How to better integrate environment in EU Cohesion policy
A new DG Environment study was released in March, 2019 on integrating environmental concerns into Cohesion policy (ERDF, ESF, EAFRD). The study was carried out by Cowi and Milieu Ltd. and covers the 2000-2006, 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 programming periods tracing the evolution of environmental spending.
The study distinguishes two types of integration of environmental concerns: vertical and horizontal. Vertical integration (or direct environmental investments) describes the extent to which Operational Programmes (OPs) and OP priorities have primarily focused on environment. Horizontal integration, on the other hand, represents the degree to which OPs have integrated environment across different priorities (energy, transport, etc.).
The study provides an overview of sectoral Cohesion policy investments in waste, water, air quality, nature protection, land rehabilitation and climate change, comparing direct and indirect investments. The result of the analysis shows that energy is the sector where environment has been integrated to the largest extent (through renewable energy and energy efficiency) followed by transport (intelligent transport systems), then sustainable tourism and environment-related business development R&D.
Direct environmental investments under ERDF and the Cohesion Fund amounted to EUR 38.2 billion in 2000-2006, EUR 41.6 billion in 2007-2013 and EUR 36.4 billion in the current period. In contrast, indirect environmental investments increased from EUR 3 billion in 2000-2006 to EUR 22 billion in 2007-2013 and EUR 46.3 billion in the current period.