EU’s regional and structural policy
The European Union's regional and structural policy (cohesion policy) aims to increase the Member States' economic and social cohesion as well as to reduce interregional development disparities.
The enlargement of the EU has led to wider social and economic disparities between regions within the Union, which poses new challenges to the cohesion policy. There is a need for effective tools for narrowing economic, social and regional inequalities within the Union. At the same time, the programmes supported by structural funds should more effectively support the Union in the strengthening of its competitiveness.
The EU channels its support to Member States through the programmes prepared in the Member States and approved by the Commission. The programmes are approved for a specific period.
Structural fund activities began in Finland when Finland joined the European Union in 1995.
So far, there have been four programming periods: 1995–1999, 2000–2006, 2007–2013 and 2014–2020. The project activities of the period 2007-2013 ended in 2015.