What are the European Structural and Investment Funds?

There are five Funds under the umbrella of the European Structural and Investment Funds:

  • The European Regional Development Fund
  • The European Social Fund
  • The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
  • The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund
  • The Cohesion Fund

Ireland receives EU money from the first four funds listed. As Ireland is a Member State with a more developed economy, it is no longer eligible to receive money from the Cohesion Fund.

The Funds

The European Regional Development Fund was set up to address imbalances in regional development. Ireland has two regional investment programmes in place, working towards achieving this goal. This covers the whole of the Republic of Ireland, which is divided into two regions, the Southern and Eastern Region and the Border, Midland and Western Region.

The European Social Fund improves access to employment and enables more location and job mobility within the Union. The European Social Fund has a particular focus on vocational training and skill development.

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development helps meet the challenges and opportunities faced by rural areas in the twenty-first century.

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund has the objective of helping fishermen transition to sustainable methods. The fund also helps coastal communities to create more diverse opportunities for workers and businesses. The overall goal of this fund is to create jobs and improve the quality of life along European coasts.

The Cohesion Fund is aimed at Member States whose Gross National Income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90 % of the EU average. It aims to reduce economic and social disparities and to promote sustainable development.

What is Cohesion Policy?

The European Union uses the term ‘Cohesion Policy’ to refer to investments made through the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund.

The main aim of Cohesion Policy is to reduce regional economic and social imbalances across EU states and regions. Cohesion policy achieves this aim by targeting expenditure at the regions and cities in the European Union, in order to foster business competitiveness, job creation, economic growth, sustainable development, and to improve citizens’ quality of life.

What is the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived?

The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived provides the basic assistance people need before they can aspire to the social and economic development that the other Funds provide.

Where can I find out more?

If you are looking for more information, the bodies that manage implementation of the programmes are a great place to start.

For the European Regional Development Fund, these bodies are split geographically:

The European Social Fund programme is managed nationally by the Department of Education and Skills.

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is managed by the Seafood Development Programmes Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine.

The Rural Development Programme is overseen by the Rural Development Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived is managed by the Department of Social Protection.

If you want to learn more about the European Structural and Investment Funds, please visit the European Union’s official page