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    What is cohesion?

    The European Union's Cohesion Policy helps to ensure there are no gaps between countries and between different areas and regions in the same country. It supports key EU goals, such as the green and digital transition.

    The EIB was born to support and finance cohesion throughout Europe. Since 1958, we have targeted support for projects in less-developed regions. Our cohesion financing supports projects in EU regions with gross domestic product (GDP) per capita below the EU average. Less developed and transition regions need specific types of support to reach their potential and to make sure that everyone in the European Union has a good quality of life.

    EU regions who need it the most

    The EU Cohesion Policy defines the following categories of regions:

      Less developed regions, which have a GDP per inhabitant that is less than 75% of the EU average

      Transition regions, which have a GDP per inhabitant that is between 75% and 100% of the EU average

      More developed regions which have a GDP per inhabitant that is above 100% of the EU average

    EuroGeographics Association

    More support for cohesion regions

    More than €36 billion, or 45% of our financing in the European Union, went to supporting cohesion regions in 2023, with close to 20% going to less developed regions. Economic modelling shows that our lending has a significant macroeconomic influence in these areas, increasing GDP by up to 2%. More support for high-impact projects is critical to reducing regional economic disparities and promoting a vibrant economy across the EU.

    EIB Group activities in EU cohesion regions 2022

    This report offers an overview of the EIB Group's activities in Europe's cohesion regions. It focuses on how the EIB Group contributes to innovation that enables an inclusive, green and digital transition. The report starts with a review of recent economic trends in cohesion regions and their investments in innovation, followed by a presentation of the EIB Group’s activities in these regions in 2022.

    Our cohesion projects on the ground

    Watch how we contribute to a cohesive and inclusive Europe

    Find out about our EIB-financed cohesion projects in Europe

    From support for small businesses to financing for education and skills training, the EIB is helping to build a more inclusive Europe. Explore our cohesion projects using this interactive map.

    Our cohesion stories in the spotlight

    Working with the European Union

    We support the EU’s Territorial Agenda 2030

    The EIB supports the Territorial Agenda 2030, a strategic policy document that outlines the goals for Europe, its regions, and its communities. This document defines two overarching objectives: a Just Europe and a Green Europe, with six priorities for developing the continent and all its places.

    Balanced Europe

    Better balanced territorial development utilising Europe's diversity.

    Functional regions

    Local and regional development, less inequality between places.

    Integration beyond borders

    Living and working across national borders.

    Today, the EIB helps with important investments and gives technical advice. Many of these
    activities help meet the goals and priorities of the Territorial Agenda 2030.

    Healthy Environment

    Better ecological livelihoods and climate neutral towns, cities and regions.

    Circular Economy

    Strong and sustainable local economies in a globalised world.

    Sustainable Connections

    Sustainable digital and physical connectivity of places.

    Today, the EIB helps with important investments and gives technical advice. Many of these
    activities help meet the goals and priorities of the Territorial Agenda 2030.

    A Just Transition

    The EU aims to become the first carbon-neutral economic union by 2050. While the advantages of decarbonisation are global, the costs are not. Regions dependent on mining and emission-intensive manufacturing will be hit hardest.

    A Just Transition makes sure that the transition to a low-carbon economy is done in a way that doesn't have a negative impact on the people and places that are most affected.


    How we support a Just Transition

    Many of the worst affected EU regions already have low incomes or have a long history of industrial decline. It takes many changes to move away from coal mining and CO2-intensive energy and industrial production, for example:

    • Find new sources of heat and electricity.
    • Clean up mining sites.
    • Attract new businesses and invest in infrastructure to make up for the loss of jobs, value added, and tax revenue.

    The Just Transition Mechanism addresses the social and economic effects of the transition. It focusses on the regions, industries and workers who will face the greatest challenges. The mechanism supports projects located in or benefiting one of the Just Transition regions jointly identified by Member States and the European Commission in the Territorial Just Transition Plans.
    The Just Transition Mechanism has three pillars:

    The Just Transition Mechanism will primarily assist areas in EIB Cohesion priority regions. This means that there will be strong synergies between Cohesion and Just Transition.

    The EIB Group:

    The EIB will co-operate with other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to support Just Transition outside the EU, following the MDB Just Transition High-level principles.

    Cohesive and creative

    A long history of investment for cohesion in Europe’s poorer regions is a foundation for the EIB’s role in the European Commission’s Just Transition Mechanism.

    Our key publications

    Projects eligible for financing

    We finance regional and cohesion policy projects under the following policy objectives:

    What we offer

    Our lending, our financial instruments, and also our technical assistance and advisory services can support the regions and people with furthest to go

    Our cohesion loans must address at least one of the EIB's four priorities: innovation, infrastructure, small businesses, and environmental sustainability. In cohesion regions, we fund both public and private sectors.

    For municipalities and regional governments

    Based on the size of the project, the EIB offers a wide range of financing instruments for municipalities and regional governments, ranging from investment loans for big projects to framework loans for smaller multi-sector initiatives.

    Our structural programme loans can also help deliver the EU budget's shared management funds (formerly known as the European Structural and Investment Funds, or ESIF).

    For small businesses, mid-caps and large corporates

    We finance the private sector in cohesion regions: thanks to our intermediated loans, about one-third of our cohesion lending supports small businesses and mid-caps. We also offer loans for larger corporations in a variety of industries.

    Engineers and economists evaluate every project that the EIB finances, and the EIB makes this expertise available to promoters, regional and national governments, and financial intermediaries in cohesion regions to improve the technical and financial quality of their projects.


    This platform delivers advisory services on financial instruments under the shared management funds.

    Innovation Fund - Project Development Assistance (PDA)

    The European Investment Bank (EIB) gives specific help to projects that support a clean transition through new technologies. The goal is to make the projects more ready for future Innovation Fund calls.

    Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions (JASPERS)

    JASPERS works actively on cohesion. In the recent years, it supports Just Transition fund projects. 

    JASPERS also works with local governments, project developers, and the managing authorities of EU funds in EU countries to help them prepare strategies and sustainable projects, as well as to build their capabilities in areas such as the circular economy, energy efficiency, carbon neutrality, smart cities, applied research and innovation, healthcare systems, connectivity and sustainable mobility, affordable water and sanitation services.

    Project Advisory Support Service Agreement (PASSA)

    The PASSA program combines EIB internal expertise and external consulting to accelerate the implementation of EU-funded projects, in collaboration with promoters and governing authorities.

    With the help of the European Investment Bank, Member States use the Bank’s professional fund management skills to implement financial instruments. They can use these innovative financial instruments with other sources of financing.

    EU countries can give part of their shared management funds to the InvestEU Fund by setting up a "Member State compartment." These countries can benefit from the EU guarantee's high credit rating, which allows more risky projects to be financed.