FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the institutional aim of the Territorial Cohesion Agency?

The Territorial Cohesion Agency supports the implementation of Cohesion Policy. It cooperates with central and local public administrations in the use of EU and national programming funds and support territories along their paths for economic and social development, promoting full achievement of expenditure objectives and administrative efficiency.

What is Cohesion Policy?

Cohesion is one of the fundamental objectives of the European Union and aims to reduce the differences between territories so that all citizens can enjoy the same starting conditions. The Italian Republic refers to cohesion in Art. 119 of its Constitution, linking it to the effective exercise of personal rights.

How is Cohesion Policy implemented?

Through the Programmes co-financed by the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds, the Plans and Programmes supported by the Fund for Development and Cohesion (Italy’s Fondo Sviluppo e Coesione – FSC), Complementary Operational Programmes (a.k.a. POC) and Action and Cohesion Plans.

What is the EU Programming 2014-2020?

The EU programming is the instrument used to pursue the objectives of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds. It is broken down into seven-year cycles and National and/or Regional Operational Programmes. The EU programming is aimed at identifying the strategic priorities of Cohesion Policy, defining resources, clarifying management procedures, and establishing control systems.

What are the objectives of the 2014-2020 programming?

To achieve the Union’s strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, the EU programming pursues the following 11 Thematic Objectives:


1) Strengthening research, technological development and innovation

2) Enhancing access to, and use and quality of information and communication technologies

3) Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs

4) Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy

5) Promoting climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management

6) Preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency

7) Promoting sustainable transport and improving network infrastructures

8) Promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility

9) Promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination

10) Investing in education, training and lifelong learning

11) Improving the efficiency of public administration.

What are the ESI funds and what are their aims?

The European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds are:


  1. ERDF – The European Regional Development Fund aims to foster innovation and research, promote the digital agenda, support the competitiveness of SMEs and the low carbon economy;


  1. ESF – The European Social Fund aims to fight unemployment, help the weakest, prevent early school leaving, strengthen the education and training system, and enhance public administrations’ skills;


  1. Cohesion Fund, aimed at the least developed EU Member States;


  1. EAFRD – The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development finances programmes aimed at improving the competitiveness of the agricultural sector, ensuring sustainable management of natural resources and achieving balanced territorial development of rural economies and communities;


  1. EMFF – The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, promotes sustainable fishing and environmentally friendly aquaculture. and finances projects that create new jobs and improve the quality of life of coastal communities.


Italy is the second largest recipient of funds in terms of volume of resources, receiving €44,656,103,770.


What are ESI Funds worth in Italy in the 2014-2020 programming period?

ERDF: over €34 billion;

ESF: about €20 billion;

EAFRD: about €10.4 billion;

EMFF: over €500 million.

How are ESI Funds spent?

Through Operational Programmes (OPs) that detail the objectives, actions and ways of using the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds. OPs can be National (NOPs) or Regional (ROPs). NOPs are managed by central governments and address issues of national collective interest, such as business competitiveness or legality. ROPs are managed by Regions and cover individual territories. Italy has so far activated 12 NOPs and 39 ROPs.

How do Operational Programmes (OPs) work?

Managing Authorities (MAs) oversee the implementation of Operational Programmes (OPs). They are central administrations, such as Ministries in the case of NOPs, and Regions in the case of ROPs. Managing Authorities make the necessary resources available through actions such as calls for tenders and public notices to finance operations consistent with the objectives pursued by OPs. The recipient of the funding is referred to as “the beneficiary” and may be a public or private body or a natural person.

Are enterprises, associations, universities and other entities active in the territories involved in OPs?

Yes, and not only as potential beneficiaries. In addition to public administrations, OP project-designing and management phases also involve representatives from the civil society, consistently with the partnership principle. The Partnership Agreement sets out the strategies and priorities in the use of EU Funds. It is designed by each EU Member State and is strongly result-oriented. Public authorities, trade unions, trade associations and NGOs thus make an essential contribution at every programming stage, from project-designing and implementation of measures to evaluation of results. The European Commission (EC) has devised a Code of Conduct on Partnership, and Member States are required to comply with it.

What is the aim of Italy’s Development and Cohesion Fund and what is its budget?

Italy’s Development and Cohesion Fund is worth approx. €60 billion, and is aimed at supporting public investments in tangible and intangible infrastructure and incentives to the economy through the financing of projects under OPs aimed at Sports and Suburbs, Healthcare, Environment, Infrastructure, Culture and Tourism, Agriculture, Enterprises and Competitiveness; Ultra-Broad Band and National Research Programme; the SME Guarantee Fund. The Fund also supports 23 Development Pacts stipulated between the Government, Regions and Metropolitan Cities. The Pacts concern strategic interventions identified by local authorities in coordination with the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. The Territorial Cohesion Agency oversees the coordination, supervision and communication activities on the Pacts.

What are the “Complementary Operational Programmes – Action and Cohesion Plans 2014-2020”? What are their aims?

There are 14 Complementary Operational Programmes (POCs), 11 national and 3 regional. POCs are financed with national resources from the Revolving Fund and aim to complete the interventions of the 2007-2013 EU programming and set up new interventions for the 2014-2020 cycle.

“THE WORDS OF COHESION”, the communication campaign to simplify the language of Cohesion Policy