On 17 March the European Commission launched Kohesio—an open source-based platform giving users access to a transparent and searchable database that provides detailed information about EU funded projects. Across Europe, be it in villages, towns, cities or regions, the aim of the platform is to give the general public ideas and experience from projects implemented with EU cohesion policy funds.
The open source Kohesio platform provides an interactive map showing the location of projects, and projects deemed as examples of best practices are indicated with red circles. On the platform, users such as citizens and importantly journalists can find information on the actual funding, who benefits, links to key websites and when available audio-visual resources, as well as more detailed project descriptions published. It is meant to give a fuller picture of what the cohesion funding does in practice. More importantly, perhaps, is that the publicly available data on EU investment is meant to support improvements in policymaking and tackle disinformation.
The cohesion policy funds are the financial tools meant to support the implementation of the Cohesion Policy or EU Regional Policy, which, in turn, have been put in place to decrease regional economic disparities in Europe. It is an example of very tangible actions by the EU across the bloc. The policy programme’s funding arm is not insignificant, making up almost 4% of the EU budget, totalling EUR 42.6 billion for the 2021-2027 period. Kohesio, however, supports more than 500 000 beneficiaries, supported not only by the Cohesion Fund (CF), but also the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).
Several projects, such as the ‘Europe in my region’ campaign and InfoRegio, are meant to communicate the efforts and impact of EU projects to the citizens. Kohesio started as a pilot project between six Member States, and the project was managed by a collaboration of DG CNECT, DG DIGIT and DG REGIO, with the latter leading the effort. Last year, after being deemed a useful tool, it was scaled up to cover all EU member states.
‘The big added value is to have easy access to funded projects in other countries without having to search lists. If I want to know what type of projects Ireland or Malta are funding, I get the result with a few clicks. If a journalist wants to know what projects are funded in, let’s say, Salzburg, I could just point him or her to Kohesio,’ explains Claudia Anreiter, communication officer for IGJ/ERDF Austria to the European Commission’s ‘Panorama’.
As is appropriate in an effort focusing on transparency, sharing experiences and knowledge, the platform relies on open source software. Kohesio is built using Wikidata and WikiBase. This technology has been developed by Wikimedia Deutschland and allows for human and machine readable data to be linked. To do this, it uses technology such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and semantic search to make accessing the data easier.