The 2007-2013 Structural and Cohesion Funds
The European Council of December 2005 agreed a total Structural and Cohesion Funds budget of €308 billion for 2007-13. As a result of the agreement, the UK will continue to receive substantial Structural Funds receipts, amounting to €9.4 billion (2004 prices), for 2007-13.
The Structural and Cohesion Funds are divided into three separate funds:
- European Regional Development Fund (ERDF);
- European Social Fund (ESF);
- Cohesion Fund.
These are used to meet the three objectives of Cohesion and Regional policy, of which the Structural Funds are an instrument: Convergence (ERDF; ESF and Cohesion Fund), Regional Competitiveness and Employment (ERDF; ESF) and European Territorial Co-operation (ERDF).
Compared to the previous period 2000-2006, the major changes to Cohesion and Regional policy, of which the Funds are an instrument, are:
- More clearly focused on the renewed Growth and Jobs (Lisbon) Agenda, thus stimulating more ownership of the agenda at regional and local level. For instance the level of expenditure to be earmarked for the Lisbon Agenda in the UK is 60 % for Convergence regions and 75 % for regions under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective;
- Modernised through a new architecture, including a more strategic approach. The need for each Member State to produce a National Strategic Reference Framework is a good example of this;
- Simpler and more efficient operation, for example, the number of instruments have been reduced from six to three, a new “proportionality” principle will provide for less bureaucracy, the number of programming steps will be reduced from three to two, national eligibility rules apply instead of Community rules, and Member States and regions are asked to take more responsibility and be more transparent in their management of the Funds.