Management of funds
Funding is managed according to strict rules to ensure there is tight control over how funds are used and that the money is spent in a transparent, accountable manner.
As a group, the 28 EU Commissioners have the ultimate political responsibility for ensuring that EU funds are spent properly. But because most of the funding is managed within the beneficiary countries, responsibility for conducting checks and annual audits lies with national governments.
Over 76% of the EU budget is managed in partnership with national and regional authorities through a system of "shared management", largely through 5 big funds - the Structural & Investment Funds. Collectively, these help to implement the Europe 2020 strategy.
- European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – regional and urban development
- European Social Fund (ESF) – social inclusion and good governance
- Cohesion Fund (CF) – economic convergence by less-developed regions
- European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)
- European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)
Other funds are managed directly by the EU. These are provided in the form of:
- Grants for specific projects in relation to EU policies, usually following a public announcement known as a 'call for proposals'. Part of the funding comes from the EU, part from other sources.
- Contracts issued by EU institutions to buy in services, goods or works they need for their operations – like studies, training, conference organisation, IT equipment. Contracts are awarded through calls for tender.
Recipients of tenders, grants, or development aid ear-marked for non-EU countries are published online.
Applying for funding
Can obtain EU funding through grants, loans and guarantees. Grants provide direct support, while other funding is available through programmes managed nationally.
Non-governmental & civil society organisations
May be eligible for funding, provided they are active in EU policy areas and on a non-profit basis.
Two main types of funding:
- Education & training - study opportunities through Erasmus+, support for pupils nearing the end of secondary education, and vocational training in another country
- Youth – co-funding of projects which encourage civic involvement, volunteer work and a broader multicultural outlook.
Between 2014 and 2020, the EU will provide almost €80bn in funding for research, mainly through its flagship research programme Horizon2020. This funding usually takes the form of grants, to part-finance a broad range of research projects.
Farmers & rural businesses
Most farmers in the EU are eligible for direct income-support payments. Around a third of these are given in return for green farming practices (maintaining permanent grassland, crop diversification, etc.).
Farmers also receive money based on the amount of land they hold – again in return for employing eco-friendly farming methods that preserve biodiversity, soil and water quality and keep emissions low.
EU funding also helps farmers train in new techniques and upgrade or restructure their farms. And it is also applied more broadly to improve life in rural areas, by creating jobs and providing basic services.
In addition, under rural development, young farmers can benefit from specific support for setting-up their business as well as from higher support rates for investment they make in the business.