What is ERDF?
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The State of Bremen receives assistance from the structural funds of the European Union (EU). The following pages provide comprehensive information about programmes and projects implemented in Bremen, relevant reports, evaluations, regulations, planning and implementation mechanisms, contacts and other points of interest.
The background to Europe’s structural funds policy
Europe’s structural and cohesion policy is one of the central policy areas of the European Union, accounting for roughly a third of the EU’s budget. This Community policy, which has been anchored in the Treaty since 1986, serves to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the Community, and particularly aims to help regions with weaker economies to catch up with the general economic development. Further to this, it is important to improve the level of training in the workforce and to make it easier for companies to adapt to structural change.
In December 2005, the European Council redefined the objectives of its cohesion policy for 2007 – 2013 in the form of its "Lisbon Strategy". In future, more jobs and more economic growth are to be created in order to build the EU up into the world’s most competitive knowledge-based economic area.
The aims of cohesion policy in the 2007 – 2013 period
Different conditions apply to the funding being provided in different regions to achieve the tasks of EU cohesion policy, known as the "objectives":
- The "convergence" objective refers to the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind. In the Community’s regions with the weakest economies (per-capita gross domestic product below 75% of the EU average), therefore, support is going towards promoting growth and creating jobs. In the 2007 – 2013 programming period, some € 16.1 billion is being provided to assist the convergence regions in Germany. Assistance from the EU can amount to up to 75% of the eligible expenditure.
- Under the "regional competitiveness and employment" objective, all other regions are eligible for assistance. The funding available amounts to around € 9.4 billion in Germany, with € 142 million of this earmarked for ERDF support in Bremen, this money is intended to tackle the consequences of severe economic and social change, to foster adjustment to the process of globalisation, and to facilitate the transition to a knowledge-based society. Under this objective, the structural funds can finance up to 50% of the eligible expenditure of the Operational Programmes.
- The "European territorial co-operation" objective serves to promote cross-border, transnational and interregional co-operation on finding common solutions to problems, such as the development of towns and cities, rural areas and coastal regions, and to expand economic relations, in particular by fostering co-operation between small and medium-sized enterprises. To this end, € 851 million in assistance has been allocated to the eligible regions in Germany.
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The two structural funds
The two EU structural funds are the main instruments for implementing the European Union’s cohesion policy:
The ERDF – European Regional Development Fund – finances programmes in the fields of regional development, economic change and enhanced competitiveness. The funding priorities include research, innovation, environmental protection and support for private and public-sector investment, such as investment in infrastructure intended to help reduce the regional imbalances in the Union.
The ESF – European Social Fund- supplements national training and employment policies by providing money intended to foster paths out of unemployment, new forms of initial and further training, and measures to help people at a disadvantage on the labour market.
The structural funds work on the basis of co-financing, i.e. the realisation of the project must always also be supported by public-sector funding from the member state. An important role in the implementation of the structural funds programmes is played by the principle of partnership, and in particular by the economic and social partners.
The State of Bremen is receiving a total of € 142 million from the EU’s ERDF in the 2007 – 2013 period. Bremen’s 2007 – 2013 ERDF Programme is intended to boost growth, competitiveness and employment in Bremen and Bremerhaven. The thematic and financial emphasis is on the further development and implementation of Bremen’s innovation strategy. The projects are to be centred chiefly in the fields of Maritime Technologies, Mobile Solutions, eLogistics, Ecological Intelligence and the Forward-Looking Healthcare Market. A second emphasis is placed on the promotion of competitive urban structures. These are a precondition for a region to be able to survive in interregional and international competition, and to be attractive for investors and highly-skilled workers.