In profile: EU cohesion spending 
by NUTS regions


1. Introduction

We are frequently approached by users for data on cohesion policy financing broken down using the Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics - the NUTS classification. The requests for NUTS data often include the following elements: 
  • Information on EU planned, committed or expenditure amounts; 
  • An annual breakdown, or a breakdown for a defined period(s);
  • Breakdown for specific thematic fields. 
Unfortunately, the Commission does not have available data that is systematically and uniformly available at NUTS 2 / NUTS 3 level. The different sources of financial data may also have limitations on annual availability and on the degree of thematic detail.
That said some possible paths are available to do territorial analysis. Several options are available: 
  • OPTION 1: Use the various sources of 2014-2020 financial data and estimate the support to NUTS 2 regions (apportioning programme allocations using NUTS lookup tables);
  • OPTION 2: Use the (partial) reported location data for selected projects, where it is most complete;  
  • OPTION 3: Use the historic EU payments dataset mapped to NUTS 2 regions; 
  • OPTION 4: Explore the list of operations in cases where the data on location (NUTS 2 / NUTS 3 / mail addresses) is  made available.
Below we expand on what is and is not available at NUTS level with links to available resources.

2. Is Cohesion Funding allocated by NUTS regions?  

No. The EU Budget's cohesion policy funding is not systematically pre-allocated to NUTS regions.
Socio-economic statistics at NUTS 2 level are used to define the "category of region" status of the NUTS 2 regions.  The 2014-2020 categories of region set out in the legislation are "less developed", "transitional" and "more developed".  Eurostat NUTS level socio economic statistics play a role in the calculation of the amount of cohesion policy financing allocated to each member states at the beginning of a "programming period" (i.e. the 2014-2020 period covers seven years).  Once the national EU funding envelope is calculated by category of region the member states propose how the financing will be managed through national and/or regional programmes.  
This leads to the following situation: 
  • The Commission does not allocate EU funding expressly to NUTS2 regions but rather to "programmes" and "categories of region";
  • For national or multi regional programmes there are no dedicated allocations to NUTS 2 regions but rather aggregate figures by "category of region";
  • Many (regional) programmes cover one specific region and in those cases the funding is effectively allocated to a NUTS2 region (significant resources in some countries are allocated to NUTS2, i.e. France, Italy, Spain);
  • For every programme the Commission has information on the "programme area" mapping the NUTS2 regions to each cohesion policy programme. That data is presented in a structured form for 2014-2020 in this NUTS "lookup" dataset.    
The data on planned EU allocations available to the Commission is not complete at NUTS 2 level.  It would be possible to take the available financial data and use the NUTS Lookup data to apportion finances. But any such calculation would involve approximation. The Commission does not make its own calculations of the estimated planned EU amounts by NUTS 2 region. See the section below on EU historic payment data by NUTS 2  region. 

3. The main data sources for EU financial support to programmes (2014-2020) [OPTION 1]

The following datasets are disaggregated by programme. Disaggregation of the financial amounts by NUTS 2 would require the apportioning of data in national or multi regional programmes .
For that purpose researchers could use this NUTS "lookup" dataset combined with an appropriate attribution key (such as regional population, or other).   

3.1 EU "finances planned" and "finances implemented" 

3.2 EU Payments

For users interested in EU payments by programme (without thematic information)

3.3 Detailed thematic data on implemented operations with location [OPTION 2]

In preparing cohesion policy programmes the national and regional authorities breakdown the financial data in an information system called the "categorisation systems".  Programmes must provide detailed thematic information on the planned use of EU resources, but not on the expected NUTS 2 or NUTS 3 locations.
During implementation, once projects and operations are selected for support, the programmes report on the location of the projects using NUTS codes.  This data is of variable levels of detail, but in some cases extensive detail is available by NUTS 2 and NUTS 3 levels (c.f.  Czechia).  
This data story to the right explains the overall categorisation system in more detail.  
Finance Datasets  with Detailed themes + locations (categorisation data) 
The interactive chart below shows a sample of the contents of the 2014-2020 programmes data for Czechia, which is substantially allocated to NUTS2 regions. Use the interactive filters to explore other countries / specific programmes / specific themes. 

