1. What is the categorisation system used for? 

In the 2021-2027 programming period, Member States structure the programmes delivering cohesion policy investments according to the "specific objectives" listed in the relevant fund regulations. However, aggregated financial data at the level of specific objective does not provide information about what is financed, how investments are financed, where they take place, etc. 
To collect this type of information, programme managing authorities provide financial data on 8 dimensions (categorisation data) at the level of specific objective, fund and category of region. The categorisation information system provides data on the financial inputs of a programme, contributing to the assessment of its intervention rationale, and allowing the monitoring of investment progress.
The cohesion policy categorisation system will cover the following funds and investment strands: ERDF, ESF+, Cohesion Fund, Just Transition Fund,  Interreg, NDICI and IPA III. 

2. What does the 2021-2027 categorisation system look like?

The categorisation dimensions are listed in Annex I to Regulation (EU)  2021/1060 (Common Provisions Regulation, CPR). They are: 
  1. Intervention fields (*): 182 codes identifying the scope of investments;
  2. Form of support (*): 6 codes identifying whether investments are delivered through grants or financial instruments;
  3. Territorial delivery mechanism and territorial focus (*): 33 codes identifying the territorial context (urban neighbourhood, mountainous area, ...) of the operation and the territorial tool applied;
  4. Economic activity: 26 codes identifying the sector ultimately benefitting from the support; 
  5. Location: Indicates the location of the operation using the NUTS nomenclature;
  6. ESF+ secondary theme (*): 10 codes identifying the secondary objectives of ESF+ interventions;
  7. Gender equality (*): 3 codes indicating the intensity of support to gender equality measures;
  8. Macro-regional and Sea-basin strategies: 11 codes indicating the contribution of the investments to these strategies.
(*) The CPR establishes that, at the beginning of the programming period, programmes must set out indicative financial allocations for dimensions 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7. 
Financial allocation and spending are reported on all dimensions during implementation (5 times per year), to monitor progress and compare implemented activities with the original plans. 

3. What questions does the categorisation system help answer?

The categorisation system tracks financial inputs of the operational programmes: planned and delivered investments. Associating financial reporting with the categorisation codes allows to gather in-depth information about the activities financed by the programmes supported by cohesion policy, mapping expenditure in structured categories that are comparable across programmes. The categorisation system therefore provides a crucial source of reliable information, that is at the heart of monitoring, evaluation  and policy analysis, and is widely used in reporting to stakeholders. 
Since the 2014-2020 period, intervention fields have been used to track cohesion policy investments in climate-related activities, allowing to measure the contribution of the policy to the European Green Deal. In 2021-27, the contribution of each intervention field to climate and environmental objectives is set out by Annex I of the CPR. Similarly to the 2014-20 period, in 2021-27 intervention fields will also be used for informal tracking, such as tracking of biodiversity and clean air investments. 

Coverage of the planned financial data by dimension   

In adopted programmes categorisation data is provided for all funds in 4 or 5 dimensions: 
  • Intervention fields
  • Gender Equality
  • Territorial delivery mechanism / territorial focus
  • Form of support 
  • and ESF+ secondary theme for ESF+ programmes
A limited number of exceptions apply in the categorisation system:
  • The sum of EUR allocations to ESF+ secondary theme codes exceeds the total ESF+ allocated in cases where several secondary themes are relevant.

  • The dimensions "Territorial delivery mechanism / territorial focus" and "Form of support" are not provided in adopted programmes for Technical assistance.
  • Interreg programmes do not encode the Gender equality dimension 
  • The specific objective ESO4.13 - addressing material derivation was not required to provided categorisation data. Shadow Intervention field values (Code 999) have been created by the Commission to complete the ESF+ allocations.
Use the filters in the chart below to see the data EU funding coverage by dimension by MS (country) Policy Objective, Specific Objective, fund and intervention field (category short title).  

