EU cohesion policy and EEA funding mechanism

A group of young people in Latvia
The EU’s cohesion policy promotes the sustainable development of its more remote regions. © SECO

For the EU, strengthening economic and social cohesion is a key concern. The EU invests approximately one third of its budget in its cohesion policy. Since 2006, the three EFTA/EEA states Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have also contributed to European cohesion with an amount that is considerably higher than Switzerland’s.

In order to strengthen cohesion within Europe, the EU and EEA states are investing considerable amounts of money into reducing economic and social imbalances in Europe.

EU contribution to the sustainable development of Europe

The EU cohesion policy is an investment policy. It supports job creation, competitiveness, economic growth, improved quality of life and sustainable development. To meet these objectives and to take into account the different developmental needs in all regions of the EU, some EUR 351.8 billion – almost a third of the entire EU budget – has been allocated to the cohesion policy for the period 2014–20. Most of these resources are focused on lesser developed countries and regions in Europe. The states that have joined the EU since 2004 (the EU 13) receive about two thirds of these resources, which fund up to 80% of these countries’ public investments. Switzerland’s enlargement contribution, which averages CHF 130 million per year, corresponds to less than 0.5% of the EU’s annual investments in the EU-13 states.

An independent expert opinion on the 2007–13 funding period concluded that the investments made within the framework of the EU cohesion policy in this period will generate approximately EUR 1 billion in additional GDP by 2023.

Contribution by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein

For the period from 2014 to 2021, the EFTA/EEA states, i.e. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, will support the EU with approximately EUR 2.8 billion. Norway pays 97% of this sum, which in the current period is roughly three times more than Switzerland pays with its enlargement contribution. The recipients of this support are the EU-13, Greece and Portugal.