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Investment Priorities: What are they? What is their use?

2014-2020 Interreg projects are submited to an intervention logic that is part of a comprehensive development and investment framework encompassing all of the ESI Funds – European Structural and Investment Funds (among which is ERDF – European Regional Development Fund). Thematic objectives and investment priorities are key cornerstones of this framework.

Thematic objectives and investment priorities can be used for searching projects and partners in keep.eu (2014-2020 programming period only), since all projects contribute to the thematic objectives and investment priorities of their financing programmes.

Overall, for all ESI Funds, there are 11 thematic objectives. ERDF further divides nine of these thematic objectives into 38 investment priorities.

Furthermore, in the case with Interreg (European Territorial Cooperation) – one of the two ERDF objectives – there are four additional investment priorities applying to the cross-border strand, one additional investment priority applying to the transnational strand, and three additional investment priorities applying to the interregional strand.

In Interreg alone, each cross-border cooperation and transnational programme focuses at least 80 % of its ERDF allocation on a maximum of four of the thematic objectives applying to all ESI funds.

List of thematic objectives (numbers between brackets) and investment priorities (letters between brackets) applying to ERDF programmes in the 2014-2020 period:

  • (1) strengthening research, technological development and innovation by:
    • (a) enhancing research and innovation (R&I) infrastructure and capacities to develop R&I excellence, and promoting centres of competence, in particular those of European interest;
    • (b) promoting business investment in R&I, developing links and synergies between enterprises, research and development centres and the higher education sector, in particular promoting investment in product and service development, technology transfer, social innovation, eco-innovation, public service applications, demand stimulation, networking, clusters and open innovation through smart specialisation, and supporting technological and applied research, pilot lines, early product validation actions, advanced manufacturing capabilities and first production, in particular in key enabling technologies and diffusion of general purpose technologies;
  • (2) enhancing access to, and use and quality of, ICT by:
    • (a) extending broadband deployment and the roll-out of high-speed networks and supporting the adoption of emerging technologies and networks for the digital economy;
    • (b) developing ICT products and services, e-commerce, and enhancing demand for ICT;
    • (c) strengthening ICT applications for e-government, e- learning, e-inclusion, e-culture and e-health;
  • (3) enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs by:
    • (a) promoting entrepreneurship, in particular by facilitating the economic exploitation of new ideas and fostering the creation of new firms, including through business incubators;
    • (b) developing and implementing new business models for SMEs, in particular with regard to internationalisation;
    • (c) supporting the creation and the extension of advanced capacities for product and service development;
    • (d) supporting the capacity of SMEs to grow in regional, national and international markets, and to engage in innovation processes;
  • (4) supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors by:
    • (a) promoting the production and distribution of energy derived from renewable sources;
    • (b) promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy use in enterprises;
    • (c) supporting energy efficiency, smart energy management and renewable energy use in public infrastructure, including in public buildings, and in the housing sector;
    • (d) developing and implementing smart distribution systems that operate at low and medium voltage levels;
    • (e) promoting low-carbon strategies for all types of territories, in particular for urban areas, including the promotion of sustainable multimodal urban mobility and mitigation-relevant adaptation measures;
    • (f) promoting research and innovation in, and adoption of, low-carbon technologies;
    • (g) promoting the use of high-efficiency co-generation of heat and power based on useful heat demand;
  • (5) promoting climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management by:
    • (a) supporting investment for adaptation to climate change, including ecosystem-based approaches;
    • (b) promoting investment to address specific risks, ensuring disaster resilience and developing disaster management systems;
  • (6) preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency by:
    • (a) investing in the waste sector to meet the requirements of the Union’s environmental acquis and to address needs, identified by the Member States, for investment that goes beyond those requirements;
    • (b) investing in the water sector to meet the requirements of the Union’s environmental acquis and to address needs, identified by the Member States, for investment that goes beyond those requirements;
    • (c) conserving, protecting, promoting and developing natural and cultural heritage;
    • (d) protecting and restoring biodiversity and soil and promoting ecosystem services, including through Natura 2000, and green infrastructure;
    • (e) taking action to improve the urban environment, to revitalise cities, regenerate and decontaminate brownfield sites (including conversion areas), reduce air pollution and promote noise-reduction measures;
    • (f) promoting innovative technologies to improve environmental protection and resource efficiency in the waste sector, water sector and with regard to soil, or to reduce air pollution;
    • (g) supporting industrial transition towards a resource- efficient economy, promoting green growth, eco-innovation and environmental performance management in the public and private sectors;
  • (7) promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures by:
    • (a) supporting a multimodal Single European Transport Area by investing in the TEN-T;
    • (b) enhancing regional mobility by connecting secondary and tertiary nodes to TEN-T infrastructure, including multimodal nodes;
    • (c) developing and improving environmentally-friendly (including low-noise) and low-carbon transport systems, including inland waterways and maritime transport, ports, multimodal links and airport infrastructure, in order to promote sustainable regional and local mobility;
    • (d) developing and rehabilitating comprehensive, high quality and interoperable railway systems, and promoting noise-reduction measures;
    • (e) improving energy efficiency and security of supply through the development of smart energy distribution, storage and transmission systems and through the integration of distributed generation from renewable sources;
  • (8) promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility by:
    • (a) supporting the development of business incubators and investment support for self-employment, micro- enterprises and business creation;
    • (b) supporting employment-friendly growth through the development of endogenous potential as part of a territorial strategy for specific areas, including the conversion of declining industrial regions and enhancement of accessibility to, and development of, specific natural and cultural resources;
    • (c) supporting local development initiatives and aid for structures providing neighbourhood services to create jobs, where such actions are outside the scope of Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council (on the European Social Fund);
    • (d) investing in infrastructure for employment services;
  • (9) promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination, by:
    • (a) investing in health and social infrastructure which contributes to national, regional and local development, reducing inequalities in terms of health status, promoting social inclusion through improved access to social, cultural and recreational services and the transition from institutional to community-based services;
    • (b) providing support for physical, economic and social regeneration of deprived communities in urban and rural areas;
    • (c) providing support for social enterprises;
    • (d) undertaking investment in the context of community- led local development strategies;
  • (10) investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and lifelong learning by developing education and training infrastructure;
  • (11) enhancing institutional capacity of public authorities and stakeholders and efficient public administration through actions to strengthen the institutional capacity and the efficiency of public administrations and public services related to the implementation of the ERDF, and in support of actions under the ESF to strengthen the institutional capacity and the efficiency of public administration.

