and access to services.
379 new cohesion policy programmes will help the EU’s regions achieve these objectives. The programming took place in a volatile environment and the negotiations were delayed mainly by the COVID-19 crisis and the war in Ukraine. An additional factor for the delay was the negotiations of new counter-cyclical emergency instruments under the NextGenerationEU recovery plan, in particular the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) and REACT-EU, which were programmed by the Member States as a priority given the shorter timelines for implementation. The programmes are now up and running, implementing projects to improve the quality of life for all and boost sustainable growth and development to reduce disparities between the European regions, e.g. by supporting business competitiveness, skilling and re-skilling, creating quality jobs, increasing youth employment, and aiding vulnerable groups. The policy is forecast to increase the EU’s GDP by 0.5% by the end of the implementation period and support the creation of 1.3 million additional jobs.
Key 2021-2027 reforms have strengthened the link to policy priorities in the Member States with notably a clear reference to the European Semester’s Country Specific Recommendations. They have also improved cohesion policy’s performance orientation. More focused objectives ‑ with a clearer intervention logic, more comprehensive common indicators that will allow better aggregation of data at EU level, and strengthened monitoring – will enable the Commission to present the achievements of the policy in a transparent way. These achievements will include
  • supporting almost 850 000 enterprises;
  • supporting at least 6.5 million unemployed people;
  • bringing clean water supply to 16.4 million people.
The interactive charts below show the national contributions to these targets.  

2. Macroeconomic impact of 2021-2027 programming

Cohesion policy has a significant impact on the EU’s economy. For the 2021-2027 period, cohesion policy expenditure corresponds to an annual average of around 0.2% of the EU’s GDP, with substantial national differences. 
Funding is concentrated on the EU’s less developed regions and Member States. As a result, aid intensity is much higher in the less developed regions (those with a GDP per head less than 75% of the EU average), with around EUR 207 being allocated per inhabitant and per year on average; for the more developed regions (those with a GDP per head above 100% of the EU average) the figure is EUR 21 .
This concentration implies that cohesion policy funding provides a sizeable financial booster for certain regions and Member States (up to 1.8% of GDP in Bulgaria and up to 3.5% of GDP in Greece’s Voreio Aigaio region and Bulgaria’s Severozapaden region).
The RHOMOLO model has been used to assess the expected impact of the 2021-2027 programmes on the EU’s economies at the EU, Member State and NUTS-2 region levels.  The simulation suggest that 
  • Cohesion policy interventions would increase the EU’s GDP by 0.5% by the end of the implementation period in 2029 (versus a no-cohesion policy scenario).
  • Their structural effect on the target economies means that their impact will continue long after the programmes have been terminated, with GDP remaining at 0.3% above its initial level in 2050.
  • 25 years after the beginning of the programming period, each euro spent on the policy will have generated EUR 2.8 of additional GDP in the EU, which corresponds to an annual rate of return of around 3.4%.
  • The policy will also boost the labour market, with an increase in employment of 0.64% in 2027, which corresponds to about 1.3 million additional jobs.
Cohesion policy therefore plays a key role in promoting overall development and reducing regional disparities in the EU.
By the end of the implementation period, the impact on GDP in the group of less developed regions is projected to be +2.6% (compared with +0.4% and +0.1% in the transition and more developed regions respectively.  The modelling results are presented in the following map of NUTS2 regions
The data used in the RHOMOLO modelling was derived from the financial allocations in the adopted programmes under the "intervention fields" (the source open data is available here).
A DG REGIO working paper is under preparation and will be published later in 2023. 

3. EU investments by policy objective

Cohesion policy has been evolving down the decades in response to the changing socio-economic environment and EU’s policy priorities, including the ambition of a smart, green and digital Europe. For illustration (see Chapter 9 of the Eighth Cohesion Report), in the 2014-2020 period, more than 30% of EU funding was allocated to the ‘social Europe’ objective to support employment and inclu­sion measures, just over 25% was allocated to ‘smarter Europe’ to support investment in R&D, innova­tion and competitiveness, and almost 20% was allocated to ‘green Europe’ and to ‘connected Europe’. The priorities in 2021-2027 will have an increased focus on a greener EU and on a just transition.

The interactive chart below gives a complete thematic overview of the investment volumes adopted under the following funds: ERDF, ESF+, Cohesion Fund, Just Transition Fund and Interreg (ERDF/IPA III/NDICI).   

A full overview of the related investment volumes planned and achievement targets (common indicators) is provided on the cohesion open data 2021-2027 overview page.
To explore in more detail the share of investments going to the thematic policy objectives by country and categories of region explore the following data story. 

POLICY OBJECTIVE 1: Smarter Europe

In the 2021-2027 programming period, cohesion policy will contribute to fostering research and innovation as well as addressing the innovation and digital divide across the EU by providing EUR 73 billion in support through P01. For example, 725 000 companies will be supported in their efforts for smart growth.
Overview of PO1 specific objectives
PO1 is funded by the ERDF through 5 specific objectives.
The largest allocation under PO1 will be spent to develop and enhance research & innovation capacities and will provide help to research and innovation in 148 000 companies; 83 000 researchers will have access to improved facilities and new R&I equipment.
Another objective is to support the creation and competitiveness of more than 450 000 SMEs. Support to SMEs remains essential, especially in the current context of supply constraints, high energy prices and inflation. In addition, skills for smart specialisation, industrial transition and entrepreneurship will be supported in 65 000 SMEs.
Furthermore, there is the objective is to reap the benefits of the digitisation. 22 500 public administrations will be digitalised. And finally, high-speed mobile network and fixed digital infrastructure will connect 3.1 million dwellings and 356 000 enterprises.
The EU and total financing planned under all 5 PO1 specific objectives is presented in the following chart.
A presentation of the allocations and key achievements (common indicator targets) are available on the PO1 thematic page on the cohesion open data platform.
In profile: Investment in the digital transition
The EU's digital transition creates many opportunities for people, businesses and public authorities, but the digital divide remains a concern for economic and social cohesion. Cohesion policy plays a key role in tackling social and territorial inequalities by supporting the modernisation of public services, digital skills and infrastructure, digitisation of public services and the digital transformation of businesses.
Across all policy objectives, around EUR 37 billion (ERDF, CF and ESF+) will support the digital transition.
Learn more about cohesion policy support for the digital transition in this data story.

POLICY OBJECTIVE 2: Greener Europe

Cohesion policy will make a significant contribution to the European Green Deal, with more than EUR 92 billion of support to investments in energy, climate change adaptation and mitigation, environment and sustainable urban mobility. 
Overview of PO2 specific objectives
PO2 is funded by the ERDF and Cohesion Fund through 9 specific objectives.
Unprecedented support from cohesion policy is dedicated to the energy transition and the achievement of the EU’s mid- and long-term energy and climate goals. In that respect, support to energy efficiency amounts to approximately EUR 21 billion and includes significant financing to building renovation.
Cohesion policy will also help Member States to green their energy supplies with a planned allocation of EUR 9 billion to renewable energy support, which will largely focus on solar energy in support of the new EU Solar Strategy (adopted in the framework of REPowerEU).
Also, under sustainable urban mobility, the policy will support 1 230 km of new and modernised tram and metro lines and 12 200 km of dedicated cycling infrastructure.
Clean water and improved wastewater infrastructure will reach 16.4 million people.
The EU and total financing planned is presented in the following chart.
A presentation of the allocations and key achievements (common indicator targets) are available on the PO2 thematic page on the cohesion open data platform.
In profile: Climate action tracking
The ERDF and CF will provide EUR 94.6 billion of support for climate actionacross all policy objectives, encompassing 36% of the total allocation. Adding the JTF and ESF+ allocations,  EU support for climate action totals to EUR 118 billion. This is in line with the objectives set out in the European Green Deal and the EU Climate Law, including the target of investing at least 30% of the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework funding in climate mitigation and adaptation.
Sizeable support will be provided to projects in the fields of energy efficiency, renewable energy, urban transport infrastructure and railway investments that will directly contribute to reducing emissions in EU by at least 55% by 2030 (with the long-term goal of EU climate neutrality by 2050). 
Explore climate action investments in this Cohesion Open Data story.
In profile: Biodiversity tracking 
Investments dedicated to protecting and preserving nature and biodiversity, as well as tackling all forms of polution, will be supported with nearly EUR 17 billion. ERDF and CF support will allow 4.5 million hectares of Natura 2000 sites to benefit from protection and restoration measures. Together with the JTF, the programmed contribution to the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 has increased by 50% from the 2014-20 programming period (from 4% to 6% of the total allocation).
Explore investments in biodiversity in this interactive Cohesion Open Data story.

