EU funding explained

The UK is no longer eligible to participate in EU funding programmes.

Before the UK left the European Union (EU), there were a large number of EU programmes which offered financial support for projects helping to deliver economic, social or environmental benefits. Organisations in Kent were able to apply for funding for projects under many of these funding programmes.

To be eligible for EU funding, your organisation usually needed to have:

  • partners from at least 3 member states
  • match funding -  this meant you needed to provide a certain amount of financing yourself to match the contribution from the EU (the rate varied according to the programme but was typically around 50%)
  • pre-financing - funding payments were usually made in arrears so you would have to spend money before claiming back the EU contribution.

EU funding programmes operate in 7 year cycles. The last cycle for which UK organisations were eligible was the 2014 to 2020 period but many projects funded by these programmes were able to operate until mid 2023.

There were 3 main types of EU funding:

Most of these programmes required multi-national partnerships and focused on particular topics such as:

  • art and culture
  • education and vocational training
  • enterprise and Innovation
  • environment and nature
  • research
  • transport.

Full list of topics

Most programmes operated a series of 'calls for proposals' during a particular year. The calls were usually specifically targeted on several key themes. They were usually published well in advance to enable potential applicants to prepare partnerships and project proposals. Beneficiaries could normally include public, private (SMEs) and voluntary sector organisations.

Overview of EU-wide funding

Funding checklist

EU INTERREG programmes aimed to help regions and cities from different EU member states to work together. They aimed to break down barriers and enable organisations to learn from each other through joint programmes, projects and networks under a variety of themes.

Organisations from Kent could apply for joint projects under 5 different INTERREG Programmes:

The Interreg 5A 2 Seas Cross-Border Co-operation Programme

  • Co-operation between eligible border regions in England, France, Belgium (Flanders) and the Netherlands.
  • Key topics: Technological and social innovation, low carbon technologies, adaptation to climate change, resource efficient economy.

The Interreg 5A France Channel England Cross-Border Co-operation Programme

  • Co-operation between eligible border regions in England and France.
  • Key topics: Innovation for economic and societal issues, low carbon economy, attractiveness of the region, balanced and inclusive development.

The Interreg 5B North Sea Region Transnational Co-operation Programme

  • Co-operation between eligible regions in the UK, Belgium (Flanders), the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Sweden (and Norway).
  • Key topics: Economic growth, eco-innovation and green technology, climate change and environment, green transport and mobility.

The Interreg 5B North West Europe Transnational Co-operation Programme

  • Co-operation between eligible border regions in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
  • Key topics: Social innovation, low carbon, resource and materials efficient.

The Interreg Europe Interregional Co-operation Programme

  • Co-operation between public authorities from across the whole EU.
  • Key topics: Research and innovation, SME competitiveness, low carbon economy, environment and resource efficiency.

Funding checklist

Some EU programmes were run on a national basis and did not require international partnerships. For 2014 to 2020, most of the available funds for England were allocated to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) areas under the European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF). The South East LEP ESIF programme covered innovation and research, support for SMEs, low carbon, skills and employment and social inclusion.

National EU funding has now been replaced by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) which operates using direct allocations to local authorities across the UK. UKSPF funding in Kent has been allocated to the 12 district and borough councils.

Nationally-run EU funding programmes

UKSPF allocations - GOV.UK

Funding checklist