European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI)

M R / Shutterstock.comStructural Funds are made up of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). Cohesion Funds are used to fund projects in the environment, transport, infrastructure and renewable energy sectors. More than a third of the European Union budget is used for Cohesion Policy

At EU level, Structural Funds are centrally managed by the European Commission (DG Regio). The European Commission drafts regulations, called Community Strategic Guidelines, outlining the aims and objectives for the funding period. Member states propose a National Strategic Reference Framework which outlines the priorities, strategic framework and available budget for the Operational Programmes . EU cohesion policy complements national funding so member states also commit some of the national budget to the Operational Programmes.

Managing authorities, appointed by member states, are responsible for managing the Operational Programmes, informing potential beneficiaries, selecting projects and generally monitoring  implementation of the Structural Funds at regional or national level.

Applications for funding are welcomed from private, public and third sectors who propose projects that deliver on Cohesion policy objectives.

Once an applicant identifies a project opportunity, they need to check the eligibility of the project under the existing Operational Programme and contact the Managing Authority or an energy agency to verify that there is still money left in the Operational Programme to finance the project. Usually funding is allocated through a call for proposals, although some MAs have open calls with no specific deadline. The Manual for financing RES and EE projects with Structural and Cohesion Funds provides beneficiaries with clear and simple steps to develop and obtain funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

More information:

·         Check out this great presentation on investing in sustainable energy in 2014-2020

·         Cohesion policy investing in energy efficiency in buildings

·         Regional policy for smart growth of SMEs

For more on Cohesion Policy 2014 - 2020, visit the website of the DG for Regional Policy: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/what/future/index_en.cfm