Economic and Social Cohesion

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Economic and Social Cohesion

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The EU’s cohesion policy aims to help each region achieve its full potential, to bring about a convergence of living standards and prosperity across the EU. It is a policy of investment in job creation, competitiveness, economic growth, improved quality of life and sustainable territorial development. These investments support the delivery of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

As the EU bank, promoting economic and social cohesion is one of the priorities that guide us throughout our activities. We help to deliver growth, jobs and cohesion in Europe by supporting the implementation of EU regional policy.

In 2018, the EIB’s support for cohesion objectives within the EU accounted for 31.8% of total lending.


Cohesion policy is implemented principally through the EU Structural and Investment Funds: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.  By directing funds to the areas and sectors where they can make the greatest difference, cohesion policy aims to reduce the significant economic, social and territorial disparities that still exist between Europe’s regions. As the EU bank we often co-finance projects alongside EU funds and help to attract other investors to maximise the impact of our financing.

Funding for cohesion policy focuses on strategic areas such as:

• supporting small and medium-sized businesses
• promoting research and innovation
• investing in a cleaner environment, energy efficiency and tackling climate change
• backing strategic infrastructure, including improving access to digital technology to boost links to remote regions

Developing the West Pomerania region

Click to play the videoPlay the video

How a EUR 64 million framework loan from the European Investment Bank helped the West Pomerania region in Poland improve transport safety, upgrade its health services and protect the cultural heritage. 

Athens metro on-going upgrades

We have provided a total of EUR 1.5bn to co-finance the on-going development of the Athens metro. This investment has helped take an estimated 200 000 cars off the road each day and has improved growth potential and quality of life.


Our loans help public and private sector borrowers in less prosperous areas of Europe to implement projects that do not only make commercial sense, but also bring benefits to society as a whole, raising living standards and creating jobs. Through a mixture of loans and advisory services, the EIB plays a critical role in addressing regional economic imbalances and raising living standards across the EU.