2014-2020 ERDF-CF 
MONITORING DATA ON OPERATIONS 
(summary data)


In preparation for the 2014-2020 ex-post evaluation, the European Commission (DG REGIO) awarded a contract to carry out a study on the monitoring data on ERDF and Cohesion Fund operations and on the monitoring systems operated in the 2014-2020 period.
The study objective was to provide reliable and robust monitoring data on expenditure and achievement indicators that will feed into the Commission’s ex-post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes in the 2014-2020 programming period. The work carried out provides inputs to the ex-post evaluation in terms of (1) creating a single database of the funded operations and classifying them according to their scope of intervention, form of finance and type of beneficiary and (2) gathering, classifying and quality assessing the output indicator data collected by Managing Authorities (MAs). 
For the first time, the datasets present in a harmonised way a vast amount of monitoring data from the national/regional monitoring systems and in public lists of operations.  It has been collected in order to be processed further and used to inform the analysis and evaluation under the 2014-2020 ex post, in particular under the planned thematic work packages.
This data story presents a summary of the data collected and links to short versions of the 3 datasets (see the section on "access and reuse").

1. THE "SINGLE" DATABASE

The Single Database covers 215 OPs co-financed by ERDF and/or CF and 73 Interreg cooperation programmes (CPs) co-financed during the 2014-2020 period, across the 11 Thematic Objectives (i.e., 96% of the total number of ERDF/CF programmes). 
It combines three datasets, including data for
  • 584 828 operations (dataset on operations),
  • 1 168 711 beneficiaries (dataset on beneficiaries) for 471,419 beneficiary institutions, and 
  • 1 435 059 indicator values (dataset on indicators), 713 638 common output indicators and 491 498 programme-specific output indicators  were collected for 421 629 operations (72 % of the operations in 85% of the programmes).
The three sets of data are interlinked through unique ad-hoc identifiers of the operations, which allows linking the list of beneficiaries and output indicators to the related operations.
In turn, each operation is linked to its respective programme (OP), Priority Axis, Thematic Objective, and Investment Priority. In this way, the chain from the OP to the beneficiaries (and related expenditures), as well as output indicators, can be established through the operations and data included in a specific database can be integrated into the others. 

Figure 1 below summarises the broad scope of the 3 datasets and shows several of the linking data elements found in all 3 datasets.  

This rich collection of data makes available to evaluators and researchers a unique data source on ERDF and CF programmes funded during 2014-2020Both in terms of granularity and coverage, it expands much beyond what is available in public lists of operation, public open data platforms at national level as well as in programme annual implementation reports (AIRs).
Thanks to this Single Database, it is possible in particular to:
  • Filter, count and sum operations by country, region and NUTS (until level 3),  and key features (e.g., Thematic Objective, Investment Priority, Field of Interventions, including a harmonised cluster typology describing their scope and strategic objective);
  • Filter, count and sum beneficiaries of operations, including direct beneficiaries, the final recipients of financial instruments or groups of projects, as well as other types of beneficiaries (e.g., partners in collaborating projects) according to their location, typology, size and NACE sector if they are enterprises and other key features.
  • Filter, count and sum the outputs reported by country, programme and operations as well as the target and implemented values of outputs to measure operations achievements; 
  • Filter and sum financial resources allocated and paid, distinguishing by operation, beneficiary, indicator, programme and territory.
Thanks to the harmonisation at EU level, data from this dataset allows comparing data across regions and territories (until NUTS3) of the EU, facilitating benchmarking exercises and cross-regions and cross-countries learnings.
Thanks to the enrichment with external database, linking beneficiaries with Orbis and CORDIS databases, it is possible to know:
  • If and which of the identified beneficiaries have also been beneficiaries of Horizon 2020 project(s) and which ones;
  • Whether it is possible to find the beneficiaries (almost exclusively enterprises) in the Orbis database, where key financial and accounting information can be found and downloaded.
* * *
There are also limitations, which require interpreting the data with care to draw meaningful conclusions. In particular:
  • The picture provided by this data cannot be considered complete and data coverage is varied depending on countries and types of variables and by dataset. This holds true in particular for financial data, data on beneficiaries (especially those of intermediated instruments and those not being lead partners in collaborating projects), some of the standard EU categories, the list of indicators and the variables allowing the link with external databases.
  • While an operation corresponds to a project in most cases, this does not always hold true. Depending on the approach adopted by the MA, an operation can also be an intermediated instrument, a group of projects, a complex investment project or a self-standing component of a larger investment project. Not in all cases it was possible to flag this distinction.
  • To ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the name of the beneficiaries has been anonymised whenever it was provided for natural persons.
  • The cut-off date varies according to the information provided by the national and regional programmes, ranging from the end of December 2020 to July 2021. The datasets provide a static picture.  
The following reports provide detailed descriptions of the strategy for constructing the 3 datasets, highlighting the observed data limitations and the strategies put in place to overcome them. 

