EU Funding Programmes 2014-2020

All objectives and funding programmes for the period of 2014-2020 follow the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy. This summary will help boroughs identify EU funding opportunities suitable for their borough priorities. Any boroughs interested in participating in an EU project or who want further information should contact Héloïse Thibault

The latest information on how Brexit might impact European funding can be found here.

Horizon 2020 is the European Programme for research and innovation for the funding period 2014-2020. It is part of the EU’s drive to create growth and new jobs in Europe. Horizon 2020 consists of three priorities, which are implemented through specific programmes and a dedicated financial contribution.

  • Excellent science: Promoting scientific excellence and the European research systems. The budget for the programme is €25 million.
  • Industrial leadership: Increasing and supporting competitiveness and European industrial leadership. The budget for the programme is €17 million
  • Societal challenges: Responding to the major societal challenges Europe is facing by helping to bridge the gap between research and the market. The budget for the programme is €30 million.

The programme to address societal challenges particularly supports the priorities of local authority partners. The programme covers a wide range of policy areas, including providing €30million to address major concerns such as climate change, developing sustainable transport and mobility, and making renewable energy more affordable. Funding rates vary from 75-100% depending on the project activity.


The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) supports sustainable and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks and infrastructures in the sectors of transport, telecommunications and energy. The programme objective is to contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth within three thematic areas:

  • Energy: CEF aims to close financial gaps and to reduce bottlenecks in the energy infrastructure. The thematic priorities will be smart grids, intelligent, electricity highways and cross-border COcooperation.
  • Transport: CEF supports projects pursuing the integration and interconnection of transport modes, sustainable and efficient transports services, and the construction of missing links and removal of bottlenecks.
  • Telecommunications: CEF will support projects that accelerate the deployment of fast and ultrafast broadband networks and that promote the interconnection and interoperability of national public service online as well as access to such networks.

The overall budget for the programme is €50 billion with €9.1 billion dedicated to energy infrastructure, €9.2 billion for broadband infrastructure and €31.7 billion for transport infrastructure.  The co-financing rate for grants for studies is up to 50% with grants for works varying between 20-75%.


The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is one of three main funds that have been set up under EU regional policy.  The ERDF aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between member states. The ERDF supports projects covering a range of policy areas, including climate change and environment, energy and transport infrastructures, health, social inclusion and sustainable urban development. Projects under the ERDF will be concentrated on four thematic priorities: innovation and research, the digital agenda, support for SME’s and the low-carbon economy.

The programme will provide funds of £3.6 billion to support local growth across England, of which at least £605 million will support the shift to a low-carbon economy (energy efficiency and renewable energies). The percentage of funds dedicated to each sector depends on the economic development of regions. The maximum EU co-financing rate for more developed regions will be 50%.


The Interreg North-West Europe (NWE) Programme is a transnational European Territorial Cooperation Programme funded by the European Union. The programme promotes the economic, environmental, social and territorial future of the NWE area. The programme has identified three thematic priorities: innovation, low carbon and resource and material efficiency. The three priorities cover a range of policy areas, including transport and mobility, renewable energy, climate change and resource efficiency.

The three thematic priorities are sub-divided into one or more specific objectives. Thematic priority two, low carbon, and objectives three and four are especially suited to local authority partners.

Innovation: Focuses on tackling the territorial gap and disparities in innovation performance amongst regions

Specific Objective: To enhance innovation performance of enterprises throughout the NWE regions. This specific objective will lead to enhance innovation performance of enterprise in NWE. The NWE Programme uses the following definition for ‘enhance innovation performance’: ‘to better exploit research outcomes for the development of new technologies, products, processes and services generating an impact on the social, demographic, spatial, economic and environmental condition of NWE territories.

Low Carbon: Addresses the challenge of finding ways to reduce Greenhouse gases (GHGs) to meet climate change goals. In regards to transport, a high energy consuming sector, NWE remains heavily reliant on road transport for the movement of goods and people. With the motorisation rate above the EU28 average in the majority of NWE area tackling energy use, pollution, and CO2 emissions is addressed in this priority.

Specific Objective 2: To facilitate the implementation of low-carbon, energy and climate protection strategies to reduce GHG emissions in NWE. This Specific Objective will lead to a reduction of emissions, less energy consumption and an increase in the use of renewable energy in NWE, in particular in public buildings, public infrastructure and social housing. The aim is to ensure NWE cities are more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Specific Objective 3: To facilitate the uptake of low carbon technologies, products, processes and services in sectors with high energy saving potential, to reduce GHG emissions in NWE. This specific objective will lead to reduced GHG emissions and pollution and optimise the regions’ energy consumption and production in the NWE areas. The expected result of initiatives undertaken within this specific objective will be the removal of barriers to the adoption of and improvement of conditions for low carbon technology deployment by enterprises.

Specific Objective 4: To facilitate the implementation of transnational low-carbon solutions in transport systems to reduce GHG-emissions in NWE. This specific objective will lead to reduced GHG emissions in transport systems in NWE. The programme aims to improve the conception and coordination of low carbon transport and mobility solutions by the sector by increasing its institutional capacity. The objective does not support stand-alone solutions, but focuses on transitional transport systems.

Resource and Materials Efficiency: Promote the transition to a resource-efficient and ultimately regenerative circular economy.

