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European Structural and Investment Funds


Download: UPDATED EPSO Briefing on European Structural and Investment Funds, 10.7.2017


Summary of the ESIF Briefing

3 Page Summary

ESIF aims to reduce differences in the varying levels of development between regions in Europe. They are therefore implemented at national & regional level, with broad themes and priorities defined at the European level.  ESIF is applied throughout the EU, although the least developed regions and Member States are prioritized.


Main differences between the

European R& I Programme Horizon 2020

European Structural and Investment Funds



Focus on individual R&I projects

Largely focused on improving the R&I capacities and R&I eco-systems

Centrally managed (EC)

Shared management with national and regional public intermediaries

Competitive calls for proposals addressed to international groupings

Policy-related prioritization based on cohesion considerations and RIS3 priorities


For the period of 2014-2020, 11 thematic objectives (TO) were outlined for ESIF, the 4 most relevant to EPSO members are:

o   strengthening research, technological development and innovation

o   enhancing access to, and use and quality of, ICT

o   promoting climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management

o   preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency


ESIF is divided into the following five main funds, four of which support R&I (▲relevance to EPSO):

o   ▲▲The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF/Regional)

  • The most relevant for EPSO members. Aims to correct economic and social imbalances between EU regions.  The budget for the 2014-2020 period is €196 billion, containing up to €61.5 billion dedicated to the theme of R&I, 93.5% of the total for R&I within ESIF. 
  • The ERDF/Regional focuses on investments in 4 key priority areas:

-          innovation and research;

-          the digital agenda;

-          support for SMEs;

-          the low-carbon economy.

o   ▲European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD/Agriculture)

§  Managed under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it supports Rural Development.  €4.2 billion is dedicated to R&I. It mainly achieves this through the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI), for which EPSO has previously produced a comprehensive briefing.  This includes Operational Group, linking farmers, extension services, scientists, and companies.

o   ▲The European Social Fund (ESF/Social)

§  The EU’s main programme for supporting jobs.  It has relevance for EPSO members through opportunities for higher education institutions:  The ESF supports postgraduate studies, training of researchers, networking activities and partnerships between higher education institutions, research institutes and enterprises.

o   Δ European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF/Maritime)

§  The EMFF supports action to connect fisheries and R&I stakeholders. One of the main tools supported by the EMFF is the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet); a consortium of organisations, including research institutions gathering and sharing marine data. The EMFF can also directly finance specific research studies to support the development of new policies in the field of fisheries management. 

o   The Cohesion Fund (CF)

§  Invests in trans-European networks of transport infrastructure and key environmental infrastructure projects.  It does not invest in research.


Each nation or region has significant autonomy in the distribution of these funds and each produces its own programmes, please contact your managing authority in your region to determine your own opportunities, a list is provided in the briefing annex.  In the briefing we will provide an overview of the programme and examples of funding within it.


Synergies with Horizon 2020: The Juncker Commission has the mandate to create synergies between ESIF and Horizon 2020. This political commitment will continue through an upcoming Commission Communication on Smart Specialisation (including synergies) in 2017.

While Horizon 2020 is based on the pursuit of excellence, the ESI Funds address broader economic, social and territorial development. The link is made though the “smart specialisation strategy”, for which responsibility is shared between the European, the Member States and regional levels. The Commission has published a Synergies Guide in 2014 and a brochure of practical examples in 2016.


Printed from on 09/12/18 10:18:21 PM

EPSO is an independent academic organisation currently representing 61 institutional members bringing together more than 204 research institutes, departments and universities from 29 countries in Europe and beyond.