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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 by the Commission on 28 April 2021.

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.”

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.

European Structural and Investment Funds 2020 Summary Report synthesises the main elements of the findings from all types of evaluations. This can lead to better implementation of the current programmes and provide useful insights for policy learning, also for helping prepare the programmes for 2021-2027. ECOPNET (European Cooperation & Partnership Network) closely follows the latest reports published by the European Commission to guide our partners on recent decisions and future regulations.


The ESI Funds represent €463 billion over the 2014-2020 period that have mobilised a total investment of €644 billion. Their objective is to foster lasting socio-economic convergence, resilience and territorial cohesion.

The ESI Funds are the major source of funding for several headline ambitions of the Von der Leyen Commission. Support for a low-carbon economy as well as for the environment and climate change mitigation and adaptation helps to achieve the ambitious objectives of the European Green Deal. The investments supporting broadband rollout, digital transformation of the economy and technologies, services and skills help to achieve the objective of making Europe fit for the digital age. Supporting enterprises to become more productive and competitive, investing in health and social care, education, skills and housing, as well as addressing particular challenges faced by rural areas and their inhabitants help to build an economy that works for people.

Source: European Commission Press Corner


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