Specific Objective 5: To optimise (re)use of material and natural resources in NWE. This specific objective will lead to an optimised use of material resources and a reduction in the use of natural resources in NWE. Success will be measured in terms of the use and uptake of eco-innovations in NWE, but also in terms of the resource savings and (waste) recycling rates they generate. The Programme aims to accelerate the transition of the NWE economy to a circular model by enabling spill-over effects of eco-innovation in the resource intensive industry.

There are then nine types of project (or ‘action’) being funded based on the five specific objectives outlined above. Further information on the types of actions is available on the project website.

The programme has a budget of €372 million to co-finance projects at a rate of 60%. 



The LIFE Programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. To reflect the importance of climate-related action, the LIFE Programme 2014-2020 includes a dedicated sub-programme for climate action. The LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Change 2014-2020 is divided into two sub-programmes:

  1. LIFE Environment: The Environment sub-programme of LIFE 2014-2020 is the main EU funding mechanism for projects in the area of the environment. The sub-programme focuses on the priority areas of environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity and environmental governance and information.The programme focuses on three priority areas:
  • Environment and Resource Efficiency
  • Nature & Biodiversity
  • Environment Governance & Information 
  1. LIFE Climate Action: Supports public authorities in implementing low-carbon and adaptation technologies and new innovative methods and approaches responding to the challenges of climate change in Europe.  The Climate Action sub-programme will provide €864 million in co-financing for climate projects. The programme focuses on three priority areas:
  • Mitigation: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in key sectors.
  • Adaptation: Increasing resilience to climate change with a particular focus on urban adaptation
  • Governance and information: Enhancing climate governance and capacity-building, increasing awareness, communication, cooperation and dissemination of information on mitigation and adaptation actions.

There is a proposed allocation of €3.4 million for the LIFE Programme over the period 2014-2020. This will be divided as follows:

  • Environment - €2.6 million
  • Climate Action - €900 million

Funding rates vary from 55-100% depending on the project activity.

The URBACT funding programme is jointly financed by the European Regional Development Fund and EU Member States. URBACT does not directly invest in urban development. Instead the programme facilitates the sharing of knowledge and good practice between cities and other levels of government, with the aim to improve the quality of planning and implementation of integrated urban plans and programmes in cities.

The call priorities are based on the thematic areas of the EU cohesion policy for 2014-2020 of which four will be of particular interest to borough priorities:

  • Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors (TO4)
  • Promoting low-carbon strategies for urban areas, including the promotion of sustainable multi-modal urban mobility
  • Protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency (T06)
  • Investment in the waste and water sectors, promoting green infrastructure and improvements to the urban environment, and reduction in air pollution.
  • Promoting climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management (TO5)
  • Supporting investment for adaptation to climate change, including ecosystem-based approaches, promoting investment to address specific risks, and ensuring disaster resilience.
  • Promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures (TO7)
  • Supporting multimodal mobility, developing and improving environment-friendly (including low-noise) and low-carbon transport systems, developing railway systems, and promoting noise-reduction measures, improving energy efficiency and security of supply.

The programme is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF); the total budget for 2014-2020 is €74 million, including €68 million dedicated to projects promoting sustainable urban development. The ERDF will provide funding of 70% for cities from more developed regions and 85% for less-developed and transition regions. 

Urban Innovation Actions (UIA) is an initiative of the European Commission; the programme was launched in order to identify and test new solutions which address issues related to sustainable urban development and are of relevance at Union level. The main aim of the UIA Initiative is to provide urban authorities across Europe with space and resources to test bold and unproven ideas addressing interconnected challenges and experiment how these respond to the complexity of real life. Projects supported shall be innovative, of good quality, designed and implemented with the involvement of key stakeholders, result oriented and transferable.

The topics that urban authorities can address in the framework of the UIA Initiative relate to the 12 topics that Member States, representatives of local authorities, NGOs, European and national associations of cities, as well as experts and the Commission, have identified within the frame of the European Urban Agenda. Topics of interest include: Air Quality, Climate Adaptation and Urban Mobility.

For each Call for Proposals, the Commission will define a limited number of topics that will be announced on the UIA website.

The initiative has a total European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) budget of €372 million for 2014-2020. UIA offers a funding rate of 80% and will fund projects up to €5 million.

The Interreg Europe programme aim is to improve the drafting and implementation of regional policies and programmes. The programme identifies four thematic objectives which are addressed in two supported actions. 

Specific objectives:

  • Strengthening research, technological development and innovation
  • Enhancing the competiveness of SMEs
  • Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors
  • Protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency.


Supported Actions:

  • Projects: the programme funds interregional cooperation projects which allow partners from the different EU Member States to work together on a shared regional policy issue under the four thematic objectives supported. By adopting successful approaches from other project partners, the regions involved in these projects should improve the way their programmes and policies are implemented.
  • Platforms: the programme provides assistance to all European regions through policy learning platforms covering the four thematic objectives. These platforms will offer services such as individual advice, peer reviews, thematic seminars and recommendations on the design and implementation of Structural and Investment Funds programmes.

The total budget for the programme is €359 million. For Interregional Cooperation Projects a budget of €322 million is available. The co-financing rate for partners in the United Kingdom will be 75%. The Policy Learning Platforms will be financed at 100% with a budget of €15.3 million available.