European funds are intended as financial instruments that support the implementation of certain policies of the European Union in member countries. One of the most significant policies is the cohesion policy, for which the European Union allocated EUR 376 billion from the budget in the 2014-2020 financial period. In the financial period 2007-2013, EUR 347 billion were set aside for the same purpose.
The cohesion policy of the European Union is financed from 3 main funds:
- COHESION FUND – intended for member states with gross national income per inhabitant is less than 90% of the average income in the European Union for financing projects in the field of transport and environment.
- EUROPEAN REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUND (ERDF) – aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union and reduce development differences between its regions.
- EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND (ESF) – promotes employment and employment opportunities in the European Union.
The European Fund for Regional Development and the European Social Fund are also known as Structural Funds.
In addition to the above, in the 2014-2020 financial perspective, the following are also available:
- EUROPEAN AGRICULTURAL FUND FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT (EAFRD)
- EUROPEAN MARITIME AND FISHERIES FUND (EMFF)
These five funds are also called the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds).
In May 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a new Multi-year Financial Framework for the budget period 2021-2027. In order to start the process of creating program documents for the new financial period 2021 - 2027, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted at its session on 5th of November 2020 the Decision on Operational Programs related to Cohesion Policy for the financial period of the European Union 2021-2027 in the Republic of Croatia and bodies in charge of their preparation.