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12.3.1.  Objectives and resources of the European Funds

    The action taken by the European Union under Article 174 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (ex Article 158 TEC) is designed to strengthen the economic and social cohesion of the enlarged European Union in order to promote its harmonious development. This action is taken with the aid of the Structural Funds, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other existing financial instruments. It is aimed at reducing the economic, social and territorial disparities which have arisen in the enlarged Union, particularly in countries and regions whose development is lagging behind and in connection with economic and social restructuring and the ageing of the population.

    In order to contribute to the Union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and to the Fund-specific missions pursuant to their Treaty-based objectives, including economic, social and territorial cohesion, the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds focus their support on a limited number of common thematic objectives. The precise scope of each of the ESI Funds is set out in Fund-specific rules. That scope can be limited to only some of the thematic objectives defined in Regulation 1303/2013 [last amended by Regulation 2017/1199].

    The objectives of the ESI Funds are be pursued in the framework of sustainable development and the Union's promotion of the aim of preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment as set out in Articles 11 and 191(1) TFEU, taking into account the polluter pays principle. To this end, the Member States should provide information on the support for climate change objectives, in line with the ambition to devote at least 20% of the budget of the Union to those objectives, using a methodology based on the categories of intervention, focus areas or measures adopted by the Commission by means of an implementing act reflecting the principle of proportionality.

    For the period 2014-2020, the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund shall contribute to developing and pursuing the actions of the Union leading to strengthening of its economic, social and territorial cohesion in accordance with Article 174 TFEU pursuing the following goals: (a) Investment for growth and jobs in Member States and regions, to be supported by the three Funds; and (b) European territorial cooperation, to be supported by the ERDF. The actions supported by the Funds shall also contribute to the delivery of the Union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

    The resources for the Investment for growth and jobs goal amount to 96.33% of the global resources (i.e., a total of 313.2 billion for the period 2014-2020 and shall be allocated as follows to the various regions of the Union [see section 12.1.1]:

    (a) 52, 45% (i.e. 164.3 billion EUR) for less developed regions;

    (b) 10, 24% (i.e. 32.1 billion EUR) for transition regions;

    (c) 15, 67% (i.e. 49.1 billion EUR) for more developed regions;

    (d) 21, 19% (i.e. 66.4 billion EUR) for Member States supported by the Cohesion Fund;

    (e) 0,44% (i.e. 1.4 billion EUR) as additional funding for the outermost regions identified in Article 349 TFEU and the NUTS level 2 regions fulfilling the criteria laid down in Article 2 of Protocol No 6 to the 1994 Act of Accession.

    The resources for the European territorial cooperation goal amount to 2.75% of the global resources available for budgetary commitment from the Funds for the period 2014-2020 (i.e., a total of EUR 8.9 billion).

    In order to contribute to the Union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth as well as the Fund-specific missions pursuant to their Treaty-based objectives, including economic, social and territorial cohesion, each ESI Fund shall support the following thematic objectives:

    1)     strengthening research, technological development and innovation

    2)     enhancing access to, and use and quality of, ICT;

    3)     enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs, of the agricultural sector (for the EAFRD) and of the fishery and aquaculture sector (for the EMFF);

    4)     supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors;

    5)     promoting climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management;

    6)     preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency;

    7)     promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures;

    8)     promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility;

    9)     promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination;

    10)  investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and lifelong learning;

    11)  enhancing institutional capacity of public authorities and stakeholders and efficient public administration.

    Thematic objectives are translated into priorities that are specific to each of the ESI Funds and are set out in the Fund-specific rules.

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