Introduction to European Regional Development Funding (ERDF)


ERDF funding is one part of the European Union Structural & Investment Funds. The Structural Funds are financial tools set up to implement the regional cohesion policy of the European Union. They aim to:

  • Reduce regional disparities in terms of income, wealth and opportunities across EU member states.
  • Europe’s poorer regions receive most of the support, but all European regions are eligible for funding under the policy’s various funds and programmes.

The current regional policy and fund framework is set for a period of seven years. The 2007-13 the most recent, and with the new 2014-20 programme to start soon.

What can you use ERDF funding for?

ERDF funding can be used to fund projects/services that:

  • Support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to be competitive and that will help them to create sustainable jobs;
  • Provide infrastructures linked notably to research and innovation, telecommunications, environment, energy and transport;
  • Provide financial instruments (capital risk funds, local development funds, etc.) to support regional and local development and to foster cooperation between towns and regions; and
  • Provide technical assistance measures.

In the new 2014-20 programme, following reforms to the EU Cohesion Policy, ERDF funding will be focused on several key priority areas. This is known as ‘thematic concentration’:

  • Innovation and research;
  • The digital agenda e.g. ICT;
  • Support for SMEs;
  • The low-carbon economy.

Under the reformed EU Cohesion policy, the recommendations are at least 80 percent of funds will be concentrated on these four priority areas. The ERDF resources allocated to these priorities will depend on the category of region.

  • In more developed regions, which includes the majority of the UK, at least 80 percent of funds must focus on at least two of these priorities;
  • In transition regions, which includes some parts of the UK such as Cornwall and parts of Lincolnshire, this focus is for 60 percent of the funds;
  • In less developed regions, which includes countries like Portugal, Greece and Eastern European countries in the EU, this focus is for 50 percent of the funds.

Furthermore, some ERDF resources must be channeled specifically towards low-carbon economy projects:

  • More developed regions – 20 percent;
  • Transition regions – 15 percent; and
  • Less developed regions: 12 percent.

To view a map of Europe showing the region categories visit

Further information

To find out more about how ERDF funding will be delivered and managed in the 2014-20 EU Structural and Investment Funds programme visit

To find out more about LEPs visit

To find out more about ERDF visit

To find out more about the One East Midlands ERDF Reach & Impact Project visit

To sign up for the Reach & Impact e-bulletin email