Monday, 29 December 2008

EU Law: European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The European Union has nothing resembling a sizable federal budget enabling it to counter an economic recession effectively, but in good times and bad the EU’s structural funds strive to promote economic and social development in regions lagging behind.

In the face of the economic recession, the EU tries to accelerate cohesion spending.

Today we look at the legal framework of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


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Article 160 TEC

Article 160 TEC (ex Article 130c) sets out the existence of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and its principal aim to help to redress the main regional imbalances in the European Community (European Union).

The ERDF participates in

1) the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind and

2) the conversion of declining industrial regions.




Here is the current Article 160 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC), as published in the latest consolidated version of the treaties, OJEU 29.12.2006 C 321 E/119:

(TITLE XVII
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COHESION)


Article 160 TEC

The European Regional Development Fund is intended to help to redress the main regional imbalances in the Community through participation in the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind and in the conversion of declining industrial regions.



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Original Lisbon Treaty (ToL)

Article 2, point 132 of the Lisbon Treaty amended Article 159 TEC and point 133 Article 161 (OJEU 17.12.2007 C 306/85).

No specific amendment concerned Article 160 TEC.


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Renumbering ToL

The Table of equivalences of the original Treaty of Lisbon tells us that Title XVII first became Title XVII with the addition of territorial in the TFEU (ToL), and renumbered Title XVIII Economic, social and territorial cohesion in the consolidated version.

Article 160 TEC initially became Article 160 TFEU (ToL) before the renumbering of the treaty made it into Article 176 TFEU in the consolidated version (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/217).


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Lisbon Treaty consolidated

Article 176 TFEU

The Article has been renumbered. The Community has been replaced by the Union in line with the most common horizontal amendment.

Article 176 TFEU appears like this in the consolidated version of the Treaty of Lisbon (OJ 9.5.2008 C 115/127):

(TITLE XVIII
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND TERRITORIAL COHESION)

Article 176 TFEU
(ex Article 160 TEC)

The European Regional Development Fund is intended to help to redress the main regional imbalances in the Union through participation in the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind and in the conversion of declining industrial regions.


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European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

You can access information about the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) here:


http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/funds/feder/index_en.htm

The three regional policy objectives, where the ERDF intervenes are:

· Convergence
· Regional competitiveness and employment
· European territorial cooperation

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Secondary legislation 2007–2013

General Regulation 1083/2006

General rules concerning the structural funds are set out in Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 (OJEU 31.7.2006 L 210/25).

The 73 Recitals of Regulation 1083/2006 offer an overview of the aims of the structural funds from 2007 to 2013 and they highlight the changes compared to the previous programming period (2000–2006).

The detailed provisions are essential for a deeper understanding of how the structural funds work.

The Regulations together with a few corrigenda are available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/official/regulation/newregl0713_en.htm


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ERDF Regulation 1080/2006

The ERDF Regulation, officially Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the European Regional Development Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1783/1999 (OJEU 31.7.2006 L 210/1), can be found here:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/official/regulation/pdf/2007/feder/ce_1080(2006)_en.pdf

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Implementing Regulation 1828/2006

The Commission has issued and implementing Regulation 1828/2006 with detailed provisions relating to the General Regulation 1083/2006 and the ERDF Regulation 1080/2006.
Commission Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006 of 8 December 2006 setting out rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and of Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Regional Development Fund (OJEU 27.12.2006 L 371/1) is available here:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/official/regulation/pdf/2007/fsfc/ce_1828(2006)_en.pdf


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Cohesion policy guide

For people working with the administration of structural funds or with projects co-financed by one of the funds, the Commission’s guide with commentaries and official texts is a very useful resource.

The 164 page publication Cohesion policy 2007–13 Commentaries and official texts is available here:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/official/regulation/pdf/2007/publications/guide2007_en.pdf

(Two caveats, nearly two years after the start of the 2007 to 2013 programme period: Look above for the remark on corrigenda concerning Regulations and notice that the Cohesion policy guide does not contain the Commission’s Implementing Regulation.)

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Economic crisis and structural funds

For a brief topical look at the structural funds including the ERDF as a part of the European Economic Recovery Plan, you could read the Commission press release Investing in the real economy: Cohesion Policy at centre of Recovery Plan (Brussels, 16 December 2008, IP/08/1983), available here:

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1983&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

The Commission proposes measures to accelerate spending to counter the downturn.



Ralf Grahn