The focus of the Funds for the upcoming period is shaped by regulations negotiated at EU level. The draft Common Provision Regulations provides that the Funds as a whole shall support the following broad Policy Objectives:
The ERDF aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion by investing in growth-enhancing sectors to improve competitiveness and create jobs. Its primary focus will be on Policy Objectives 1, 2 and 5 (A smarter Europe and a greener, low-carbon Europe and a Europe closer to citizens).
In the 2014-2020 funding period, Ireland was allocated €411 million for two ERDF co-funded Regional Programmes. Information on the programmes is available here ERDF – Northern and Western Regional Assembly Website & Southern Regional Assembly Website.
The ESF+ is the EU’s instrument for investing in people. It aims to improve employment and education opportunities, to enhance social inclusion and to tackle poverty. The ESF+ will primarily address Policy Objective 4 (A more social Europe).
In the 2014-2020 funding period, Ireland was allocated €545 million for an ESF co-funded national programme. Ireland’s allocation also included an additional €68 million provided for the Youth Employment Initiative which is programmed through the ESF. Information on the current ESF programme is available here.
The regulations for the upcoming programming period are still under negotiation and Ireland’s final allocations for ERDF and ESF+ have yet to be decided. Both ERDF and ESF+ are co-financed programmes, meaning that EU funding must be matched by a set percentage of national funding. This co-financing rate varies by region. Ireland will have three NUTS 2 regions in the 2021-2027 round, with two different rates of co-financing. As ‘more developed’ regions, the Southern and the Eastern & Midlands regions will receive 40% in EU financing, while as a ‘transition’ region the North-Western region will receive 55% in EU financing.
European Commission Proposal for a Common Provisions Regulation
European Commission Proposal for an ESF+ Regulation
European Commission Proposal for an ERDF and Cohesion Fund Regulation
Ireland’s 2019 Country Report– note Annex D provides the European Commission’s investment guidance for the use of the Funds.