The European Fund for Regional Development (EFRD), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund contribute to three objectives: Convergence, Regional Competitiveness and Employment, and European Territorial Cooperation in the following ways.
The rationale of the Convergence objective is to promote growth-enhancing conditions and factors leading to real convergence for the least-developed Member States and regions. In EU-27, this objective concerns (within 17 Member States) 84 regions with a total population of 154 million, and per capita GDP at less than 75% of the Community average, and, on a "phasing-out" basis, another 16 regions with a total of 16.4 million inhabitants and a GDP only slightly above the threshold, due to the statistical effect of the larger EU.
The amount available under the Convergence objective is €282.8 billion, representing 81.5% of the total. It is split as follows: €199.3 billion for the Convergence regions, while €14 billion are reserved for the "phasing-out" regions, and €69.5 billion for the Cohesion Fund, the latter applying to 15 Member States.
Outside the Convergence regions, the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective aims at strengthening competitiveness and attractiveness, as well as employment, through a two-fold approach. First, development programmes will help regions to anticipate and promote economic change through innovation and the promotion of the knowledge society, entrepreneurship, the protection of the environment, and the improvement of their accessibility. Second, more and better jobs will be supported by adapting the workforce and by investing in human resources.
In EU-27, a total of 168 regions will be eligible, representing 314 million inhabitants. Within these, 13 regions which are home to a total of 19 million inhabitants represent so-called "phasing-in" areas and are subject to special financial allocations due to their former status as "Objective 1" regions. The amount of €55 billion, of which €11.4 billion is for the "phasing-in" regions, represents just below 16% of the total allocation. Regions in 19 Member States are concerned with this objective.
The former programmes Urban II and Equal are integrated into the Convergence and Regional Competitiveness and Employment objectives.
The European Territorial Co-operation objective will strengthen cross-border co-operation through joint local and regional initiatives, trans-national co-operation aiming at integrated territorial development, and interregional co-operation and exchange of experience. The population living in cross-border areas amounts to 181.7 million (37.5% of the total EU population), whereas all EU regions and citizens are covered by one of the existing 13 transnational co-operation areas. €8.7 billion (2.5% of the total) available for this objective is split as follows: €6.44 billion for cross-border, €1.83 billion for transnational and EUR 445 million for inter-regional co-operation. This objective is based on the experience drawn from the former Community initiative: INTERREG.