Regional policy is the main EU investment strategy under the EU's cohesion policy (2021-2027). The policy is delivered through five funds, which together form the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). The European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund deliver the majority of the financing. They are jointly administered by the European Commission and national authorities in the EU countries. With the political agreement by the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission's proposals for 2021-2027, all instruments related to cohesion policy have now been agreed and final texts are pending formal approval by the European Parliament and the Council.
Five main objectives will drive EU investments in 2021 to 2027, including two which are relevant for urban mobility:
- a more Connected Europe, with strategic transport and digital networks
- a Greener, carbon free Europe, implementing the Paris Agreement and investing in energy transition, renewables and the fight against climate change.
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
- The ERDF promotes balanced development in the different regions of the EU.
- ERDF finances INTERREG which covers four interregional cooperation programmes. While each programme can support urban transport projects, URBACT specifically focuses on fostering sustainable integrated urban development. URBACT is a European exchange and learning programme that promotes sustainable urban development and helps cities work together to develop pragmatic solutions to urban challenges. URBACT is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, in all EU countries, Norway and Switzerland.
- Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) is an Initiative of the European Union that provides urban areas throughout Europe with resources to test new and unproven solutions to address urban challenges. The assessment study of UIA published in February 2021 recommends retaining fundamental elements of the instrument, as well as revising the selection and implementation process with a view to improving the operational readiness of projects and their relevance to Cohesion Policy 2021-2027.
Cohesion Fund (CF)
The CF supports transport and environment projects and is aimed at Member States whose Gross National Income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90% of the EU average.