When seeking EU funding, it can feel like you are being caught in a maelstrom of technical information, figures and paper work. Some misleading ideas gravitate, such as the need for big budgets, slow treatment of funding applications and so on. But EU funding doesn’t have to be complicated, says Alexandra Debaisieux of YTES, and it will often make a significant difference for projects at a regional, national or European levels.
Above all, EU funding is intended to help projects succeed and enable the development of innovative ideas. Here are five top tips to help you understand and gain access to EU funding:
Select the right programme for your project
European funds for the 28 member States are managed over a seven-year period. For the 2014-2020 period, this mechanism amounts to a budget of €960 billion: The common objective of all EU policies is to promote growth and employment but also to focus on "smart, sustainable and inclusive" growth. Funding is available from thematic programmes (Erasmus+, Cosme, H2020, Europe for Citizens) or from structural funds such as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) or the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Choose the relevant programme depending on the focus or the objectives of your work.
Be ready at the right moment
An EU fund application has to fit into the funding schedule. There are several calls for proposals during the year on different topics. It is crucial to know when the funding announcements are made and when your proposals should be submitted. Where possible, anticipate those calls so that you have more time to develop your funding proposal. Stay connected, read up on funding developments and follow any updates in the field.
The European Union is the emanation of the will and wishes of a lot of different countries that work together as partners. For the thematic and Interreg (cross-border territory) programmes, an EU-funded project relies on the same principle. Include several relevant partners n your project and you will likely increase your chances for your submission to be successful. You need to identify a potential partner with particular competences, facilities or experience in order to answer the selected call for proposals. Team work is required. Exchange, debate, mature, deepen your ideas and reflect that collaborative thinking in your proposal.
Know what funders are looking for and demonstrate it
Developing a proposal requires you to be aware of the expectations of the evaluators, as well as the main and specific objectives for the fund and the issues that are to be supported, whether at regional (through structural funds) or European level (through thematic programmes). Needless to say, you need to show that you are aware of what is expected in a proposal. Look at previously funded projects to get a clear picture of those expectations.
Fulfilling the jury’s expectations and applying to the right fund in the right region with well-suited partners are the foundations for every good proposal. Make yours different and include a strong innovative part in your project, something that has never been seen or done in that way before. The most important thing is to take part in the forward movement, bringing valuable ideas and projects to the table.
About Alexandra Debaisieux
Alexandra is an EU fundraising and strategic consultant founder and leader of YTES. Since 2005, Alexandra has helped charities, companies and institutions of all kinds and sizes to design successful projects and to access European funding. During her different missions, she has developed the capacity to identify and mobilise different actors with a shared interest, to facilitate network meetings, to identify challenges and to develop solutions and recommendations.