Information on accessing EU funding


Accessing information on EU funding might be difficult and daunting task. Therefore, the European Parliamentary Research Service prepared a Guide To EU Funding 2014-2020. This funding guide constitutes a basic introduction to funding opportunities for regional and local authorities, NGOs, businesses, professionals and citizens.

Its objective is to list the most important EU funds in a simple way, and to provide appropriate information to potential beneficiaries on the opportunities they offer. As new funding elements emerge on a continuous basis, the guide will be updated regularly in order to keep up with the changes. The main funding themes are divided in subsections in order to facilitate research.

Although this guide provides a first overview of EU funding opportunities in different policy areas, applying for EU funds can be a bureaucratic and difficult process, which may require the advice of specialised staff. There are also possibilities to receive funding through a combination of financial sources. In each section, a list of major potential beneficiaries is mentioned in order to facilitate the reader. However, the list is not an exhaustive one.

Download the Guide to EU Funding 2014-2020

About EU funding

The EU provides funding for a broad range of projects and programmes covering various areas. EU funding beneficiaries may vary according to the priority strands of each project and the major priorities set by each Member State. Regional Policy targets all regions and cities in the EU in order to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and to improve citizens’ quality of life.

    • It is delivered through three main funds:

1. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
2. The Cohesion Fund (CF)
3. The European Social Fund (ESF)

    • Potential beneficiaries:
  • • Local, regional and national authorities and administrative bodies;
    • Social, cultural and educational institutions;
    • Workers’ and employers’ organisations, as well as organisations providing training,
    support for workers, labour market support;
    • NGOs and charities;
    • Public administrations and municipal institutions;
    • Companies, SMEs including micro-enterprises and Social Economy Enterprises
    and associations.

Potential beneficiaries should contact the Managing Authority responsible for
coordinating EU Structural Funds in their country for information.

    • Applying for funding

      Small businesses

      Can obtain EU funding through grants, loans and guarantees. Grants provide direct support, while other funding is available through programmes managed nationally.

      EU funding for small businesses

      Non-governmental & civil society organisations

      May be eligible for funding, provided they are active in EU policy areas and on a non-profit basis.

      EU funding for NGOs by policy area

      Young people

      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 Horizon 2020. This funding usually takes the form of grants, to part-finance a broad range of research projects.

      EU funding for research & innovation

      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.

      Rural development programmes – by country
      More information on funding on the European Commission’s website

Useful links

EU funding, European Commission
Accessing funds, European Commission
Access to finance for SMEs, European Commission
Regional policy, European CommissionEU funding for your project?
How to access EU funding?