The ERDF Federal Transport Infrastructure Programme is a thematic programme financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The programme provides financial assistance to investment in federal transport infrastructure that is located in the German convergence (or objective 1) regions.
EU structural funding
Together with the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund, the ERDF is designed to help reduce the economic, social and territorial inequalities within the European Union. The causes of these disparities include the backwardness of certain Member States and regions, the acceleration of economic and social restructuring and the ageing of the population.
With the help of these structural funds, the EU attempts to redress the regional imbalances in the EU. Various objectives have been defined:
The funds' priority is the "Convergence" objective (objective 1). The other objectives are "Regional Competitiveness and Employment" (objective 2) and "European Territorial Cooperation" (objective 3). Within the scope of the "Convergence" objective (2007 – 2013 programming period) or "objective 1" (2000 – 2006 programming period), financial assistance is provided to regions whose per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is less than 75 percent of the EU average. Most of these regions are located in the new Member States. However, in a transitional phase lasting until 2013, regions whose per capita GDP was less than 75 percent of the EU 15 average (number of EU states before enlargement to the east in 2004) were also provided with financial assistance under the "Convergence" objective (phasing out).
The programme was launched in the 2000 – 2006 and 2007 – 2013 EU programming periods. For the 2014 - 2020 programming period the Federal Government and the federal states agreed not to implement an ERDF Federal Transport Infrastructure Programme.
ERDF funding strategy
The ERDF Federal Transport Infrastructure Programme is designed to help support the efforts being made by the federal states to achieve economic growth. The starting point is the accelerated delivery of selected federal transport infrastructure projects that are of supraregional significance. Access to the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), and thus the structural factors determining the regions' competitiveness, are to be improved, infrastructure transport bottlenecks hampering economic development are to be reduced and better accessibility by transport is to be achieved. The projects to be funded are coordinated between the Federal Government and the federal states.
Under the 2000–2006 ERDF federal programme, resources from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) were, for the first time in Germany, used to upgrade federal transport infrastructure. The interventionist approach of the operational programme (OP) entitled "ERDF Federal Transport Infrastructure Programme 2007 to 2013" followed on from and evolved the programme in the 2000 to 2006 period.
The ERDF funds provided by the European Commission for the two programmes have been entirely used.