The Structural Funds is the main financial instrument of the regional policy of the EU. The EU has been actively financing its regional policy since the 1970s, however has only been called the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund Guidance section (EAGGF GF), jointly referred to as the Structural Funds, since 1988, to which the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) set up during the last enlargement was added.

The total budget of the Structural Funds for the 2000-2006 period will be 213 billion Euros.