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European Regional Development Fund

Overall budget available

The ERDF budget for 2021-2027 is around €200 billion

What is the goal of the funding programme?

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) seeks to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU by correcting imbalances between its regions. It is a key element of the EU’s Cohesion Policy.

How is the funding programme structured?

To achieve his goal, ERDF is set out around 5 Priority Objectives (PO):

  1. Increased competitiveness, through innovation and support to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as digitalisation and digital connectivity
  2. Green, low-carbon, and resilienceIncreased connectivity by enhancing mobility
  3. Increased social inclusion, supporting effective and inclusive employment, education, skills, social inclusion, and equal access to healthcare, as well as enhancing the role of culture and sustainable tourism
  4. Increased support to locally-led development and sustainable urban development

ERDF provides investments to develop infrastructures, productive investments in enterprises and "soft" support (consultancy services and advice), thus strengthening public policies. EU support is predominantly provided through grants but also through financial instruments.

What thematic areas are covered?

ERDF is one of the main funds from the EU cohesion policy managed by DG REGIO. The treaties guiding REGIO’s activities provide that, in order to strengthen its economic, social and territorial cohesion, the Union is to aim at reducing disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the least favoured regions, and that particular attention is to be paid to rural areas, areas affected by industrial transition and regions which suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps.

The design of the 2021-2027 programmes, which focuses resources on environmental and climate spending under the second policy objective, will allow regions to benefit from economic opportunities arising from the green transition.

What is in it for the social economy?

The ERDF’s funding priorities - for a Europe that is more competitive and smarter, greener, more connected, more social and closer to citizens - align the purpose and work of all social economy organisations. More specifically, the ERDF seeks to invest for growth and jobs and in territorial cooperation. As such, ERDF can be a means by which social economy organisations, often implementing concrete solutions to local social and economic challenges, can develop and/or provide innovative solutions to identified needs at regional and transnational levels, in cooperation with local authorities.

Who is eligible to apply?

  • Organisations that can benefit from regional funding include public bodies
  • some private sector organisations (especially small businesses)
  • universities
  • associations
  • NGOs and voluntary organisations.
  • Foreign firms with a base in the region covered by the relevant operational programme can also apply, provided they meet European public procurement rules.
  • Project promoters in countries that are candidates or potential candidates for EU membership should contact the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).

In most cases, funding is granted to projects, so you need to develop a project to be eligible for funding, which you will then receive at different stages of the process.

How to apply?

  • Understand the programme: Familiarize yourself with the objectives and priorities of the ERDF. This will help you determine if your project aligns with the programme's goals.
  • Before applying for a grant, you should check the European operational programmes in your region. Your project application must meet the selection criteria and investment priorities of your regional programme.
  • The programme is managed in shared responsibility between the EC and national and regional authorities in Member States. The Member States’ administrations choose which projects to finance and take responsibility for day-to-day management. You need to contact your national managing authority, to find out who it is click here.
  • You will have to follow the application procedures of the relevant managing authority.

Where to find more information?

How to contact organisations who manage the programme?

  • The ERDF is delivered under shared management. Local authorities call for projects adapted to their specific needs, to find out who it is click here.
  • The Europe Direct    information relays, with hundreds of information points all over Europe
  • The Enterprise Europe Network provides expert advice to small businesses on how to access EU public funds and grants for research and development, innovation, investment, employment and training.

Organisations who provide support?

  • The European team in your local authority or chamber of commerce can provide tailor-made information.
  • Your national or regional authorities, networks, and incubators are the best entry points to access to tailor-made information regarding your needs!

Background information

History of the programme

The ERDF was set up in 1975 and provides financial support for the development and structural adjustment of regional economies, economic change, enhanced competitiveness as well as territorial cooperation throughout the EU. The in five policy objectives of the ERDF in 2021-2027 correspond to the 11 thematic objectives in 2014-2020 presented in a new structure. With this structure the funds are leaner while maintaining the logic of the previous period.

Responsible Directorate-General in the European Commission

The Leading DG is Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy. Other Directorate-General are associated: CNECT, ECFIN, HOME, MARE, MOVE, RTD


2021 - 2027