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Commission assesses cohesion policy's achievements: around 1.4 million jobs created in Europe in 2000-2006


26 Apr 2010


Regional Policy

The investment of €123 billion through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) between 2000 and 2006 has had a clear impact in the regions. An estimated 1.4 million jobs were created during this period, 2 000 km of motorways were built and 14 million people drink better water thanks to EU supported projects. These results will be presented today at an evaluation conference in Brussels where Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, will meet representatives from Member States, regions, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the European Court of Auditors.

Commenting on these results, Commissioner Hahn said: “These figures show how important the European cohesion policy is. With our investments we do not only make the European Union visible to our citizens in the regions but we also deliver tangible results to the direct benefit of our economy. By doing this evaluation, we get the opportunity as well to learn from good practices elsewhere and to continuously improve projects and programmes”.

A synthesis report presented today by the Commission wraps up the main findings of the evaluations. It shows how cohesion policy successfully reduced disparities between Member States and regions and how it delivered not only economic development, but also environmental and social development. Key findings include:

Member States report the creation of 710 000 jobs in the EU's least developed regions (the so-called “Objective 1 regions”) and 730 000 in the more developed regions (“Objective 2”) at the end of 2006.

Programmes in Objective 1 regions increased both the long term productive potential of the economies and the level of GDP. The cumulative effect of cohesion policy on GDP from 2000 to 2009 in these regions is estimated to be +0.5% in EU15 and +3.7% in the EU10.

A macro-economic simulation suggests that the entire EU -not just the major beneficiaries- was better off with cohesion policy than without, notably because of increased trade effects.

In the field of enterprise and innovation support:

Small and medium enterprises were the main focus of the ERDF support to business, receiving 83% (€22.9 billion) of such funding. For instance, 40 000 micro-enterprises were created in Germany over the six year period;

Nearly 38 000 research and development projects received support with the creation of over 13 000 new long term research jobs;

In absolute terms, the ERDF made a perceptible contribution to Research & Development (R&D) expenditure in Objective 1 regions, adding some 12% to national spending in Portugal, 7% in Greece and 6% in Spain and even more in some of the EU 10 countries, especially Estonia (where total R&D was twice as large in relation to GDP in 2006 as in 2000);

In the field of transport:

Cohesion policy has improved connectivity throughout Europe. It has supported the building of 2 000 km of motorways (24% of all motorway development in the period) and 4 000 km of rail. For instance, it contributed to a reduction of 20% in travel time on rail corridors in the Czech Republic.

100.000 km of roads were built or improved. As an example, there was a 46% reduction in journey time on major road corridors in Ireland.

The modernization of 31 airports and 45 sea ports was a direct result of EU investments.

Cohesion policy also contributed to improve intermodal links, establishing good connections between ports, airports, road network and rail network. A case study on Haute-Normandie (France) shows how the improvement of connections to the main port at Le Havre benefited the whole regional economy.

In the field of environment:

Cohesion policy has helped lagging regions to raise standards to comply with the EU environmental legislation with €25.5 billion spent on environment-related investment in 2000-2006.

14 million additional people were served by water supply projects (for instance, in Valencia in Spain, water reserves were expanded through the construction of desalination plants and 405 km of pipeline were completed to distribute water to final consumers);

20 million additional people were served by waste water projects, which represents half of the total increase throughout Europe in the period;

The results of these evaluations give an important insight on how to maximise the effects of cohesion policy interventions in the future and will stimulate the debate on the future shape of the policy. The Commission’s report formulates policy recommendations for 2007-13 and beyond. Cohesion policy should be more oriented on performance, with greater concentration of expenditure in particular intervention areas and a greater focus on results from planning and negotiating the programmes right through to their closure.

Note for editors:

Most of the programmes launched in 2000-2006 are now closed, with the deadline for payment reimbursement claims fixed at 30 June 2009 for all countries. An extension until December 2009 was granted to certain Greek programs. For the current period 2007-2013, the implementation of programmes is in full swing (see IP/10/396).

More evaluations, currently under way, look at the effects of the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund.

There are three types of evaluation under cohesion policy: before (ex ante), during and after (ex post) the programming period. Evaluation of cohesion policy is undertaken on a partnership basis, with Member States responsible for ex ante evaluation and the European Commission for ex post evaluation. Both Member States and the European Commission are responsible for evaluation to be carried out during the programming period.

The Commission's synthesis report and all thematic evaluations are available at:

Panorama magazine, "Evaluating Regional Policy – insights and results" :

Consult stories of projects:


European Business and Innovation Centre Network (EBN)
Project Financial Assistant
Environment Director
Youth for Exchange and Understanding International (YEU)
Project Assistant
European Cocoa Association
EU Food Safety & Quality Manager
The European Landowners Organization
Policy Officer