POLICY OBJECTIVE 3: Connected Europe

The EU's economic growth and cohesion depend on efficient transport systems at all territorial levels, including trans-European corridors, national networks, regional connectivity and local mobility. Investments in PO3 for the 2021-2027 programming period amounting to EUR 40 billion will contribute to increasing investment in the digital and green transition of the transport sector while continuing to improve connectivity and traffic safety.
Overview of PO3 specific objectives
PO3 is funded by the ERDF and Cohesion Fund through 2 specific objectives.
Under the sustainable TEN-T objective, rail will be financed. Rail is one of the safest and cleanest modes of transport and remains a key element in the transition to the more sustainable transport of passengers and freight. 3 900 km of TEN-T railway lines will be newly built, upgraded, reconstructed or modernised under this objective.
The EU and total financing planned is presented in the following chart. 
A presentation of the allocations and key achievements (common indicator targets) are available on the PO3 thematic page on the cohesion open data platform.


Cohesion funds are an important tool for investing in people for social and inclusive growth, in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights. Investments in people are essential for the EU’s resilience and sustainable development. Therefore, the Funds play an essential role in strengthening the social systems, fostering skills, increasing employability, improving the quality, labour market relevance, and inclusiveness of education and training, as well as fostering equal access to affordable social and health services thereby turning the European Pillar of Social Rights into reality by helping achieve its targets.
PO4 allocation for the 2021-2027 programming period is EUR 111 billion. The aim is to provide support to just over 37 million people by the end of the decade in areas ranging from education and training to health, long-term care and inclusion of vulnerable groups. Overall, ESF+ aims to support at least 6.5 million unemployed people and almost 1.3 million inactive people.
Overview of PO4 specific objectives
PO4 is funded by the ESF+ in close coordination with the ERDF, through 13 and 5 specific objectives respectively.
Employment is the key area supported by ESF+. To this end, ESF+ aims to support at least 6.5 million unemployed people and almost 1.3 million inactive people.
Cohesion policy scope of support includes people’s professional skills and lifelong learning, promoted by the European Year of Skills, aiming to contribute reaching the 2030 EU target of at least 60% of all adults participating in training every year. In this context, support will be provided to 1.7 million pupils in primary and secondary education and almost 3.5 million people are expected to study in new or modernised education facilities.
Cohesion funding will also aim to improve the integration and inclusion of more than 3 million people who are at risk of social exclusion, including support to 600 000 people from marginalised groups such as Roma.
Health and long-term care is another priority area of cohesion policy, including investments in infrastructure and equipment. This support will for example enable 60 million patients to receive medical advice or treatment in new or modernised healthcare facilities.
The EU and total financing planned is presented in the following chart. 
The allocations and key achievements (common indicator targets) are available on the PO4 thematic page on the cohesion open data platform.

POLICY OBJECTIVE 5: Europe Closer to the citizens

2021-2027 cohesion policy has brought a strengthened bottom-up, place-based approach by empowering sub-regional territories and local communities to identify their own priorities and projects in an integrated and participatory way. This approach is unique and represents one of the main added values of the policy. A new dedicated policy objective ‘Europe closer to citizens’ was added to this end, which will be implemented only through territorial and local development strategies, e.g. for energy renovations of 2 million square metres  of public buildings.
Overview of PO5 specific objectives
PO5 is funded by the ERDF through 2 specific objectives.
24 Member States have programmed more than EUR 19 billion to support place-based investments via more than 2 150 integrated territorial development strategies with enhanced ownership and the participation of local stakeholders and communities. Almost two thirds of this allocation is planned for investment aimed at fostering integrated and inclusive social, economic and environmental development, culture, natural heritage, sustainable tourism and security within urban areas, while one third will pursue such objectives in non-urban areas. For example, 2 million square metres of public buildings will be energy renovated, 33 square km of open space will be created or renovated in urban areas, and around 3 800 cultural or tourism sites will be supported.
The EU and total financing planned is presented in the following interactive chart.
A presentation of the allocations and key achievements (common indicator targets) are available on the PO5 thematic page on the cohesion open data platform.