2. THE OPERATIONS DATASET

allows the exploration of almost 585,000 operations, with filters by EU fund / country / programme and more
... for a total allocation of EUR 395.3 billion and covering EUR 236.5 billion in EU contribution,

...with different patterns of maturity visible by Thematic Objective,
... with the number of operations by intervention field, 
... and total allocation (EUR) by intervention field, 
... for a total disbursed amount of EUR 168 billion, covering an EU contribution of EUR 86.1 billion as of the end of 2020

3. THE BENEFICIARIES DATASET

contains details of 1,16 million beneficiaries by country, programme and operation.
... categorised by the roles they play,
... and their nature (beneficiary type) - in numbers
... and their nature (beneficiary type) - total allocation (EUR)

4. THE INDICATORS BY OPERATIONS DATASET

The Database of Indicators covers 421,629 operations and 245 operational programmes. It covers 72.1% of operations and 85.06% of operational programmes included in the Database of operations.
Overall, the database of common and specific output indicators contains 1,435,059 rows of data by output indicator with the average operation linked to more than 3 indicators.

Using the  Database of Indicators and linking with the Database of Operations and Database of Beneficiaries, it is possible in particular to:
  • Filter, count and sum the outputs, and, in particular, values of common output indicators, reported by country, programme and operations as well as the target and implemented values of outputs to measure operations achievements; 
  • Filter, count and sum outputs by key features including Thematic Objective, Investment Priority, Field of Intervention, Priority Axis and Specific Objective;
  • Filter and sum financial resources allocated and paid, distinguishing by operation, indicator, programme and territory. 
Thanks to the harmonisation at EU level, data from these datasets allows comparing data across regions and territories (until NUTS3) of the EU, facilitating benchmarking exercises and cross-regions and cross-countries learnings.
* * *
There are also limitations, which require interpreting data with care to draw meaningful conclusions. In particular:
  • The picture provided by this data cannot be considered complete and data coverage is varied depending on countries and types of variables. This holds true in particular for financial data, data on beneficiaries (especially those of intermediated instruments and those not being lead partners in collaborating projects), some of the standard EU categories, the list of indicators and the variables allowing the link with external databases. 
  • Operation-level data on output indicators were not available for national and regional operational programmes implemented in Austria, Hungary, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
  • While an operation corresponds to a project in most cases, this does not always hold true. Depending on the approach adopted by the MA, an operation can also be an intermediated instrument, a group of projects, a complex investment project or a self-standing component of a larger investment project. Not in all cases was it possible to flag this distinction. Accordingly, this affects target/forecast and implemented values reported at the level of operations (e.g. target/forecast value reported for a group of projects, and implemented values of individual projects may be duplicated and need careful interpretation).
  • Financial data at the operation level should be interpreted with care when assessing EU contribution to the achieved outputs, as most of the operations contribute to the achievement of more than one indicator and it is not possible to distinguish the amount of funding used to achieve each of them.
  • The cut-off date differs, ranging from the end of December 2020 to July 2021. 
... contains 1.4 million indicators values used by operations
... distributed by Member state and programme (where available)
... along with the operations' forecast and implemented values
Use the filters on top right of the chart below to filter 
  • by MS / programme
  • by thematic objective and investment priority levels
  • by common indicator code
See also the limitations on direct aggregation listed above. 
The work under this study was carried out by a consortium led by CSIL Milano with Prognos AG and PPMI.
The terms of reference and the full results of the 2014-2020 ex-post "work package on data preparation" are published on this link.
The following reports and links under lie the work described above: 
For more background information on the financial categorisation system and system of common indicators see the data stories below.  
Access and reuse
The data underlying this page was collected at various moments during 2021 and does not represent the final picture of what was financed under the 2014-2020 programmes. It is also partially incomplete and has been manually treated (to harmonise presentation, fill data gaps, etc.) and enriched by the contractors.  The data needs, therefore, to be carefully assessed and it's analysis requires a study of its structure and a knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses. 
From this page public users can access filtered versions of the 3 datasets. 
Access to the complete datasets will be given to contractors that are awarded contacts to evaluate ERDF and Cohesion fund programmes in depth.
Contacts
Please also check out these additional resources: Frequently asked questions - Cohesion Open Data BlogUser Guide - Guide to making visualizations
Authors: Philip ENGELS / John WALSH  
Date of text: May 2022