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Benefits of the EU budget

How the programmes and initiatives of the 2014-2020 long-term budget had an impact on European citizens' lives in different policy areas.

It helped people looking for a job

People looking for a job could count on support from the EU budget, which provided a significant contribution to job creation through the European social fund (ESF) and the European regional development fund (ERDF).

  • around €70 billion was made available under the ESF for job creation, complementing national action;
  • the European Regional Development Fund targeted key priorities such as support for small and medium-sized businesses with €140 billion over seven years;
  • efficiency in cohesion policy, rural development and the fisheries fund was also linked to economic governance to encourage compliance of EU countries with the recommendations under the European semester.

European Social Fund
European Regional Development Fund

It allowed over 4 million young people to study abroad

More young people than ever before were able to plan their stay abroad with support from the Erasmus+ programme, aimed at boosting skills and employability, which had a budget of almost €15 billion for the 2014-2020 period.

More than 4 million people were able to receive support to study, train and work or volunteer abroad.

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It supported European culture

European culture, cinema, television, music, literature, performing arts, heritage and related areas benefited from increased support under the EU's new Creative Europe programme.

With a budget of almost €1.5 billion for 2014-2020, the programme provided a boost for the cultural and creative sectors, which are a major source of jobs and growth. Among the initiatives that received funding from the Creative Europe programme were:

  • European capitals of culture
  • European heritage label,
  • European heritage days
  • EU prize for cultural heritage/Europa nostra awards,
  • EU prize for contemporary architecture,
  • EU prize for literature
  • European border breakers awards
  • Prix MEDIA

Creative Europe programme

It bridged the gap between scientific research and market

The programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, was equipped with a budget of almost € 80 billion during the previous Multiannual Financial Framework.

Under Horizon 2020 researchers and businesses across Europe could count on strongly increased and simplified EU support. It

  • provided a boost to top-level research in Europe, including the European Research Council
  • strengthened industrial leadership in innovation including through investment in key technologies
  • provided greater access to capital and support for businesses
  • helped address major challenges like climate change, sustainable transport and mobility, affordable renewable energy, food safety and security and the challenges of an ageing population
  • helped bridge the gap between research and the market

Horizon 2020

It supported and encouraged an entrepreneurial culture

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of Europe's economy accounting for around 99% of all European businesses and providing two out of three private sector jobs.

Under the COSME programme, businesses could access €2.3 billion to foster competitiveness and boost growth and jobs in Europe. COSME, the first EU programme targeted at small and medium-sized businesses, facilitated their access to markets inside and outside the EU and offered easier access to finance through loan guarantees and risk-capital.


It connected Europe through infrastructure

Growth and jobs in Europe crucially depend on infrastructure investment. With €33.3 billion over the period, the Connecting Europe facility (CEF) was the key instrument for strategic infrastructure investment at EU level in 2014-2020.

The CEF helped finance roads, railways, electricity grids and gas pipelines, and the infrastructure and services for the digital single market. The resulting better interconnections will enhance business opportunities and energy security, and make work and travel easier.

Connecting Europe Facility

It provided financial instruments to address specific market failures

A lack of public money increases the need to unlock other sources of finance. This is the purpose of financial instruments, such as loans, guarantees, equity and other risk-sharing instruments, which were used more widely in the 2014-2020 budget.

The instruments were implemented in cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Investment Fund (EIF) and national promotional banks. They addressed specific market failures in areas such as financing for small businesses, research and development projects, energy efficiency and key infrastructure.

Another instrument, the project bond initiative, provided an alternative financing channel for key infrastructure projects such as railway lines, motorways and energy transmission networks.

European Investment Bank

European Investment Fund

Project bond initiative

It made Europe a clean and competitive economy

The EU budget for 2014-2020 marked a major step forward in transforming Europe into a clean and competitive low-carbon economy. Around 20% of the budget was spent on climate-related projects and policies.

It met the needs of agricultural beneficiaries

The reformed common agricultural policy (CAP) is a response from the EU to the big challenges of today, such as food safety, climate change and sustainable growth and job creation in rural areas.

Direct payments were fairer and greener. Farmers also enjoyed a stronger position within the food production chain, and the more targeted, efficient, and transparent CAP supported a market-oriented agriculture.

Common agricultural policy

It helped create an open and safer Europe for Europeans

The EU budget helped ensure that activities that stimulate economic, cultural and social growth could develop in a stable, lawful and secure environment.

  • it helped people to feel at ease when living, travelling, studying or doing business in other EU countries;
  • it supported cooperation on civil and criminal law, allowed people to better exercise their rights and promote equality;
  • it provided funding to tackle cross-border issues, such as asylum, migration, border control and visas, and the fight against crime and terrorism;
  • the EU's ability to respond quickly and effectively to migration or security crises was stepped up through an emergency response mechanism.

It helped the poorest in the world

The overall objective for external action under the MFF is to ensure that the EU promotes democracy, peace, solidarity, stability, poverty reduction and prosperity, both in our immediate EU Neighbourhood and across the wider world.

The EU remained fully committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), where EU funding focused on helping the poorest in the world by concentrating support on fewer countries and fewer sectors.

The EU also maintained its efforts in crisis prevention in order to preserve peace and strengthen international security. External assistance instruments also strengthened the EU's engagement with other countries on global issues, such as climate change, environmental protection and regional instabilities, and allowed the EU to respond rapidly and effectively to natural and man-made disasters around the world.

More about EU crisis response