Dimension 1: Intervention field

The intervention field codes provide a complete overview of EU planned financing mapped to 182 activities or actions.
The codes are used for multiple tracking mechanisms including for Climate action, Biodiversity financing, Digital transition, Clean air investment and contributions to the UN SDGs. 
The chart below displays the EU allocations to intervention field by fund. 
- Use the filters (top right of chart) to filter by fund, MS (country), Intervention field category/ies or programme;
- Use the drill down/up buttons (top left of chart) explore by MS (country) /programme;
- You can also click on a fund bar to drill down to explore 
by MS (country) / programme;
- You can apply a drill down after selecting a filter
- Use the chart/table toggle buttons (bottom left) to see a table of the the data visualised in the chart.  Copy paste the values to extract the values (NB there may be more than one page of values).   

Dimension 2: Form of support

There are 6 codes for "form of support". Grants are the most popular form of support overall. 

The allocations to financial instruments are set out in this data story in more detail.    

Dimension 3: Territorial delivery mechanism and territorial focus

The dimension is composed of 33 codes. 

The codes can also be regrouped to present information on 
  • Sustainable Urban Development (SUD codes) - see this dedicated data story.
  • Integrated approaches under Integrated Territorial Initiatives (ITIs) and Community Led Local Development (CLLD)
The chart below presents the allocation to the 33 codes by fund. 

Dimension 4: Economic activity 

No information is provided on this dimension in programming.  

Dimension 5: Location

No information is provided on this dimension in programming.  

Dimension 6: ESF+ Secondary Theme

Under the ESF+ 10 secondary theme codes are available in programming.

In contrast to other dimensions the sum of the amounts allocated exceeds the ESF+ total funding. This is because there may be overlaps between the allocations attributed to different codes (for instance, an action may be relevant under "10 Addressing challenges identified in the European Semester" and in relation to "02 Developing digital skills and jobs").

Dimension 7: Gender equality

There are 3 codes in the gender equality dimension.  Over 30% (EUR 110 billion) of all cohesion policy investments will support gender equality in the 2021-2027 period, either through direct gender equality measures or gender mainstreaming. The table below presents the contribution of the three funds to gender equality. It distinguishes between gender mainstreaming and gender targeting measures. The ESF+ is the largest contributing fund under the gender equality dimension. The Interreg programmes are not required to report planned values under this dimension in programming.

The Gender equality dimension is presented in more detail in this data story.  

Dimension 8: Macro-regional and Sea-basin strategies

No information is provided on this dimension in programming.  

4. The evolution of the categorisation system


Single-dimension categorisation system and irregular reporting concerning planned values only. 


  • The categorisation system was composed of 5 dimensions;
  • Categorisation information was only collected with reference to planned investments;
  • No formal tracking systems; 
  • Allocations to categorisation dimensions and codes reported in the 2007-2013 Final reports: 
    Data set.



  • The categorisation system is still composed of 8 dimensions, but the two territorial dimensions were merged, and thematic objectives abandoned. The "Gender equality" and "Macro-regional and Sea-basin strategies" were added. 
  • Information on categorisation of selected investments and declared expenditure will be reported five times per year. 
  • Formal climate and environmental tracking established by
    CPR Annex I 
    Informal biodiversity, clean air and digital tracking. 

5. Find out more about cohesion policy's categorisation system 2014-2020

2014-2020 categorisation 
2014-20 climate-related investments
2014-2020 use of financial instruments
2014-20 support to rural areas
2014-20 clean air investments
2014-20 biodiversity investment

6. More information

The metadata on the 2021-2027 categorisation system is available in this dataset
The first financial categorisation data from the adopted programmes (planned investments) was published here in October 2022. 
Once programmes are adopted they will then begin to report categorisation data on implementation. The data on implementations is planned to be published in mid 2024 (after one year of implementation) and will afterwards be refreshed  regularly.
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Date of text: first published in July 2021. 
Author: Caterina SCARPA