Economic and social cohesion - as defined in the Single European Act of 1986 (EU Treaty) - "aims in particular to reduce the gap between the various regions and to reduce the backwardness of the most disadvantaged regions".
The most recent EU Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty, adds another aspect to cohesion, referring to "economic, social and territorial cohesion", with a special emphasis on "rural areas, industrial transition zones and areas affected by serious and permanent natural or demographic problems, such as the extremely sparsely populated areas of the north and the island, cross-border and mountainous areas ". With this in mind, cohesion policy must, in addition to economic and social, promote a more balanced and sustainable "spatial development" which is a broader concept than regional policy.
Cohesion Policy implements hundreds of thousands of projects across Europe funded by:
During the 2014-2020 programming period, coordination and coherence between Cohesion Policy and other EU policies contributing to regional development, such as Rural Development and Fisheries and Maritime Policy, have been strengthened by the establishment of common ERDF provisions. the ESF, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). These five funds are known as the European Structural and Investment Funds (GRNET).
The Regulations setting out the available Cohesion Policy amounts for 2014-2020 entered into force on 21 December 2013, as part of the "financial perspective" of the seven-year European budget. For Political Cohesion 2014-2020, € 351.8 billion was allocated to the 28 EU Member States, which is about one third of the EU budget. Following negotiations, the allocation of funds was as follows:
Member States use these funds to finance Programs, sectoral (thematically focused, eg transport and environmental infrastructure, entrepreneurship, etc.) that cover the entire territory of the country and / or regional ones that serve multiple thematic needs specific regions.
For the programming period 2014-2020, the Regulation of Common Provisions (Regulation (EU) No. 1303/2013) sets out 11 Thematic Objectives which will be supported by GRNET:
The national and regional authorities specify in their Operational Programs how they intend to allocate the available funds to the Thematic Objectives. National strategies are defined in the so-called Partnership Pacts (FTAs). For Greece, this is the Corporate Pact for the Development Framework - NSRF 2014-2020.
The European Commission does not intervene in the selection of projects on the spot, with the exception of a limited number of large-scale projects (large projects). Based on a decentralized management system, national and / or regional authorities have been designated, the so-called Managing Authorities (Special Management Services), which manage each of the programs that implement cohesion policy using GRNET for the period 2014-2020 . These Authorities, among other things, organize meetings of the Monitoring Committees (PSCs) of the NSRF 2014-2020 and its Programs and select the projects approved by the PSCs (based on specific selection criteria) which will be funded after open calls for proposals. .
Through the 11 Thematic Objectives, cohesion policy seeks to contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, the EU's development strategy for achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. GRNET is the main investment tool for measures supporting employment, innovation, education, integration and the transition to an economy with reduced carbon emissions.