Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home topics Institutions Introduction to EU Funding

Introduction to EU Funding

28 September 2009
by inadim -- last modified 29 September 2009

The European Commission awards money in the form of grants in order to implement projects or activities in relation to European Union policies. These grants may be awarded within fields as diverse as research, education, health, consumer protection, protection of the environment, humanitarian aid, etc.


Who can request a grant?

The grant beneficiaries are mainly private or public organisations, and exceptionally individuals, chosen by the European Commission for their capacity to implement the projects concerned.

How does one request a grant?

Since grants cover a very diverse range of fields, the specific conditions that need to be fulfilled vary from one field to another. It is therefore important to consult carefully the rules of each grant programme. However, some basic principles apply in every case. Grants:

  • are a form of complementary financing. The EU does not finance projects up to 100%; only projects taking place outside the European Union have the possibility to be financed in full;
  • enable a given operation to break even financially and cannot lead to a profit for their beneficiaries;
  • cannot be awarded retroactively for actions that are already completed.

In addition, only one grant may be awarded for the same action.

Grants are not awarded on a case-by-case basis. Instead, they are subject to annual programming. Before 31 March each year, those Departments of the Commission that manage grant programmes publish their annual work programme on their Internet site. The work programme fixes the broad outlines of the grants that are envisaged over the year (area of activity, objectives, timetable, available budget, award conditions, etc…). By consulting these work programmes you may thus already identify the fields which interest you.

Subsequently, the Commission’s Departments publish calls for proposals on their Internet sites; the calls for proposals invite candidates to present, within a given deadline, a proposal for action that corresponds to the objectives pursued and fulfils the required conditions. These calls for proposals can also be published in the Official Journal of the European Union – C series.

All applications are examined and evaluated on the basis of criteria that have clearly been announced in the calls for proposals, while ensuring equal treatment; candidates are individually informed of the final decision concerning their proposal.

Some grants are exceptionally awarded directly to certain beneficiaries without a call for proposals. This may be due to their specific competences or characteristics which meant that they are the sole beneficiaries for certain actions (situations of monopoly), or to the emergency nature of the action (humanitarian aid in particular).

As grants are made with public money, the European Commission applies the principle of transparency. Thus, by 30 June of each year, the Commission Departments publish on their Internet sites the list of the grants that they awarded during the previous year, with the exception of those awarded in the form of scholarships to individuals.

Note: besides grants awarded following calls for proposals, the Commission's departments also conclude public procurement contracts for the supply of goods, implementation of works or provision of services. These contracts are concluded following calls for tenders. If you wish to obtain further information on this subject and to know about the pending procedures, you can consult the sites of the various Commission departments and the Official Journal of the European Union, where the tender notices are published.

Source: European Commission