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EU Structural Funding Reform

Certain points relating to the new 2014-2020 programming period were deliberated on parallel to developing the new Europe 2020 Strategy for Growth. These were then adopted by the European Council in June 2010. The European strategy's five key objectives for creating smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth were decisive for defining the funding priorities of the EU structural funds.

On 20 December 2013 the regulations for the EU Cohesion Policy 2010-2020 came into force. The European Council and the European Parliament negotiated six regulations based on the proposals made by the European Commission:

The new regulations are intended to strengthen the strategic aspects of cohesion policy and to ensure that EU investments foster Europe's long-term growth and employment objectives ("Europe 2020 Strategy"). On the basis of partnership agreements with the Commission, the Member States will focus on only a few investment priorities consistent with these objectives. The legislation package also harmonizes the rules applicable to the various funds in order to increase the coherency of EU activities.

The Common Strategic Framework: Partnership Agreement

The European Structural and Investment Funds ERDF, the Cohesion Fund, ESF, EAFRD, and EMFF are combined in future in one common strategic framework. They are also geared more rigorously to strengthening competitiveness and employment. In future, economically stronger regions must use 80% and transitional regions must use 60% of ERDF funds for research and innovation, SMEs, and energy efficiency/renewable energy. One of Germany's central demands in this context is the striking of a balance between concentrating strictly on the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy (i.e. supporting competitiveness and growth) and allowing for sufficient flexibility for custom-tailored regional funding strategies. Germany also advocates a more efficient distribution of the funds and a more result-oriented approach to European funding.

A partnership agreement has been prepared at the level of the Member State for the 2014-2020 programming period. It is a national document that describes the overall strategy for Germany in relation to EU structural funding. In addition to the structural funds ERDF and ESF, the agricultural fund EAFRD and the fishery fund EMFF are also included in it. The partnership agreement, which must be drawn up by each Member State and negotiated with the European Commission, defines the strategical direction of the operational programme (OP = funding programme). It simultaneously defines binding objectives with which the European Structural and Investment Funds are to help the EU reach its political goals. The approach taken in the preceding programming period with the "National Strategic Reference Framework" is thus being followed and developed further.

On 22 May 2014, the European Commission accepted the partnership agreement to implement the European Structural and Investment Fund in Germany. Germany is the second EU Member State after Denmark to have its partnership agreement accepted. This is an important step towards ensuring a timely investment of funds from the structural and investment funds without any gap between the new funding and that of the preceding programming period.

Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU

The consensus on the future financial framework of the European Union was a significant milestone for the future of cohesion policy. This political consensus on the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) means that it is almost certain that Germany will also receive EU structural funding. Germany will receive a total of 19.3 billion euros (in current prices) out of the EU structural funds in the 2014-2020 programming period. 9.8 billion euros of this are for the transitional regions (new Länder excluding Leipzig but including Lüneburg) and 8.5 billion euros for the more developed regions.