Structural Funds
The financial ‘weight’ of this policy reflects the socio-economic dimensions of EU disparities and the political significance of cohesion for projects under a united Europe. Furthermore, with each enlargement, the EU has accepted poorer and less developed countries which must be integrated into the common market and made equal partners in economic and political projects. Additional development funds at the EU level are a means to ensure that each region, and citizen, are able to use all advantages offered by the common market for goods, capital, workers and services: larger markets, greater mobility in work and education, a greater range of services etc.
As the starting point was aimed at achieving balanced development within the EU, the goal of the cohesion policy has slowly moved towards strengthening the global competitiveness of the European economy. This trend was expressed in the last policy reform: as of 2007, a greater emphasis has been placed on research and development, innovation, harmonization of training with labour market needs, information technology infrastructure, and cooperation with the private sector in co-financing and preparation of projects, environmental sustainability, prevention of natural and technological risks etc. The reform was intended to ensure that the cohesion policy would better serve the Lisbon Strategy and make it a lever for sustainable economic growth in the EU – therefore, much more than a common regional development policy.
The EU contribution to sustainable economic growth in Member States is created through allocations of EU and national funds (co-financing) towards priority investments (with a clear economic contribution) and implementation of a quality approach to development in the national practice of the Member States, based on strategic planning.
Instruments of the cohesion policy is a generic term for the:
•    Cohesion Fund
•    European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
•    European Social Fund (ESF)