4. Other sources of Financial data at NUTS level

4.1 Member states list of operations  [OPTION 3]

In the context of "shared" management it is the member states that select and monitor the hundreds of thousand of projects supported. They must also publish lists of beneficiaries. The Commission webpages listed below provide direct links to national lists of beneficiaries:
The linked websites are managed by the respective member states under their sole responsibility. The information provided is subject to regular updates. Under the rules governing the implementation of the funds 2014-2020 the member states must publish the name of the beneficiary, the activity funded and the amount of public funding allocated. The full list of details to be provided under the Cohesion Policy funds (ERDF/ESF/Cohesion Fund) are set out in Article 115 and Annex XII of EU No 1303/2013. Many of the national and regional programmes also provide information on location and sometimes even addresses.
This study conducted in 2020 for DG REGIO explored the operations lists and provided an assessment of the availability of location information for the 2014-2020 programmes :  A pilot project to collect, clean and assess the list of operations produced by cohesion policy programmes at national, regional level
JRC dataset of RTDI projects 2014-2020 mapped to NUTS location
Data on R&I projects co-funded by the ERDF in the 2014-2020 period, including NUTS 2 (if possible NUTS 3) regional information, collected by the Joint Research Centre is available here: https://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/synergies-tool.
The data collection is based on the Member States' lists of operations referred to above.
The detailed technical documentation is available here: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC120637…

4.3 Data on earlier programme periods

The availability of robust and comparable data becomes more problematic as we examine earlier financing periods because of the lower level of detail in the data collected and reported by national and regional programmes to the Commission. 
Historic EU payments data mapped to NUTS 2 [OPTION 4]
In 2018 the Commission published for the first time a data set covering multiple funds (under shared management) and programme periods with EU payments made by NUTS 2 regions.   That dataset was updated in 2020. 
The EU payments by year are broken down by fund and programme period with the use of 1) reported NUTS 2 spending and 2) apportioned NUTS 2 spending. The interactive chart below shows the complete aggregation by year across programme period with filters by country and NUTS 2 region, etc. 
The data story on the right presents the historic data and includes links to the reports produced on the construction of the dataset.  
2007-2013
Categorisation raw data from closure reports 
Under the period 2007-2013, this dataset provides information about:
  • Priority themes (similar to intervention fields for the 2014-2020 period);  
  • Form of Finance;
  • Territorial context;
  • Location NUTS codes
    (
    note however that not all programmes are set at NUTS 2 or NUTS 3 level and not all report projects at NUTS 2 or NUS 3);
  • Economic Dimension;
The complete list of priority themes for the 2007-2013 period can be found under Annex IV of the Structural Funds regulation for 2007-2013.
The interactive chart below shows a sample of the contents of the 2007-2013 closure data for Czechia, which is substantially allocated to NUTS2 regions. Use the interactive filters to explore other countries / specific programmes / specific themes. 
Ex post evaluation 2007-2013: study on geography of expenditure (2015)
Before the construction of the historic EU payments dataset above, the Commission piloted the building of ad-hoc datasets to estimate how EU payments made to programmes matched with NUTS 2 regions. In particular work was conducted under a specific consultancy contract conducted as part of the 2007-2013 ex post evaluation. 
For the 2007-2013 programming period, the cumulated financial values by priority theme at NUTS 2 region level are limited to the cumulative values to the end of years 2012 and 2013 and therefore does not cover the whole programming period. The exercise was not repeated at closure in 2016-2017. The 2007-2013 datasets below are therefore incomplete.
Ex Post evaluation of 2007-2013 RTD 
An EC evaluation examining the impact of investments in RTD infrastructure and activities in the period 2007-2013 collected information on the large majority of projects supported under categories of expenditure linked to research to inform the evaluation. Project-level information (including NUTS location) was collected on 11,400 beneficiaries of ERDF support in 17 Member States. These projects represent the majority of the overall EU expenditure 2007-2013 (76% or EUR 13 billion).

5. Reusing #CohesionOpenData

Refer to the guide to the right to find tips on how to quickly reuse the categorisation data presented on the Cohesion Open Data Platform. 
Many of the tips can be applied to other datasets.   

More on the Cohesion Open Data Platform: ODP BLOG - Presentation of the ODP (ppt) - ODP FAQ - User Guide to ODP - Data catalogue
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@RegioEvaluation #ESIFopenData
Contact: REGIO-EVAL@ec.europa.eu
Text: May 2021