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EU Grants and procurement

An overview of the two main ways in which the EU spends its money: grants and public procurement.


A grant or call for proposals is a public invitation by the Contracting Authority, addressed to clearly identified categories of applicants, to propose operations within the framework of a specific EU programme.

The Commission makes direct financial contributions in the form of grants, to support projects or organisations which further EU interests or help implement an EU programme or policy.

Grants and funding are awarded by:

  • the Commission Directorate-General directly responsible for the policy in question
  • Commission offices and agencies around Europe
  • other authorities (national or regional authorities, also in non-EU countries, etc.).

Grants are based on the reimbursement of the eligible costs: costs effectively incurred by the beneficiaries that are deemed necessary for carrying out the activities in question. The results of the action remain the property of the beneficiaries.

Grants are subject to a written agreement signed by the two parties and, as a general rule, require co-financing by the grant beneficiary. Since grants cover a very diverse range of fields, the specific conditions that need to be fulfilled may vary from one area of activity to another.

In preparing a call for proposals, the Commission must respect the following principles:

  • equal treatment of all applicants or beneficiaries
  • non-cumulative: each beneficiary may not get more than one grant per action or per financial year
  • non-retroactive: actions already completed are excluded from EU funding
  • co-financing: the Commission and the beneficiary will share the costs
  • non-profit: grant beneficiaries may not generate profit with the EU grant they receive.

Public procurement

Public procurement is used by the Commission for the purchase of services and material necessary to the working of the European institutions. Those include both intellectual and non-intellectual services (statistical or audit reports, consultancy work, interpretation, maintenance of the Commission buildings, etc.) and material (office stationary, IT equipment, building work, etc.).

All procurement procedures follow the principles of:

  • transparency: the Commission has to publish all relevant information concerning its purchases;
  • equal treatment and non-discrimination: all interested parties will be treated in the same way;
  • widest competition: increasing the choice of potential suppliers and achieving a better value for money result;
  • proportionality: the choice and organisation of the call for tenders have to be proportionate to the subject and value of the purchase.

For more information on rules and procedures on grants and procurement, and for a list of the open and upcoming calls for funding proposals, visit the "Funding, Tenders" page.