MEPs adopt greener funds for regional development and cooperation

Parliament adopted on Wednesday three EU funds to strengthen the EU’s economic, social and territorial cohesion with a total of €243 billion, the EP press service reported. The so-called “cohesion package” comprises the European Territorial Cooperation Goal (Interreg), the European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund, as well as the Common Provisions Regulation, a set of norms governing EU regional, cohesion and social funds over the next seven years.

In line with the new common provision rules, both Interreg and the Regional and Cohesion Funds will have to direct at least 30% of their resources to climate action, the circular economy and investments in sustainable growth and job creation. They also foresee specific measures for SMEs and outermost regions.

With a budget of €243 billion, roughly a quarter of the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the Regional and Cohesion Funds are together the largest EU investment tool. In an effort to contribute to the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, they will also support culture, sustainable tourism, digitalisation and making the public health system more resilient.Investments related to nuclear power or fossil fuels are excluded from support, with an exception made for projects on natural gas to replace coal, valid until 31 December 2025.

Interreg will have a budget of €8.05 billion for the 2021-2027 period, with a co-financing rate of 80% overall (85% for outermost regions). The resources - 3% higher than the previous period - are provided by the European Regional Development Fund envelope. Cross-border cooperation will receive 72.2% of these resources, whereas transnational, interregional, and outermost regions’ cooperation will be allocated 18.2%, 6.1% and 3.5% respectively. Up to 20% of funds within an Interreg programme may be allocated to small projects.

In order to receive EU funding, countries will have to comply with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, promote gender equality and fight discrimination.

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