EU funding: The main funding opportunities from the European Union.

The following article provides a summary of the all the active EU funds programs for private companies.

The programs are financed by the initiatives NextGenerationEU and MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework).

EU Funding - Table of contents

  • Horizon Europe
  • Euratom Research and Training Programme
  • InvestEU
  • Connecting Europe Facility
  • Digital Europe Programme
  • European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
  • REACT-EU Program
  • Creative Europe
  • European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund
  • Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE)
  • Innovation Fund 

(A) Single Market, Innovation and Digital

Research & Innovation

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation (R&D).

It tackles climate change, helps to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and boosts the EU’s competitiveness and growth.

The programme facilitates collaboration and strengthens the impact of research and innovation in developing, supporting and implementing EU policies while tackling global challenges. It supports the creation and better diffusion of excellent knowledge and technologies.

It creates jobs, fully engages the EU’s talent pool, boosts economic growth, promotes industrial competitiveness and optimises investment impact within a strengthened European Research Area.

Legal entities from the EU and associated countries can participate.

The opportunities to receive any funding increases for joint ventures of companies based on different countries of the European Union.

Euratom Research and Training Programme

The Euratom Research and Training Programme is dedicated to advancing key research endeavors through both direct and indirect initiatives. These encompass:

  • Security
  • Spent fuel management
  • Nuclear safety
  • Radioactive waste
  • Radiation protection
  • Fusion energy

Additionally, the program extends its research scope to cover non-power applications of ionizing radiation.

A significant focus of the Euratom Programme lies in the enhancement of nuclear skills and competence.

This involves improvements in education, training, and accessibility to research infrastructures.

These efforts are aimed at enabling Europe to sustain its global leadership in nuclear safety and waste management while achieving the highest standards of protection from radiation.

European Strategic Investments


The InvestEU program is an evolution of the Investment Plan for Europe, which successfully generated over €500 billion in investments from 2015 to 2020.

Aimed at initiating more than €372 billion in investments between 2021 and 2027, InvestEU seeks to enhance innovation and job growth across Europe. It aims to secure and attract long-term investments that align with EU objectives and aid in economic recovery.

InvestEU plans to mobilize significant private and public capital, backed by an EU budget guarantee inspired by the effective execution of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

The program will be supported by a €26.2 billion budget guarantee, funded through NextGenerationEU resources and the Multiannual Financial Framework.

It is anticipated that the total investments mobilized will exceed €372 billion throughout the EU, with 30% dedicated to climate-related goals.

InvestEU will be organized into four policy areas:

  • Sustainable infrastructure
  • Research, innovation, and digitization
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • Social investment and skills

Strategic investments under these four categories will focus on strengthening European value chains and supporting critical infrastructure and technologies. This approach will address the emerging needs of the European economy and enhance the EU's self-reliance in vital sectors.

Connecting Europe Facility

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) stands as a crucial EU financial tool designed to drive growth, job creation, and competitiveness via strategic infrastructure investments at the European level. It underpins the expansion of high-performance, sustainable, and well-connected trans-European networks across transport, energy, and digital services. By addressing critical gaps in Europe’s infrastructure for energy, transport, and digital sectors, CEF investments play a pivotal role.

All Member States reap the benefits of the CEF, which facilitates easier and more eco-friendly travel, boosts Europe’s energy independence while encouraging the adoption of renewable energy sources, and improves cross-border exchanges among public administrations, businesses, and citizens.

The CEF encompasses three primary sectors:

  • Transport
  • Energy
  • Digital

A principal focus of the CEF is to foster and amplify the interplay among these three areas. Undertakings that span multiple sectors have the potential to optimize costs or outcomes by consolidating financial, technical, or human resources. This approach significantly boosts the efficiency of EU funding.

Digital Europe Programme

The Digital Europe Programme allocates funds to projects in five key domains:

  • Supercomputing
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Cybersecurity
  • Advanced digital skills
  • Broad application of digital technologies in the economy and society

This programme aims to close the divide between research in digital technology and its application in the market.

It's structured to advantage both the citizens and businesses of Europe, with a particular focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The funding provided under the Digital Europe Programme is instrumental in advancing the European Union's dual goals of ecological sustainability and digital evolution, while simultaneously enhancing the Union's resilience and autonomy in the digital realm.

(Β) Cohesion and Values

Regional Development & Cohesion

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The ERDF allocates financial support to both public and private entities in all EU regions with the goal of minimizing economic, social, and territorial imbalances. The Fund fosters investment through specific national or regional initiatives.

During the 2021-2027 period, the fund aims to drive investments that will transform Europe and its various regions to become:

  • More innovative and competitive, particularly by fostering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as advancing digitisation and enhancing digital connections.
  • Greener, with an emphasis on low-carbon and resilience strategies.
  • Better connected through improved mobility solutions.
  • More socially oriented by promoting effective and inclusive job markets, education, skills development, social inclusion, equal access to healthcare, and bolstering the role of culture and sustainable tourism.
  • More engaged with local communities, encouraging local-led development and sustainable urban growth throughout the EU.

The ERDF operates under a shared management system. Local authorities initiate projects tailored to their unique requirements. The Fund is regulated by the Common Provisions Regulation.

REACT-EU Program

The REACT-EU initiative, standing for Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe, enhances the crisis response and recovery measures initially implemented through the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) and its subsequent enhancement, CRII+. This program acts as a transitional link to more long-term recovery strategies.

This program is designed to back investment projects that not only help repair the damages caused by the crisis but also pave the way for an economic revival that is environmentally sustainable, digitally advanced, and resilient. It includes measures to preserve employment, support part-time work arrangements, and assist self-employed individuals.

