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Cohesion Policy beyond 2020

Cohesion Policy beyond 2020

The European Commission’s legislative proposal for the 2021-2027 Regional Development and Cohesion Policy, which is expected to be agreed on and adopted until mid-2020, aims to modernise Cohesion Policy. The latter is the EU’s main investment policy and one of its most concrete expressions of solidarity. One of the main features of the Commission’s proposal for a modernised Cohesion Policy is the focus on key investment priorities, where the EU is best placed to deliver: the bulk of European Regional Development Fund investments will go towards innovation, support to small businesses, digital technologies and industrial modernisation. The EU funding will also support the shift towards a low-carbon, circular economy and the fight against climate change, delivering on the Paris Agreement.


The new Cohesion Policy will focus its resources on five policy objectives which will drive EU investments in 2021-2027:

  1. A Smarter Europe (innovative and smart economic transformation),
  2. A Greener, carbon free Europe (including energy transition, the circular economy, climate adaptation and risk management),
  3. A more Connected Europe (mobility and ICT connectivity),
  4. A more Social Europe (the European Pillar of Social Rights),
  5. A Europe closer to citizens (sustainable development of urban, rural and coastal areas and local initiatives).


The Commission proposes to strengthen the link between EU funding and the European Semester. Country-Specific Recommendations for policy coordination formulated in the context of the European Semester will be taken into account twice over the budgetary period: in the beginning, for the design of Cohesion Policy programmes, and during the mid-term review, which will help each Member State to streamline the use of EU funds to support the implementation of key reforms agreed with the Commissionin in line with a carefully planned investment roadmap.


The Commission proposes less complex and more aligned implementation rules for the next period, with less red tape and lighter control procedures for businesses and entrepreneurs benefiting from EU support. Thus, one set of rules will cover 7 EU funds implemented in partnership with Member States ('’shared management'’), which will make life easier for programme managers. The Commission proposes 80 simplification measures, including simpler audit requirements and fewer burdens for programmes with good track record and proper functioning of the management and control systems.

The new framework also combines the stability necessary for long-term investment planning with the right level of flexibility in order to cope with unforeseen events. A mid-term review will determine if changes in the programmes are needed for the last two years of the funding period based on emerging priorities, programme performance and most recent country-specific recommendations. Within certain limits, transfers of resources will be possible within EU funds programmes without the need for a formal Commission approval. As a general rule, Member States may decide to make a voluntary contribution of up to 5% of each Fund to new "InvestEU" instrument. Slovenia’s contribution to the fund will be made in order to pursue Cohesion objectives through projects implemented in Slovenia.

More about simplification measures


Revised rules will facilitate synergies and seek complementarities between the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) featuring the new European Social Fund Plus (ESF+). Merging the current European Social Fund (ESF), the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), the Employment and Social Innovation Programme (EaSI) and the EU Health Programme, ESF+ will be the main EU financial instrument to invest in people and a key vector to strengthen social cohesion, improve social fairness and increase competitiveness across Europe in the new Multi-annual Financial Framework. ESF+ programmes will focus on recommendations and country analysis provided under the European Semester of policy coordination, and they will be geared towards making the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality on the ground. Outside of the single rulebook, synergies will be made easier with other EU instruments, like Horizon Europe (Horizon 2020), LIFE, Erasmus+ and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

More about the European Pillar of Social Rights which seeks to deliver new and more effective rights for citizens and builds on 20 key principles.

The Commission proposes a Cohesion Policy for all regions and a more tailored approach to regional development, strongly supporting balanced regional development. 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy will go further local: it will support the development of local development strategies and integrated territorial development programmes by urban, local or other territorial authorities. Thus, the new Cohesion Policy will tailor its interventions to regional and local needs and will target resources where they are most needed to ensure that EU money is spent wisely and strategically.

Interregional and cross-border cooperation will be facilitated by the new possibility for a region to use parts of its own allocation to fund projects anywhere in Europe jointly with other regions. The new generation of interregional and cross-border cooperation (Interreg) programmes will help Member States overcome cross-border obstacles and develop joint services. The Commission proposes a new instrument for border regions and Member States eager to harmonise their legal frameworks, the European Cross-Border Mechanism.

Building on a successful pilot action from 2014-2020, the Commission proposes to create the Interregional Innovative Investments totalling around EUR 900 million to develop European value chains across Europe. Regions with matching smart specialisation assets (incorporation of IPA/ENI programmes foreseen) will be given more support to build pan-European clusters in priority sectors such as big data, circular economy, advanced manufacturing or cybersecurity.


The released proposal for the Regional Development and Cohesion Policy beyond 2020 foresees an overall 10% cut to Cohesion Policy funding. Slovenia is to receive nearly EUR 3.1 billion in the period beyond 2020, which is a nine per cent drop compared to the current programming period. As the negotiation is still underway, the allocation figure might change.

The new Cohesion Policy framework continues investing in all regions and keeps the three different categories of regions, i.e.:

  • less developed regions (GDP per capita at 75% of the EU average),
  • transition regions (GDP per capita varies between 75% and 100% of the EU average),
  • more developed regions (GDP per capita exceeds 100% of the EU average).

Slovenia is divided in two cohesion regions, i.e. Zahodna Slovenija (western Slovenia) and Vzhodna Slovenija (eastern Slovenia). According to the 2016 statistical data, the cohesion region Zahodna Slovenija achieved 99% of the EU average, while Vzhodna Slovenija lagged behind with 68% of the EU average, setting the overall country figure at 83% of the EU average.

In terms of financial allocation, Slovenia called for a smooth transition between the current and the upcoming period. Slovenia welcomes the fact that the proposed Cohesion Policy budget did not undergo a radical cut stressing that the proposed allocation will enable it to deliver on commitment to invest in structural transformation of all regions across the country, even though Zahodna Slovenija has been keeping pace with the average level of economic development in the EU, and will no longer be considered a transition region.

The Commission believes EU funding should only complement national counterpart, and the upcoming period will see lower co-financing rates applied. This decision was driven by the need to enhance the sense of responsibility for and ownership of the project by the beneficiaries. The maximum co-financing rate in less developed regions now stands at 70%, and accounts for a maximum of 55% for transition regions (developed regions are eligible up to a maximum of 40-per cent co-financing).  




A long and heated negotiation between the Member States and among the EU institutions on the 2021-2027 financial framework is expected in the upcoming months, and a series of debates and panels on the future of Cohesion Policy in Slovenia bringing together various national stakeholders.

Stay up to date with the latest news on post-2020 Cohesion Policy by visiting Commission websites for regional development and social affairs