Cohesion Policy beyond 2020

Cohesion Policy beyond 2020

The European Commission’s legislative proposal for the 2021-2027 Regional Development and Cohesion Policy aims to modernise Cohesion Policy. The following proposals for a regulation were published in May and June 2018:

Moreover, in January 2020, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation to create the Just Transition Fund. The Fund will be aimed at supporting EU regions most affected by the transition to a low carbon economy and will help reduce regional disparities. The budget for the Just Transition Fund will be complemented by resources from Cohesion Policy. The latter is the EU’s main investment policy and one of its most concrete expressions of solidarity which seeks to strengthen cohesion across the EU and address structural changes EU regions are going through. The Just Transition Fund and Cohesion Policy will share the goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The establishment of the Just Transition Fund is particularly important for the regions relying on fossil fuels and carbon-intensive industries. The focus of the Just Transition Fund will be on the economic diversification and modernization of the territories facing serious socio-economic challenges arising from the transition to climate neutrality, as well as on mitigating the negative repercussion on employment.

Resources from Cohesion Policy will continue to be targeted at EU regions most lagging behind in development. At the same time, Cohesion Policy will continue to be a strong link between the EU and EU regions and cities.

One of the main features of the Commission’s proposal for a modernised Cohesion Policy is the focus on key investment priorities, where the EU is best placed to deliver. The new Cohesion Policy will focus its resources on five policy objectives which will drive EU investments in 2021-2027:

  • smarter Europe, through innovation, digitisation, economic transformation and support to small and medium-sized businesses;
  • greener, carbon free Europe, implementing the Paris Agreement and investing in energy transition, renewables and the fight against climate change;
  • a more connected Europe, with strategic transport and digital networks;
  • a more social Europe, delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights and supporting quality employment, education, skills, social inclusion and equal access to healthcare;
  • Europe closer to citizens, by supporting locally-led development strategies and sustainable urban development across the EU.


The European Semester provides a framework for the coordination of economic policies across the EU helping member states align their budgetary and economic policies with the objectives and rules agreed at the EU level. It allows member states to discuss their plans for budget, macroeconomic and structural reforms and monitor progress at specific times throughout the year. Thus, member states design their multiannual investment strategies which help them streamline the use of EU funds to support the implementation of key reforms agreed with the Commission in line with a carefully planned investment roadmap and to maximise the added value of EU funding. In the next funding period, the Commission proposes to strengthen the link between EU funding and the European Semester, meaning that member states will have to duly take on board the country-specific recommendations formulated and endorsed in the context of the European Semester.


The Commission proposes less complex and more aligned implementation rules for the next period. Thus, one set of rules will cover seven EU funds implemented in partnership with Member States ('’shared management'’ – proposed also for the new Just Transition Fund), which will make life easier for programme managers. A single set of rules also ensures there will be less red tape and lighter control procedures for businesses and entrepreneurs benefiting from EU support. The Commission proposes 80 simplification measures, including simpler audit requirements and fewer burdens for programmes with good track record and proper functioning of the management and control systems.

The new framework also combines the stability necessary for long-term investment planning with the right level of flexibility in order to cope with unforeseen events. A mid-term review will determine if changes in the programmes are needed for the last two years of the funding period based on emerging priorities, programme performance and most recent country-specific recommendations. Within certain limits, transfers of resources will be possible within EU funds programmes without the need for a formal Commission approval. As a general rule, Member States may decide to make a voluntary contribution of up to 5% of each Fund to new "InvestEU" instrument. Slovenia’s contribution to the fund will be made in order to pursue Cohesion objectives through projects implemented in Slovenia.

More about simplification measures


Revised rules for the period 2021-2027 will facilitate synergies and seek complementarities between the funds covered by a single rulebook and with other EU instruments with which they will share objectives in the areas of innovation, climate change, growth and job creation.

