EU Competitive Funding

There are a range of EU competitive funding programmes which government, businesses, organisations, and individuals in Northern Ireland can access. Please find below a description of some of the main funding sources and links to the relevant websites where you can find information on the open calls.

Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)

Under the CEF €5.35 billion is available for trans-European energy infrastructure projects such as gas pipelines, transmission grids, LNG terminals, gas storage, and smart grids. The European Commission has drawn up a list of 248 EU projects of common interest (PCIs) which may apply for CEF funding. This list is updated every two years. Since January 2014, the European Commission’s Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) is the gateway to funding under the CEF. INEA implements most of the CEF programme budget, in total €27.4 billion out of €30.4 billion (€22.4 billion for Transport, €4.7 billion for Energy, and €0.3 billion for Telecoms).

The Consumer Programme

The Consumer Programme 2014-2020 aims to help the citizens fully enjoy their consumer rights and actively participate in the Single Market, thus supporting growth, innovation and meeting the objectives of Europe 2020. Funding is available for government entities, public bodies and national and EU level consumer organisations. There is €188.8 million in funds available in the period 2014-2020.

Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) Programme

COSME operates through two financial instruments and will run from 2014 – 2020 with a planned budget of €2.3 billion. Its aims are to facilitate SME access to finance, create supportive environment for business creation, help small businesses operate outside their home countries and improve their access to markets.

Creative Europe

Creative Europe is the European Union’s programme to support the cultural, creative and audiovisual sectors. From 2014-2020, €1.46 billion is available to support European projects with the potential to travel, reach new audiences and encourage skill sharing and development. There are three strands to Creative Europe: culture, media and cross-sector and 18 funding opportunities within these strands each of which focus on a specific sector or activity.

Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme

EaSI is a financing instrument at EU level to promote a high level of quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions. The total budget for 2014-2020 is €919.47 million.


Erasmus+ is the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport. Erasmus+ runs for seven years, from 2014 to 2020, with organisations invited to apply for funding each year to undertake creative and worthwhile activities. Erasmus+ aims to modernise education, training and youth work across Europe.

It offers opportunities for UK participants to then study, work, volunteer, teach and train abroad in Europe.

Europe for Citizens

Europe for Citizens funds initiatives to strengthen remembrance and to enhance civic participation at EU level. It has three strands: European remembrance; democratic engagement and civil participation, and operating grants.

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation. By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges


LIFE (French: L’Instrument Financier pour l’Environnement) is the EU funding instrument for the environment and climate action, with the general objective of contributing to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation by co-financing projects with European added value.

Rights, Equality and Citizenship

The Rights, Equality & Citizenship Programme 2014-2020 aims to further develop an area where equality and the rights of persons, as enshrined in the Treaty, the Charter and international human rights conventions, are promoted and protected. It has a budget of €438 million from 2014-2020.

Third Health Programme

The Third Health Programme (2014-2020) is the main instrument the European Commission uses to implement the EU health strategy . It is implemented by means of annual work plans which set out priority areas and the criteria for funding actions under the programme. The total budget for the programme is € 449.4 million.

EU Structural Funding

Northern Ireland receives support from a number of EU Structural and Investment Funds. The five main Funds work together to support economic development across all EU countries, in line with the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. The five funds are:

  • European Regional Development Fund (ERDF);
  • European Social Fund (ESF);
  • European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD);
  • European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
  • and the Cohesion Fund (CF);

Please find below some information and links to the relevant websites about each programme:

The European Regional Development Fund

The ERDF – Investment for Growth & Jobs Programme for NI aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions. The Northern Ireland ERDF programme for 2014-2020 concentrates on innovation and research, support for SMEs, and the low-carbon economy.


The INTERREG Programme promotes transnational and inter-regional cooperation. €359 million is available under INTERREG 2014-2020 to support collaborative projects by public authorities (local, regional and national), managing authorities/intermediate bodies and agencies, institutes or other non-profit organisations. INTERREG’s key work areas are research and innovation, SME competitiveness, low carbon economy and environment and resource efficiency. The INTERREG and the PEACE Programme are managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

PEACE Programme

The PEACE Programme (The EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation) is a unique Structural Funds programme aimed at reinforcing progress towards a peaceful and stable society in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland. The INTERREG and the PEACE Programme are managed by the SEUPB.

The European Social Fund

The ESF aims to combat poverty and enhance social inclusion by reducing economic inactivity and to increase the skills base of those currently in work and future potential participants in the workforce. In NI, the strategic aim for the ESF programme for 2014-2020 is to combat poverty and enhance social inclusion by reducing economic inactivity and increasing skills.

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) supports European policy on rural development. It will run from 2014 – 2020.

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

The EMFF is the fund for the EU’s maritime and fisheries policies for 2014-2020. it is designed to support maritime and fisheries activity and help deliver the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). It is also geared to encourage the development of Integrated Maritime Policy.