EU Cohesion (or Regional) policy aims to provide the investment framework and delivery system necessary to achieve the Europe 2020 objectives.
It is an investment policy which supports job creation, competitiveness, economic growth, improved quality of life and sustainable development. Cohesion policy is also a manifestation of the EU’s solidarity with less developed countries and regions, and concentrates funds to the areas and sectors where they can make the most difference in reducing the significant economic, social and territorial disparities that still exist.
The three main funds which support EU Cohesion policy are the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund. Regional policy involves all levels from the EU to the local level. Its priorities are set at the EU level, but it is mostly implemented by national and regional actors in partnership with the European Commission.
For the period 2014–2020, the key programming instruments at national/regional level are:
- the Partnership Agreement, set at the national level and
- the Operational Programmes, set at national and/or regional levels.
This section explains how gender equality can be integrated in all the structures, processes and thematic areas of National policy making when translating the Cohesion policy objectives set at the European level into the national and regional programming instruments of the ESI Funds, particularly the ESF.
Integrating gender equality is an obligation in the preparation and development of all programmes.
In order to do so, it is essential to pay attention to the dual gender equality approach, i.e. to integrating gender equality, through both gender mainstreaming and specific actions , in all steps of policy-making. The following steps are addressed in the National policy cycle: