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Which EU funding schemes for local authorities: EU funding 2021-2027

Are you interested in European funding? You have a project to implement and you want to raise funds to find the right financing? Our team of professionals offers you the opportunity to discover the range of aid allocated by the European Union to local authorities. We will be your best ally in finding the best proposals and in carrying out all the procedures.


What are the EU grants for local authorities?


There are 3 types of funds for which local and regional authorities can apply:

  • Structural and investment funds ;
  • Sectoral funds;
  • External Action Fund.


Focus on structural and investment funds (ESIF)

Local authorities have more access to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) which are set up to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion. In this sense, they finance projects at local level with beneficial effects for the territory and in line with the following European priorities for the period 2021-2027:

  • A smarter Europe through innovation, digitalisation and support for SMEs,
  • A greener, zero-carbon Europe,
  • A more connected Europe with digital transport and communication networks,
  • A more social Europe implementing the European social rights floor,
  • A Europe closer to its citizens supporting local development.

The structural funds are composed of 5 main entities:

  • European Regional Development Fund (ERDF): aims to invest in growth and jobs in order to strengthen the labour market in the region. It supports innovation, SMEs and the development of a low carbon economy. It also intervenes in the work of the Interreg programmes promoting European territorial cooperation.
  • European Social Fund + (ESF+): it finances projects enabling states to face the consequences of the crisis of Covid-19, to achieve high levels of employment and to develop a qualified and resilient workforce. It is the main instrument for investment in human capital.
  • European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD): targets rural development and aims to improve the competitiveness of agriculture and encourage sustainable resource management and the fight against climate change.
  • European Maritime Affairs, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF): promotes projects for sustainable, innovative and competitive fisheries and aquaculture, as well as strengthening employment and territorial cohesion.
  • Cohesion Fund: aid devolved to the least developed countries of the European Union, for which reason France is not eligible.

The management of the ESIF is entrusted to the Member States. In France, since 2014, funds can be managed by the State or by regional councils or other local authorities or groupings. Identifying the right partner is essential.

Part of the ERDF may also be reserved for Integrated Territorial Investments (ITI), which aim to develop the region’s major urban areas (metropolises or communities of communes). They are then in charge of an ERDF envelope allowing the financing of projects responding to the challenges of the territory, as well as of the region, such as the preservation of the environment or the energy transition.

Sector funds

Sectoral funds are thematic programmes. They are subject to calls for projects with the aim of supporting European or national projects. The managing and coordinating authorities for European funds are the executive agencies or the European Commission itself.

Local authorities can be lead partners or partners in large-scale European projects on different themes. Various funds are available to local authorities, including the following:

  • Horizon Europe: the European Union’s research and innovation programme to make Europe more resilient and globally competitive.
  • LIFE: implements the European Green Pact and supports environment and climate projects.
  • Erasmus +: EU programme for education, training, youth and sport in Europe.
  • URBACT: programme which aims to form networks between European cities on a given theme.
  • CERV: Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values programme, which supports projects that promote an open, inclusive and democratic European society while promoting EU values and law.

These projects are often an opportunity to develop exchanges and partnerships across the EU with other local authorities facing the same problems or having succeeded in finding solutions.

Calls for proposals or projects are published on the European Commission’s official platform: Funding and Tenders.

The External Action Funds

Grants under the EU’s external policy aim to support projects outside the EU that have a responsible and sustainable impact in the project’s host country. 79.5 billion is dedicated to them for the period 2021-2027.

Its main programme is the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe. It is divided into three main pillars:

  • The geographical pillar
  • The thematic pillar
  • The emergency pillar (rapid response)


What is the reality of local authorities’ access to European funds?

Too often, local authorities are unaware of the possibilities offered by European funds. Many funds are open to local authorities and do not necessarily require the creation of a partnership. This is notably the case for the ESIFs, which work for the development of the territory, and whose interlocutors are often close to the field and to project leaders. Local authorities are also eligible for sectoral funds that allow them to carry out projects of European scope that promote innovation and partnership and meet the EU’s priorities for the period 2019-2024:

  • A greener Europe
  • A Europe for the digital age
  • Promoting our European way of life
  • A stronger Europe on the world stage
  • An economy that works for people
  • A new impulse for European democracy

It is nevertheless advisable to check the eligibility conditions of each call for projects in the documents published by the managing authority, be it the State, the Region or the European Commission.


Test your eligibility

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