The European Regional Development Fund / Cohesion Fund

European Regional Development Fund

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), one of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), contributes to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as aims to reinforce economic, social and territorial cohesion in EU regions and cities.

For 2014-2020, the ERDF has an overall budget of almost EUR 200 billion to support economic growth, create additional jobs and reduce regional disparities.

The ERDF support can be provided through grants and, increasingly, through financial instruments.

By the end of 2013, the ERDF had paid over EUR 11.5 billion into financial instruments providing loans, guarantees and equity in almost every EU Member State. Over 290 000 individuals and firms had received support for business development, urban projects and investments in energy efficiency and renewable energies with the support of the ERDF and in synergy with the European Social Fund (ESF).

In the programming period 2014-2020 managing authorities plan to deploy EUR 20 billion through financial instruments, both ERDF and Cohesion Fund (CF) altogether. At the end of the year 2015, the total volume of the Operational Programme contributions committed to the financial instruments amounted to EUR 5 005.25 million for these two Funds.

Financial instruments can contribute to the achievement of a broad set of ERDF investment priorities, for instance:

  • Promoting business investment in Research & Innovation;
  • Extending broadband deployment and the roll-out of high-speed networks and developing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products, services and e-commerce;
  • Supporting the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to grow and to engage in innovation processes, including developing new business models;
  • Promoting the production and distribution of renewable energy, of energy efficiency and renewable energy in enterprises, in public infrastructure and housing;
  • Investments for adaptation to climate change;
  • Investing in the waste and water sectors;
  • Improving the urban environment, including regeneration of brownfield sites;
  • Supporting industrial transition towards a low-carbon economy; and
  • Supporting multimodal and environmentally-friendly transport and regional mobility.

Financial instruments co-funded by the ERDF can therefore be used to support a wide range of projects, from public infrastructure or productive investment projects, to support for households to improve the energy efficiency performance of their homes.

For further information, please consult the fi-compass factsheet on ERDF financial instruments.

Cohesion Fund

The CF encourages investments in priority trans-European transport networks and investments related to energy or transport that benefit the environment in terms of energy efficiency, use of renewable energy, developing transport and supporting intermodal transport.


The CF has an overall budget of EUR 63 billion for 2014-2020. This support is provided to Member States whose Gross National Income per inhabitant is less than 90 % of the EU average. For the 2014-2020 period, the CF is available in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

For further information, please consult the fi-compass factsheet on CF financial instruments.

ERDF/CF under the 2021-2027 Multiannual financial framework

The new ERDF/CF Regulation (Regulation EU 2021/1058) entered into force on 1 July 2021.

In the 2021-2027 period, cohesion policy will support, through its investments, the following five priorities:

  1. Smarter Europe, through innovation, digitisation, economic transformation and support to small and medium-sized businesses
  2. a Greener, carbon free Europe, implementing the Paris Agreement and investing in energy transition, renewables and the fight against climate change
  3. a more Connected Europe, with strategic transport and digital networks
  4. a more Social Europe, delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights and supporting quality employment, education, skills, social inclusion and equal access to healthcare
  5. a Europe closer to citizens, by supporting locally-led development strategies and sustainable urban development across the EU.

The majority of the investment will target the first two priority areas and, following the introduction of the amended regulation in 2020, cohesion policy will also continue to promote job creation in small and medium enterprises, provide support to the health sector, improve preparedness related to unexpected emergencies, and fully develop the economic potential of tourism and culture sectors.

With the inclusion of an additional EUR 47.5 billion from the Next Generation EU fund, the EU has allocated more than EUR 370 billion to its economic, social and territorial cohesion policies for the 2021-2027 period. With the enhanced flexibility for use of financial instruments under the new Common Provisions Regulation (Regulation EU 2021/1060), including in combination with grant, it is expected that Member States will increasingly use guarantee, loan and equity investments for the implementation of their Operational Programmes.

The package of Cohesion Policy legislation also includes the new regulation on the Just Transition Fund (Regulation EU 2021/1056) which is a key element of the European Green Deal and the first pillar of the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM). It aims to alleviate the social and economic costs resulting from the transition towards a climate-neutral economy, through a wide range of activities directed mainly at diversifying the economic activity and helping people adapt in a changing labour market.

Information from fi-compass for ERDF financial instruments

On this website, ERDF stakeholders can find a lot of useful and interesting information to improve their decision-making about financial instruments.

For example:

Publications featuring a range of advice about different financial instrument products, as well as the steps involved in developing an action plan along four logical phases of a financial instrument’s life cycle.

Videos, such as a short film explaining the ex-ante assessment process for ESIF financial instruments, provide a quick overview on how managing authorities can efficiently understand the investment needs in their area.

ERDF case study material in the website's library contains information describing instruments supporting SMEs, climate action, and urban developments as well as other ERDF loans (including microfinance), equity and guarantees.

Advice and information on the website from speakers at fi-compass events offer further ways to learn from others' experiences about ERDF financial instruments in practice.

The website's news articles also feature ERDF-related reviews of relevant regulatory updates as well as new information from active ERDF financial instruments.