The European Structural Funds overall objective is the strengthening of economic and social cohesion in the EU. This goal is pursued through the promotion of growth, innovation and employment at regional level. The share of the lion of the budget of the Structural Funds goes to the most disadvantaged regions.

Nowadays, an important challenge is the adjustment of the EU-structural policies according to the objectives of the new programming period from 2014 – 2020. The European commission claims a strengthening of the orientation of the policy interventions on the guidelines of the union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (’Europe 2020’), the concentration of support on a limited number of thematic objectives and a stronger focus on results. EU-regulation forms the basic principle for the current development of the operational programmes on the national and the regional level. To sustain a high quality-level of the design of each program, an ex-ante evaluation accompanies the development process.

The main funds, being used in Germany are the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) including INTERREG, the European Social Fund (ESF) as well as the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

According to the draft of the german partnership agreement, the german programmes will contribute to the following main objectives in the funding-period of 2014-2020:

  • Strengthening of the regional competitiveness, by supporting research, technological development and innovation, information and communication technologies, support of small and medium sized entreprises as well as the agricultural sector.
  • Sustainable use of energy and ressources by supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors and the promotion of climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management, preserving and protecting environment or sustainable mobility.
  • supporting employment, investing in education and in social inclusion.

With the preparation of the new funding-period, the European commission especially strengthens climate and environmental protection objectives.

The individual programmes are anchored in Germany at the country level. Further information can be found on the Information page of the Info Regio and on the page of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.