JTF: Towards a just transition

The JTF has been created as part of the European Green Deal. With a budget of EUR 19.7 billion, it aims to help the people and places most affected by the transition to climate neutrality so that no region is left behind. 
The JTF geographical scope includes territories that depend on the extraction or production of coal, lignite, peat and oil shale and on carbon-intensive industries such as steel, cement and chemicals. Those activities are expected to decline or change fundamentally with the transition to a climate neutral EU economy, leading to job losses and other negative impacts, including changes in skills and job profiles.
The JTF will enable several Member States to make progress in their plans to phase out coal. It is helping other Member States to achieve ambitious objectives to decarbonise industry that in some case go beyond the EU target, and to support fossil-fuel dependent regions in diversifying their economies.
Under the JTF specific objective, almost 39 000 enterprises will be supported and more than 5 000 SMEs will invest in new skills for smart specialisation, industrial transition and entrepreneurship. Up to 120 000 unemployed people will benefit from the measures and almost 200 000 people will gain new qualifications. Among other things, the JTF will also support the rehabilitating almost 46 000 hectares of land.
A presentation of the allocations and key achievements (common indicator targets) are available on the Just Transition Fund page on the cohesion open data platform.

Interreg: European Territorial cooperation 

Besides the goal of cohesion policy to support growth and jobs, it will focus on the European territorial cooperation across the EU and its neighbours. Interreg programmes will support with more than EUR 10 billion, among others, the institutional capacity for territorial cooperation, the cooperation with partners within/outside the Member States, biodiversity protection measures, etc. It plans to involve more than 2 million persons (e.g. citizens, volunteers, students public officials), 40 299 organisations and 25 456 SMEs in different kinds of joint actions across borders.

A presentation of the allocations and key achievements (common indicator targets) are available on the Interreg page  on the cohesion open data platform.

4. Novelties and specific initiatives

The Commission made an early start in preparing the 2021-2027 programming period. The legislative proposals were already issued in May 2018 and included important improvements to ensure that investments are well targeted and effective. The Commission put forward major simplification measures in its proposal for the 2021-2027 cohesion policy, largely preserved throughout the subsequent legislative process. The Commission issued its views on the Member States’ investment needs within the 2019 and 2020 European Semester packages. The negotiations on the individual programmes started in spring 2019 and continued until the end of 2022.
Please find a selection of the novelties, simplifications and main policy principles in the 'in profile' boxes on this page using available cohesion open data . More data stories will become available later on.
In profile: Sustainable urban development
Under the ERDF a target was set for the allocation of 8% EU resources to sustainable urban development.  The Member States plan to significantly exceed this target and have earmarked EUR 24 billion (almost 12% of their ERDF allocation) to supporting investment projects based on sustainable integrated strategies developed and implemented by cities.
Explore investments in sustainable urben development in this interactive Cohesion Open Data story.
In profile: Financial instruments
Financial instruments remain an important tool for the efficient implementation of cohesion policy in the 2021-2027 period.
The Member States have programmed EUR 19 billion representing 5.5% of the total cohesion policy funds to support investments via financial instruments.
Explore investments through financial instruments in this interactive Cohesion Open Data story.
In profile: Gender Equality tracking
Through its funding programmes and mainstreaming approach, Cohesion policy plays an important direct and indirect role in promoting gender equality in the EU at the national, regional and local levels. In the 2021-2027 period more than 30% (EUR 111 billion) of all cohesion policy funding are programmed to support gender equality.
Explore investments in gender equality in this interactive Cohesion Open Data story.

More information

The full Staff Working Document on the outcome of programming (SWD(2023)134 of 28 April 2023) is available here. 
Find out more about #CohesionOpenData  Website Blog FAQ User Guide - Browse other data stories 
Authors: Monika TCHAVDAROVA, John WALSH, Dora O'NEILL
Data of Text: April 2023