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Preparing the ground for adaptation

Cohesion Policy 2014-2020

On 6 October 2011 the European Commission adopted a draft legislative package that will frame EU cohesion policy for the period 2014-2020. The new Regulations should enter into force in 2014.

The legislative architecture for cohesion policy comprises:

  • an overarching regulation setting out common rules for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), and further general rules for the ERDF, ESF and Cohesion Fund;
  • three specific regulations for the ERDF, the ESF and the Cohesion Fund; and
  • two regulations on the European territorial cooperation goal and the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC).

In contrast to the 2007-2013 programming period, the rules proposed for 2014-2020 financial instruments are non-prescriptive in regards to sectors, beneficiaries, types of projects and activities that are to be supported. Member States and managing authorities may use financial instruments in relation to all thematic objectives covered by Operational Programmes (Ops), and for all Funds, where it is efficient and effective to do so.

The new framework also contains clear rules to enable better combination of financial instruments with other forms of support, in particular with grants, as this further stimulates the design of well-tailored assistance schemes that meet the specific needs of Member States or regions.

Following the Cohesion Policy proposals of 6th October, and to help Member States prepare for the next programming period, the Commission presented on 14 March 2012 the "Common Strategic Framework" (CSF). It is intended to help in setting strategic direction for the next financial planning period from 2014 to 2020 in Member States and their regions. It will enable a far better combining of various funds to maximise the impact of EU investments. National and regional authorities will use this framework as the basis for drafting their 'Partnership Contracts' with the Commission.

One of the 11 thematic objectives for the CSF explicitly addresses climate change adaptation. The key actions under the thematic objective 5 "Promoting climate change adaptation and risk prevention and management" are proposed for the ERDF and Cohesion Fund, including:

  • development of strategies and action plans for adaptation to climate change and risk prevention and management plans at national, regional and local level and for building up a knowledge base and data observation capacities, and mechanisms for the exchange of information;
  • increased investment in adaptation to climate change and risk prevention and management, including: avoiding damage and increasing resilience to the built environment and other infrastructure; protecting human health; decreasing future pressure on water resources; investing in flood and coastal defences; and decreasing the vulnerability of ecosystems in order to increase ecosystem resilience and enable ecosystem-based adaptation;
  • development of tools (detection, early warning and alert systems, risk mapping and assessment); and increased investment disaster management systems, to facilitate disaster resilience and risk prevention and management for natural risks, including weather-related risks (such as storms, extreme temperature events, forest fires, droughts, floods) and geophysical risks (such as avalanches, landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes), and to support societal responses to industrial risks (early warning systems, risk mapping).

Key actions for the EAFRD address:

  • sustainable water management, including water efficiency (with regard to ecosystems), through the creation of on-farm water storage zones; support for water-efficient cropping patterns; and the establishment and management of forest protection belts against erosion;
  • improved soil management through support for practices to prevent soil degradation and depletion of soil carbon stock, such as low tillage, winter green cover, and the establishment of agro-forestry systems and new forests;
  • ensuring a high potential for adaptation to climate change and diseases and maintaining genetic diversity, especially by supporting local crop varieties and livestock breeds.