Tracking cohesion policy investment by type of territory

1. What are  "territory types"?

Cohesion policy programming takes place in different territorial contexts.  In order to better understand these contexts, programmes are asked to provide information on the "territorial dimension" in the planning phase and, annually, in implementation.

1.1 What types of territories are we talking about? 

Seven territorial codes were defined for the 2014-2020 period. 
Codes 01-03 define territories in line with the EUROSTAT typology of degree of urbanisation.  The typology is based on a cross EU analysis of population location and density using the sq km population grid. The degree of urbanisation distinguishes three types of local administrative units (LAU): 
  • Code 01: Cities (Densely populated areas) with the majority of the population living in an urban centre of more than 50 000 inhabitants; 
  • Code 02: Towns and suburbs (Intermediate density areas) with the majority of the population living in an urban cluster with more than 5 000 inhabitants; 
  • Code 03: Rural areas (Thinly populated areas) with a majority of the population living in rural grid cells (cells outside urban clusters).
NB: Cities have 42% of the EU population, small urban areas have 31% and rural areas 27%. 
Four other codes are included as follows: 
  • Code 04: If the operation is a priority in the context of a macro-regional strategy the managing authority should use the specific code provided to identify it. Many operations take place in a macro-region but their primary benefits are local, regional or national. This code should be used only for operations which have a strong / primary contribution to the macro-regional strategies. 
  • Code 05: To be used if the operation is a cooperation project across national or regional programmes funded from national or regional programmes (i.e. a cooperation project outside of the ETC goal); 
  • Code 06: To be used if the operation is an ESF transnational operation; 
  • Code 07: To be used if none of the dimension codes above are applicable. In particular, if the project does not have a particular link with a physical location or population within a specific urban or rural context defined under Codes 01, 02 or 03 above. 

1.2 What about Mountains, Islands and other types of territories? 

In relation to other specific territories – Ultra peripheral regions (RUPs), Islands, Mountains, Sparsely populated regions - codes for these purposes were not defined for 2014-2020 (in contrast to the period 2007-2013). 
The Commission considers that RUPs territories can more reliably be identified at the level of the specific programmes. 
For the Islands, Mountains and Sparsely populated regions the Commission has listed the NUTS 3 regions (2010 NUTS classification) that would be so characterised. These are available in this open data reference or lookup tableIn overview that reference table identifies a total number of specific territories as follows: 
  • 319 Mountainous regions;
  • 70 Island regions;
  • 18 Sparsely populated regions. 

2. Planned amounts by territory type

2.1 An overview by cohesion policy fund

The chart below shows how EU funding is planned to be used by territory type under each cohesion policy fund or initiative.
There are strong variations in the degree to specificity available during planning with more than 50% of ERDF finances allocated to a specific territory type, but only 10% of YEI allocated specifically. 
It should also be pointed out the volume of finances allocated to specific territory types is likely to be underestimated for several reason: 
  • With around half of cohesion policy investments not categorised by territorial type it is nonetheless likely that there are benefits for specific types of territories not reported;
  • Many investments covers both urban and rural areas and may therefore not be classified under either type (this “integrated approach” to territorial development is one of the goals of the policy);
  • Planned allocations to one territory type may nonetheless have spillover effects in another (for instance, investments made to improve the businesses or social infrastructure of a small town can be registered as urban, but benefit the surrounding rural area).

2.2 An overview by member state

The chart below shows how, by member states, how national and regional programmes  have planned to use EU funding by territory type. There are strong variations by member state in the allocation of planned finances to the territory codes: 
  • More than 70% of planned allocation are assigned to "not applicable" in the following countries (l-r) ES, RO, UK, HR,  BG, EE, BE, CY, DK .  In information terms this brings weak insight for those countries
  • In contrast some countries assign more than 70% to specific territory types, (l-r) DE, FI, IE, AT and LU.

3. Tracking implementation

Cohesion programmes report the categorisation data on financial implementation at the end of January each year. The data can be matched with the planned amount to track investment progress in terms of decided (selected) projects and their expenditure in total costs (with EU share estimated). 

3.1 Overview of implementation by territory type

The financial implementation can be analysed to benchmark progress territory type as set out below. It show that the implementation under the "not applicable" and two urban territory types are broadly similar as a proportion of planned (they progress as a similar pace).  By end 2018 progress in rural territories shows higher decided and spending rates. 

3.2 Comparing progress by MS in relation to implementing support:  rural areas (an example)

The monitoring data allow users to benchmark rates of progress against the planned targets across member states (and programmes). 

In the chart below you can see the rate of progress in selecting projects in rural areas against the programme planned amounts. 
  • Reports from several member states suggest that they have exceeded the planned amounts to rural areas in terms of decided (selected) amounts (l-r: IT, HU, GR, BG, PT)
  • Other MS also show high rates of progress (l-r: PL, RO, TC Interreg, LT, SK). 
The data also allows tracking the spending to see if ultimately it follows the targets and the decided (selected) amounts. 
Note: The financial volumes should not be viewed in isolation. Expenditure per capita in predominantly rural regions (which often include towns) in the programming periods 2000-06 and 2007-2013 was significantly higher for ERDF and CF than in predominantly urban or intermediate regions.

5. Contact

REGIO-EVAL@ec.europa.eu -  REGIO.B2 -  J Walsh
Text 2019/09