The Structural Funds represent the largest share of Community funding, but they are not paid directly by the Commission to beneficiaries. On the contrary, they are assigned to the States and to the Regions after a long negotiation phase and a long procedural process.

In Italy, the main Structural Funds are organized in National Operational Programs (PON) or Regional Operational Programs (POR), in addition to cross-border and interregional programs (INTERREG and similar). The Operational Programs are then usually distinguished for each Structural Fund. There will therefore be a POR for each region for the European Social Fund (FSE), a POR for the European Fund for Regional Development (FESR) and a POR for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (FEASR). Actually, for the 2014/2020 program the Ministries and some Regions have proposed integrated FSE/FESR programs.