List of investment priorities applying to 2014-2020 Interreg programmes only:

  • (a) under cross-border cooperation:
    • (i) (called 8 ETC) promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility by integrating cross-border labour markets, including cross-border mobility, joint local employment initiatives, information and advisory services and joint training;
    • (ii) (called 9 ETC) promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination by promoting gender equality, equal opportunities, and the integration of communities across borders;
    • (iii) (called 10 ETC) investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and lifelong learning by developing and implementing joint education, vocational training and training schemes;
    • (iv) (called 11 ETC specific for cross-border) enhancing institutional capacity of public authorities and stakeholders and efficient public administration by promoting legal and administrative cooperation and cooperation between citizens and institutions;
  • (b) under transnational cooperation (called 11 ETC specific for transnational): enhancing institutional capacity of public authorities and stakeholders and efficient public administration by developing and coordinating macro-regional and sea-basin strategies;
  • (c) under interregional cooperation: enhancing institutional capacity of public authorities and stakeholders and efficient public administration by:
    • (i) disseminating good practices and expertise and capitalising on the results of the exchange of experience in relation to sustainable urban development, including urban-rural linkages;
    • (ii) promoting the exchange of experience in order to reinforce the effectiveness of territorial cooperation programmes and actions as well as the use of EGTCs;
    • (iii) strengthening the evidence base in order to reinforce the effectiveness of cohesion policy and the achievement of the thematic objectives through the analysis of development trends, good practices and innovative approaches in relation to the implementation of cooperation programmes and actions and to the use of EGTCs.

In the case of the PEACE cross-border programme and within the thematic objective of promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination, the ERDF shall also contribute to promoting social and economic stability in the regions concerned, in particular through actions to promote cohesion between communities.