The European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds are the EU’s main funding programmes for supporting growth and jobs across the EU.

In the UK, ESI Funds are made up of:

  • European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
  • European Social Fund (ESF)
  • European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)
  • European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)

These funds have supported a huge range of projects across the UK, but negotiating the system can be difficult. In the EU’s next funding round for 2014 to 2020, we want the funds to be:

  • easier to access
  • go further
  • be even better value for money for the UK taxpayer


In December 2013 the EU regulations for providing ERDF, ESF and EAFRD were agreed. The UK had 4 months to submit its Partnership Agreement and a further 3 months to submit the Operational Programmes to the Commission. You can view the EU regulations for ESI Funds 2014 to 2020.

Allocations of ERDF, ESF and EAFRD 2014 to 2020

On 17 April 2014 we announced the breakdown of the UK’s allocations of ERDF and ESF over the next 6 years. A letter from the Secretary of State for Business provides further information, including how the funds breakdown across the UK. It includes the equality impact assessment that underpins this decision.

On 19 December we announced the EAFRD allocations across the UK, including by LEP area within England.

On 16 April 2014 the government also announced the areas that will gain from the £170 million allocation for the ‘Youth Employment Initiative’. For further information see the press release.

UK Partnership Agreement

The UK Partnership Agreement includes the priorities and management arrangements of the UK government and devolved administrations for the ESI Funds across for 2014 to 2020. The Partnership Agreement was formally submitted to the European Commission on 17 April 2014. It was adopted by the Commission on 29 October 2014.

Government role

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) leads for UK government on the policy and negotiations for the European Structural Funds (ERDF and ESF) and for the UK Partnership Agreement. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has policy lead for EAFRD and EMFF.

Responsibility for delivering the funds within England currently rests with:

  • Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for ERDF - see also policy summary
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for ESF
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for EAFRD
  • Marine Management Organisation for EMFF

The Scottish and Welsh governments and the Northern Ireland Executive are responsible for provision of the funds in their own nations:

Balance of competences

On 22 July 2014 the ‘Balance of competences review on cohesion policy was published. The review was launched on 12 July 2012 by the Foreign Secretary to examine the balance of competences between the UK and the European Union. It will provide an analysis of what the UK’s membership of the EU means for the UK national interest.