Strategic planning process will be undertaken to identify common objectives and common areas of intervention of different programmes and to facilitate the integration of measures supported by Cohesion funding and other instruments in accordance with a single set of rules. Outside of the single rulebook, synergies will be made easier with other EU instruments, like Horizon Europe (Horizon 2020), LIFE, Erasmus+ and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

With a simpler framework for 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy in the form of a single set of rules covering seven funds, life will be made easier for programme managers and beneficiaries. This will also facilitate synergies, for example between the ERDF and the European Social Fund+ in the context of integrated city development plans, for the regeneration of deprived urban areas. Also, the Asylum and Migration Fund, together with Cohesion Policy funds, will be able to finance local integration strategies for migrants and asylum seekers. These rules will make it easier to use a combination of funding sources and instruments within a single project.   

Merging the current European Social Fund (ESF), the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), the Employment and Social Innovation Programme (EaSI) and the EU Health Programme, the new ESF+ will be the main EU financial instrument to invest in people and a key vector to strengthen social cohesion, improve social fairness and increase competitiveness across Europe. ESF+ programmes will focus on recommendations and country analysis provided under the European Semester of policy coordination, and they will be geared towards making the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality on the ground.

More about the European Pillar of Social Rights which seeks to deliver new and more effective rights for citizens and builds on 20 key principles.

The Commission proposes a Cohesion Policy for all regions and a more tailored approach to regional development, strongly supporting balanced regional development. 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy will support the development of local development strategies and integrated territorial development programmes by urban, local or other territorial authorities tailoring its interventions to regional and local needs and targeting resources where they are most needed.

Interregional and cross-border cooperation will be facilitated by the new possibility for a region to use parts of its own allocation to fund projects anywhere in Europe jointly with other regions. The new generation of interregional and cross-border cooperation (Interreg) programmes will help Member States overcome cross-border obstacles and develop joint services. The Commission proposes a new instrument for border regions and Member States eager to harmonise their legal frameworks, the European Cross-Border Mechanism.

Building on a successful pilot action from 2014-2020, the Commission proposes to create the Interregional Innovative Investments totalling around EUR 900 million to develop European value chains across Europe. Regions with matching smart specialisation assets (incorporation of IPA/ENI programmes foreseen) will be given more support to build pan-European clusters in priority sectors such as big data, circular economy, advanced manufacturing or cybersecurity.


The released proposal for the Regional Development and Cohesion Policy beyond 2020 foresees an overall 10% cut to Cohesion Policy funding. Slovenia is to receive nearly EUR 3.1 billion in the period beyond 2020, which is a nine per cent drop compared to the current programming period. As the negotiation is still underway, the national Cohesion Policy envelope figure might change.

The new Cohesion Policy framework continues investing in all regions and keeps the three different categories of regions, i.e.:

  • less developed regions (GDP per capita at 75% of the EU average),
  • transition regions (GDP per capita varies between 75% and 100% of the EU average),
  • more developed regions (GDP per capita exceeds 100% of the EU average).

Slovenia is divided in two cohesion regions, i.e. Zahodna Slovenija (western Slovenia) and Vzhodna Slovenija (eastern Slovenia). According to the 2016 statistical data, the cohesion region Zahodna Slovenija achieved 99% of the EU average, while Vzhodna Slovenija lagged behind with modest 68% of the average EU level of development, setting the overall country figure at 83% of the EU average.

Slovenia calls on the European Commission to make a minimal cut to Cohesion funding to be able to deliver on its commitment to invest in structural transformation of all regions across the country, even though Zahodna Slovenija has been keeping pace with the average level of economic development in the EU, and will no longer be considered a transition region.

The Commission believes EU funding should only complement national counterpart, so that lower co-financing rates will be applied in the upcoming period. This decision was driven by the need to enhance the sense of responsibility for and ownership of the project by the beneficiaries. The maximum co-financing rate in less developed regions now stands at 70%, and accounts for a maximum of 55% for transition regions (developed regions are eligible up to a maximum of 40-per cent co-financing).




Finland's Presidency of the Council of EU started trilogues with the European Parliament in September 2019. The Parliament made a number of amendments to the Commission’s original legislative proposal on Cohesion Policy. Intense negotiation is still underway, and MFF discussions are carried out simultaneously. The agreement on the next MFF is expected to be reached in 2020, which will be followed by the adoption of the Cohesion Policy legislative package.   

Stay up to date with the latest news on post-2020 Cohesion Policy and progress made in the negotiation on the MFF by visiting Commission websites for regional development and social affairs and the website of the European Parliament