Social Project Design: Funds


European regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aims to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions. In 2021-2027 it will enable investments in a smarter, greener, more connected and more social Europe that is closer to its citizens.

Full text of the ERDF regulation on Eur-Lex

Funding priorities 
– More competitive and smarter, through innovation and support to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as digitisation and digital connectivity•Greener, low-carbon and resilient
– More connected by enhancing mobility•More social, supporting effective and inclusive employment, education, skills, social inclusion and equal access to healthcare, as well as enhancing the role of culture and sustainable tourism
– Closer to citizens, supporting locally-led development and sustainable urban development across the EU

All regions and Member States will also concentrate at least 8% of their allocation to urban development that will be delivered through local development partnerships with different tools. Operations under the ERDF are also expected to contribute 30 % of the overall financial envelope to climate objectives.


The Cohesion Fund helps EU Member States with a GNI per capita below 90% of the EU-27 average to improve economic, social, and territorial cohesion. It focuses on environment-related investments and transport infrastructure, including trans-European networks (TEN-T).  In the 2021-2027 period, the Fund covers 14 countries, and 37% of its financial allocation (€46.6 b) is expected to contribute to climate objectives. The countries covered for this period include Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Cohesion Fund 2021-2027

Digital Europe is the new EU programme focused on building the strategic digital capacities of the EU and facilitating the wide deployment of digital technologies. It will fund investment in technologies but also in their deployment among citizens, businesses and public administration including through developing digital skills.

The 2021-2022 Work Programme focused on AI, cybersecurity, advanced computing, data infrastructure, and upskilling for critical sectors. It supports digital transformation for industry, SMEs, and public administration with European Digital Innovation Hubs. The area most relevant for cities include:
-Artificial intelligence (€ 2.061b): opening up the use of artificial intelligence by businesses and public administrations-Advanced digital skills (€577m): including by upskilling the existing workforce

Horizon Europe is composed of 3 pillars: 

  • excellent science; 
  • global challenges and European industrial competitiveness;
  • innovative Europe. 

A cross cutting element also aims at widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area. While the legal text has been already approved, the European Parliament is expected to vote only in April the specific goals that the programme aims to achieve through its various components. The final work programmes, including detailed documents with the calls planned for the first years of Horizon Europe, and the first calls for research missions, including the ambitious plan to boost public participation in tackling scientific and technological challenges, will be published after the vote. You can access the draft work programme at this link.
Research partnerships co-funded with research agencies are expected to be launched in member states at the end of 2021. The first grant agreements, on the other hand, are not expected to be signed earlier than 2022.

InvestEU provides an EU budgetary guarantee (of €26.2 bn that is expected to mobilise more than EUR 650 bn on of additional investment across Europe) indicatively distributed across the four policy windows as follows:1.Sustainable Infrastructure window: €9.9 b2.Research, Innovation and Digitisation window: €6.6 b3.SME window: €6.9 b4.Social Investment and Skills window: €2.8 b

In 2021-2027, Erasmus+ will continue to cover school, vocational education and training, higher education and adult learning, youth and sport. The fund will further promote activities which foster knowledge and awareness of the EU and opportunities related to knowledge on forward looking topics like climate change and robotics. Opportunities for students in higher education or vocational education to have an experience outside Europe will be extended. Erasmus+ should also improve the outreach and inclusion through new formats like virtual exchanges and shorter learning periods abroad. The new programme also allows for smaller and grassroots organisations to apply to funding. The administrative burden will also be simplified.

It will intensify testing new business models enabling creators to make best use of digital technology for creation and audience development. It will support European actors’ and will invest in developing creative capacities of artists and industry professionals by allowing them to collaborate across borders. It will also support initiatives that allow for social inclusion through culture.
Creative Europe calls could be out in April (at the earliest), with selection results published in the Autumn, and funding commitments by the end of the 2021.

The Cross Border Cooperation (CBC) fund is a European Union initiative that supports cooperation among border regions by providing funding for projects that address common challenges and opportunities across borders. Its main goal is to promote economic, social and territorial development and to strengthen cross-border links between communities in different EU countries.

Improved innovative capacities of the Mediterranean for smart and sustainable development; encouraging low-carbon strategies and energy efficiency; protection and promotion of natural and cultural resources of the Mediterranean; improving the governance of the Mediterranean.