In order for it to be possible to attain sustainable and balanced regional development supported from the structural funds, two primary horizontal objectives are included in economic and social cohesion policy:
Sustainable development (achieving a balance among economic, social and environmental areas)
Equal opportunity (equality between men and women, elimination of discrimination based on sex, race, ethnicity, religion, world view, handicaps, age or sexual orientation)
Each operational programme and the project ensuing therefrom should contribute to the fulfilment of the stipulated horizontal priorities. The horizontal nature of the priorities consists in the obligation of all applicants to explain the impact that the project will have on equality opportunities and the environment and classify it as focused, positive or neutral in terms of the horizontal priority in question.
The Managing Authorities are obliged to assess the efforts undertaken within the operational programmes in terms of the horizontal priorities and include the analysed data in a special chapter of the annual and assessment reports that pertain to the operational programme.
Structural funds are intended in particular for support and development of economic and social areas; nevertheless under the condition that their use also contributes to improving the environment. It is thus necessary to observe the impact of such use on the environment, so that the contribution to the state of the environment is the greatest possible.
The degree of overlap of this issue means making provisions for sustainable development (or the environment) even in the case of those areas of intervention that are not directly focused on the environment.
Equal opportunities in the larger sense have to be respected and supported when preparing the programming period, when creating the structures for its realisation, when creating the applicant’s supporting documents, when selecting projects, when monitoring operational programme and when subsequently assessing them (evaluations).