The EU provides funding and grants for a broad range of projects and programmes covering areas such as education, health and consumer protection. Funding is managed according to strict rules to ensure that there is tight control over how funds are used and that funds are spent in a transparent, accountable manner. EU funding is complex, since there are many different types of programmes managed by different bodies. Over 76% of the EU budget is managed by the member countries. This includes the structural funds – which finance regional policy, social and training programmes, as well as agriculture (including support for farmers).

Here at KIC Ltd, the company prides itself on giving clients expert advice on how to access EU funding for specific projects and/or how to maximise the use of EU funding to support on-going activities. Clients are invited to meet up with KIC officials to identify needs, conduct checks with programme officers and ultimately determine project eligibility. Amongst other services, KIC also specialises in Project Branding, Project Conception and Graphic Design to ensure that the project is both original and professional.

Types of funding

There are basically two main types of funding:

Grants for specific projects

Grants for specific projects, usually following a public announcement known as a ‘call for proposals’. Part of the funding comes from the EU, part from other sources – this is known as the principle of ‘co-financing’.

The co-financing principle holds that part of the cost of an action or of the running costs of an entity is borne by the beneficiary of the grant or by contributions other than the European Commission’s contribution. The aim of the co-financing requirement is to make beneficiaries responsible for the operational and financial viability of their projects. Sources of financing other than an EC grant may take the form of:

  • revenue generated from the action,
  • own resources of the beneficiary body (self-financing)
  • financial contributions from other donors orcontributions in kind from third parties (in duly justified cases).

The minimum percentage of co-financing is fixed in the contract. Two (maximum) co-financing rates must be specified in the Guidelines for applicants:
One percentage which relates to eligible costs. This is used to calculate the actual amount of the EU-contribution; and One percentage which relates to the total accepted costs. This is used to calculate the required amount of co-financing by the grant beneficiary. If the amount does not reach the minimum percentage fixed in the contract, than the EU-contribution will be reduced proportionately.
Co-financing is generally welcome as a principle aiming to promote the ownership of the action by the beneficiary. However, taking account of the diversity of actors and situations, there is a need for a flexible approach, on the basis of the nature of the actors and the action (i.e. basic services delivery is to be addressed differently to governance and lobbying).
A number of requirements need to be met in order for both financing in-full and in-kind contributions to be feasible, encompassing the definition of clear criteria and due consideration of sustainability prospects and the risk of financial dependency.

Public contracts to buy services, goods or works to ensure the operations of EU institutions or programmes

Contracts are awarded through calls for tenders (public procurement) and cover a range of areas: studies,             technical assistance and training; consultancy, conference organisation, IT equipment purchases, etc.

It is worth nothing that several different bodies within the European Union are responsible for funding. For example, the ERC (European Research Council) supports investigator-driven frontier research. The ERC complements national funding activities and is a flagship component of the EU’s 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7). The ESF – (European Science Foundation) provides a common platform for its 79 member organisations to advance European research and explore new directions. Its purpose is to promote high-quality science in Europe and to foster scientific leadership. COST – The intergovernmental body European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) facilitates EU-level coordination of nationally funded research. It helps to reduce fragmentation in European research investments and opens the European Research Area to global cooperation.

The European Union has developed other types of funding that are not necessarily designed to boost development of a particular region, like the Structural and Cohesion Funds, but to emphasize actions in particular sectors: research & development, education, languages, justice, consumers, etc. The European Commission has developed website containing fact sheets about each type of grants and the department that manages those grants. Those grant programs each have their own rule regarding eligibility criteria and application processes, which differ according to the department that disburses the money. Go to “Fast jump to Grants and Loans”, then to Thematic Index and Acronyms:

Funding regulations tend to be complex, technical and specific. That is why KIC can provide expert advice on what type of funding can best suit the client’s interests.


Small businesses

Can obtain EU funding through grants, loans and guarantees. Grants provide direct support, while other funding is available through programmes managed at national level.
EU funding opportunities for small businesses

Non-governmental & civil society organisations

May be eligible for funding, provided they are active in EU policy areas on a non profit basis.
EU funding opportunities for NGOs by policy area

Young people

Erasmus+ is the new European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020. It replaces several existing EU programmes, covering all sectors of education: the Lifelong Learning Programme – Erasmus (higher education), Leonardo da Vinci (vocational education), Comenius (school education), Grundtvig (adult education), Youth in Action, and five international programmes (Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa, Edulink and the programme for cooperation with industrialised countries). For the first time, Erasmus+ will also offer EU support for sport, particularly at grassroots’ level.

Erasmus+ significantly increases EU funding (+40%) for the development of knowledge and skills, reflecting the importance of education and training in EU and national policy agendas. It aims to boost people’s personal development and job prospects.
The new programme builds on the experience and success of existing programmes such as Erasmus, but will have an even greater impact. It is based on the premise that investing in education and training is the key to unlocking potential, regardless of age or background.
The new programme is more ambitious and strategic in nature while maintaining the main aims of improving skills and employability, as well as supporting the modernisation of education, training and youth systems.
Erasmus+ will develop synergies between different education sectors and with the world of work. A single programme will result in simpler application rules and procedures, and avoid fragmentation or duplication.
The programme has several new features:

  • A loan guarantee scheme to help Master’s students finance a full degree abroad to acquire the skills needed in knowledge intensive jobs.
  • Knowledge Alliances: partnerships between higher education institutions and enterprise to promote creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship by offering new curricula, learning opportunities and qualifications
  • Sector Skills Alliances: partnerships between vocational education and training providers and enterprise to promote employability and address skills gaps by developing sector-specific curricula and innovative forms of vocational teaching.

It integrates the currently separate programmes dealing with the international dimension of higher education, meaning higher education mobility to and from third countries and capacity building projects with higher education institutions in third countries will become possible.


Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness. Running from 2014 to 2020 with a budget of just over €70 billion, the EU’s new programme for research and innovation is part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe.

Horizon 2020 provides major simplification through a single set of rules. It will combine all research and innovation funding currently provided through the Framework Programmes for Research and Technical Development, the innovation related activities of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).
The proposed support for research and innovation under Horizon 2020 will:

  • Strengthen the EU’s position in science with a dedicated budget of € 24 341 million1. This will provide a boost to top-level research in Europe, including the very successful European Research Council (ERC).
  • Strengthen industrial leadership in innovation € 17 015 million1. This includes major investment in key technologies, greater access to capital and support for SMEs.
  • Provide € 30 956 million1 to help address major concerns shared by all Europeans such as climate change, developing sustainable transport and mobility, making renewable energy more affordable, ensuring food safety and security, or coping with the challenge of an ageing population.

Horizon 2020 will tackle societal challenges by helping to bridge the gap between research and the market by, for example, helping innovative enterprise to develop their technological breakthroughs into viable products with real commercial potential. This market-driven approach will include creating partnerships with the private sector and Member States to bring together the resources needed.

International cooperation will be an important cross-cutting priority of Horizon 2020. In addition to Horizon 2020 being fully open to international participation, targeted actions with key partner countries and regions will focus on the EU’s strategic priorities. Through a new strategy, a strategic and coherent approach to international cooperation will be ensured across Horizon 2020.

Horizon 2020 will be complemented by further measures to complete and further develop the European Research Area by 2014. These measures will aim at breaking down barriers to create a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation.

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