Additionally, REACT-EU can aid in creating new jobs, especially for young people, bolster healthcare systems, and provide both operational funding and investment assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises.

REACT-EU is not a standalone funding mechanism; instead, it supplements the funding from the 2014-2020 allocations of the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund. These funds are available for use until the end of 2023, extending the availability of the original allocations.

Investing in People, Social Cohesion & Values

Creative Europe

Creative Europe" is a European Commission initiative aimed at bolstering the cultural and audiovisual industries. This program is a continuation of its predecessor, maintaining its support for Europe's cultural and creative realms through 2027.

This program is structured into three main areas:

  • The "Culture" section focuses on various cultural and creative fields, excluding the audiovisual sector. It encompasses a diverse array of areas like architecture, cultural heritage, design, literature, publishing, music, and performing arts. This segment fosters collaborations and exchanges among cultural entities and artists within and outside Europe.
  • The "MEDIA" segment is dedicated to the European film and audiovisual sectors. Its objective is to aid these industries in developing, distributing, and promoting European productions, especially considering the modern digital landscape.
  • Lastly, the "Cross-sectoral" aspect aims to enhance cooperation among different cultural and creative industries. This is to address shared challenges and innovate solutions across these sectors.

Overall, Creative Europe plays a pivotal role in nurturing the cultural and creative industries, fostering collaboration, and adapting to new digital realities.

(C) Natural Resources & Environment

Agricultural & Maritime Policy 

European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund

The European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) is the designated fund for the European Union's maritime and fisheries policies covering the years 2021 to 2027.

This fund plays a crucial role in several areas:

  • It aids fishers in shifting towards more sustainable fishing practices.
  • It assists coastal communities in diversifying their economic activities.
  • It funds projects aimed at creating new employment opportunities and enhancing life quality in European coastal areas.
  • It promotes the development of sustainable aquaculture.
  • It backs the implementation of EU maritime policy.

Notably, the EMFAF places special emphasis on small-scale coastal fisheries, young fishers, and the outermost regions. It also focuses on encouraging sustainable aquaculture.

A key goal of the fund is to simplify the process for applicants to obtain financing, while simultaneously ensuring better outcomes

Environment & Climate Action

Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE)

The LIFE programme is designed with several key objectives in mind:

  • It aims to encourage the transition to an economy that is sustainable, circular, energy-efficient, reliant on renewable energy, and both climate-neutral and resilient.
  • The programme focuses on the protection, restoration, and enhancement of environmental quality, encompassing elements like air, water, and soil.
  • It is dedicated to stopping and reversing the loss of biodiversity.
  • The programme addresses the issue of ecosystem degradation.

The financial resources for the LIFE Programme are distributed through four distinct sub-programmes:

  • Nature and Biodiversity
  • Circular Economy and Quality of Life
  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
  • Clean Energy Transition

The programme is known for supporting a variety of projects, including demonstrations, best practices, coordination, support actions, capacity building, and governance-related initiatives.

This encompasses significant projects like Strategic Integrated Projects and Strategic Nature Projects. These projects are integral in supporting the implementation of environmental and climate plans, strategies, and programs at regional, multi-regional, or national levels.

(D) Innovation Fund 

The Innovation Fund, which is sustained by the proceeds generated from the EU Emissions Trading System, stands out as one of the most significant global funding programs. Its primary objective is to provide support for the development and adoption of environmentally friendly technologies by companies located within the European Union.

This fund is dedicated to promoting cutting-edge clean technologies and significant flagship initiatives that offer European benefits and have the potential to substantially reduce emissions and greenhouse gases. The range of projects eligible for funding under the Innovation Fund is wide-ranging, encompassing various pioneering technologies in sectors such as energy-intensive industries, renewable energy, energy storage, carbon-neutral transportation, building solutions, hydrogen, as well as carbon capture, utilization, and storage. It's important to note that these projects must be based in the European Union or the European Economic Area.

Now, let's break down which sectors and projects receive financing from the EU's Innovation Fund:

1. Renewable Energy Sector: This category covers various forms of renewable energy

2. Energy Storage: The Innovation Fund provides support for projects related to hydrogen production and its utilization for energy storage.

3. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): There are two main types of CCS projects that can receive funding:

  • Full chain CCS projects
  • Part chain CCS projects with secured storage contracts.

4. Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU): This fund finances projects that capture CO2 and other carbon-containing gaseous emissions and convert them into usable fuels or products.

5. Cross-cutting: The following types of projects are eligible for EU subsidies:

  • Any combination of the activities mentioned above
  • Carbon capture from various industrial plants, CO2 transport, utilization, and storage
  • Low-carbon hydrogen utilization, storage, and infrastructure projects
  • Hybrid renewable energy systems

(E) STEP - Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform 

The Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) has a primary objective of enhancing investments in critical technologies and sectors within the European Union.

STEP's core aim is to direct both new and existing funding programs towards investments in advanced digital, clean, and biotechnologies throughout the EU.

Additionally, the program seeks to provide support to projects that aim to integrate these technologies effectively into the real economy.

Moreover, STEP introduces a 'Sovereignty seal,' an EU-issued quality designation for top-tier projects that align with STEP's objectives.

This designation is expected to enhance the visibility of these exemplary projects and attract increased investments from both the public and private sectors.

STEP - Sectors and Projects Eligible for Financing

STEP places a high priority on the following key areas:

  • Green technology
  • Advanced digital technologies
  • Biotechnologies