Under the banner of EU Structural Funds, actually several funds are grouped. These are:
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which aims to reduce the gaps in development between the Union's regions;
The European Social Fund (ESF), which has the task of improving employment prospects in the Union;
The European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), which assists in part-financing national agricultural aid schemes and in developing and diversifying the Community's rural areas;
The Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG), which assists in the restructuring of the fisheries sector.
The Structural Funds concentrate their intervention on a limited number of priorities as follows:
: promoting the development and structural adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind.
: converting regions or parts of regions seriously affected by industrial decline.
: combating long term unemployment and facilitating the integration into working life of young people and of persons exposed to exclusion from the labour market, promotion of equal employment opportunities for men and women.
: facilitating the adaptation of workers to industrial changes and to changes in production systems.
: promoting rural development by:
: speeding up the adjustment of agricultural structures in the framework of the reform of the common agricultural policy and promoting the modernisation and structural adjustment of the fisheries sector.
: facilitating the development and structural adjustment of rural areas.
Objectives 1, 2 and 5b are specifically regional in character; they involve measures restricted to certain eligible regions or parts of regions. Objectives 3, 4, and 5a, on the other hand, cover the whole of the community.
Structural Funds support programmes which have been developed with national and regional authorities. In some Member States these include measures that may favour the financing of innovation, through e.g. the provision of venture capital. The set-up of such programmes, however, differs widely.