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Cohesion Fund

The Cohesion Fund was established in 1993 through a provision of the Maastricht Treaty on European Union, and was designed to assist the least prosperous Member States in their preparation for Economic and Monetary Union. It is separate from the Structural Funds, and has its own set of principles governing eligibility of expenditure

In order to qualify for Cohesion Fund assistance, a country must have as Gross National Product of less than 90% of the European Union average. The Cohesion Fund differs from the Structural Funds in that it is based on Member States rather than regions. Member States are eligible for Cohesion Funding, while eligibility for the Structural Funds is usually specific to certain regions. Four Member States qualified as eligible for Cohesion Fund support Ireland, Greece Spain and Portugal.

The first funding period of the Cohesion Fund ran from 1993-1999 and the current period runs from 2000-2006. A mid-term review for eligibility was undertaken in 2003 and on that basis Ireland ceased to be eligible for Cohesion Funds from the end of 2003.

The Cohesion Fund finances projects in two main areas - transport and the environment. The aim of the Fund is to achieve a balance between these two areas of assistance. In Ireland Cohesion Fund projects in the area of transport have covered road, port, airport and rail projects, while environmental projects include water supply, waste water treatment, and solid waste projects.

Total assistance from the Fund for the four Member States for the 1993-1999 period was €16,700 million of which Ireland received 9% (€1,500 million); Spain 55% and Greece and Portugal each received 18%. A budget of €18 billion was allocated to the Cohesion Fund for the period 2000-2006. A range or fourchette is fixed for each Member State, and allocated on an indicative basis to each of the eligible Member States as follows:

  1. Greece 16% -18%
  2. Ireland 2% - 6%
  3. Portugal 16% -18%
  4. Spain 61% - 63.5%

During the period 1993-2003, the Community supported more than 120 important infrastructural projects in Ireland, which absorbed some €2 billion in contributions from the Cohesion Fund.

Institutional Arrangements
The Department of Finance has overall responsibility for the administration of the Fund. The implementation of projects approved for Cohesion Funds is the responsibility of the appropriate Government Department, in conjunction with the implementing bodies under their auspices, namely:

Government Departments and Implementing Bodies:
Intermediate Body Implementing Bodies Area of Expenditure
Environment, Heritage & Local Government

Local Authorities


Waste water treatment, water supply and solid waste Habitat Development
Department of Transport & National Roads Authorities Local Authorities National Roads
Department of Transport CIE Rail
Department of Transport Aer Rianta Airport development
Department Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Port Authorities Port Development

Intermediate bodies play a role in all stages of selecting and implementation of projects, and for preparation of applications to the Commission, project reports and the final report, payment claims, and monitoring information.

Visit our 'publications section' to obtain a copy of the report Cohesion Fund in Ireland (March 2004).

Image of a Word document. Download a list of projects funded by the Cohesion Fund in Ireland doc (100KB)
Image of a Word document. Download a breakdown of Cohesion Fund investment by sector in Ireland doc (25KB)

To visit the Cohesion Fund website -

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