European Regional Development Fund & Cohesion Fund approved
The European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund have been approved. They provide exciting opportunities for Protected Areas.
The EU has recently reached a formal agreement and the new ERDF regulation, which this time also includes the Cohesion Fund. It entered into force on the 1st of July. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), together with the Cohesion Fund, aims to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions.
EUROPARC is very pleased to see that, also thanks to the interest of MEP Cozzolino, the work of our Brussels office and because of the proactive support of Enzo Lavarra (EUROPARC Council), the close cooperation established with the European Parliament has been successful and the role of Protected Areas has been integrated in one of the pillars of the EU policy. Now it will be up to national authorities to allocate funds to Protected Areas.
Of particular interest for our membership is the fact that the strategic and operational priorities for 2021-27 include significant resources relevant for Protected Areas activities.
The ERDF identifies among the strategic priorities for the coming years, the preservation and valorisation of Protected Areas, the development and promotion of sustainable tourism, the development of climate change adaptation strategies and mitigation measures, the restoration of natural areas.
In 2021-2027 EU cohesion policy has set a shorter, modern menu of 5 policy objectives supporting growth for the period 2021-2027.
- a more competitive and smarter Europe
- a greener, low‑carbon transitioning towards a net zero carbon economy
- a more connected Europe by enhancing mobility
- a more social and inclusive Europe
- Europe closer to citizens by fostering the sustainable and integrated development of all types of territories
Some of the specific and operational objectives described by the program are especially relevant for Protected Areas. In particular:
The priority for a greener and low carbon Europe, known as Policy Objective (PO) 2, towards which all regions and Member States will concentrate at least 30% of their allocation. This priority will be achieved – among others – by:
- promoting climate change adaptation and disaster risk prevention and resilience, taking into account eco-system based approaches;
- enhancing protection and preservation of nature, biodiversity and green infrastructure, including in urban areas, and reducing all forms of pollution;
Additionally PO4: The priority for a more social and inclusive Europe, will be achieved among others by:
- enhancing the role of culture and sustainable tourism in economic development, social inclusion and social innovation;
It is also important to consider that those priorities will then be reflected in operational programs being developed by Member States (or regional authorities) and will also be the baseline of other operational instruments that fund cooperation projects, such as the INTERREG programs. Please note also, that Interreg funding programs are currently being developed and in autumn the first call for projects will be published.