European Structural and Investment Funds: spending doubled in 2019-2020

The rate of investment of the five European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) in the European Union has accelerated significantly in the past two years, from 28% of the total envelope in 2018 to 56% at the end of 2020, according to a report published today by the Commission.

This significant increase in spending in 2020 shows that, despite the exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus crisis, the use of structural funds supporting investment in Europe’s regions has accelerated. This was partly the result of the flexibility introduced in the Cohesion policy legislation provided by the Coronavirus Response Investment initiatives (CRII and CRII+) allowing Member States to redirect unspent resources to the areas most in need of support. Thanks to this measure, more than €22 billion were used to support healthcare sectors, SMEs, employment and vulnerable population groups in almost all Member States with the additional possibility of benefiting from a 100% EU co-financing rate.

Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “There is abundant evidence that ESI Funds support has been effective in many areas and to different types of beneficiaries – both in the public and private sectors and individuals. Whether it’s climate change response, research and innovation, or inclusive growth, the EU added value is striking.”

Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, added: “Cohesion policy is delivering. The figures speak for themselves: the increase in spending testifies to the EU’s solidarity, as our unprecedented response to the coronavirus crisis helps millions of Europeans and businesses get back on their feet and participate in the economic and social recovery.”

ESI funds’ investments are directed to the real economy. To date, 1.6 million businesses have received support to expand, innovate and launch new products, while 184 000 jobs have been created by the end of 2019. Overall, more than 13 million investment projects have been selected for EU support across Europe.

Today’s report provides the fifth biannual overview of the implementation of the national and regional programmes based on their annual programme reports received in September 2020. It is accompanied by a report summarising the evaluation findings in relation to the ESI Funds programmes.

The ESI Funds Open Data platform was also updated today to show the achievements of the ESI Funds programmes until the end of 2019.

 

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