Types of Funding
The EU awards grants to organisations and, occasionally, individuals, to help them carry out projects that further its policies and objectives. Grants are usually in the form of complementary financing meaning that the beneficiary organisation will also have to put up a percentage of the funding for their project.
Loans, guarantees and equity
The EU provides loans, guarantees and equity as forms of financial assistance to support its policies and programmes.
Prizes and awards
Prizes are rewards to winners of contests under a range of EU initiatives.
The Commission uses public contracts to buy services, works and goods from the market for its internal use. They are selected via calls for tenders and not considered a form of EU funding.
Regional Policy Funds
Regional policy is the main EU investment strategy under the EU's cohesion policy (2014-2020), with a budget of over €350 billion. The policy is delivered through five funds, which together form the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). The European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund deliver the majority of the financing. They are jointly administered by the European Commission and national authorities in the EU countries.
The funds support 11 thematic priorities that have been set by the cohesion policy, including two that are relevant for Urban Mobility:
- Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy
- Promoting sustainable transport improving network infrastructures
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
- The ERDF promotes balanced development in the different regions of the EU.
- ERDF finances INTERREG which covers four interregional cooperation programmes. While each programme can support urban transport projects, URBACT specifically focuses on fostering sustainable integrated urban development.
- Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) is an Initiative of the European Union that provides urban areas throughout Europe with resources to test new and unproven solutions to address urban challenges. The initiative has a total ERDF budget of €372 million for 2014-2020.
Cohesion Fund (CF)
The CF supports transport and environment projects and is aimed at Member States whose Gross National Income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90% of the EU average.
Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)
CEF was created to accelerate the development of transport infrastructure across the EU. European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund interventions are planned in close cooperation with the support provided from the CEF, to ensure complementarity and avoid duplication of efforts.
The total budget for CEF Transport is €24.05 billion for the period 2014-2020 and INEA is the gateway to most of this fund.
In 2019, the European Commission (EC) together with the European Investment Bank (EIB) launched a new CEF Transport Blending Facility, serving as a pilot for the next financial period. This is an innovative financial instrument to support projects contributing to the environmental sustainability and efficiency of the transport sector in Europe. With an initial budget of EUR 200 million from the EU budget, the Facility will finance investments in the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and in Alternative Fuels infrastructure, leveraging funds from the EIB, National Promotional Banks and private sector.
Horizon 2020 (H2020)
Horizon 2020 is the EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly €77 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) in the areas of transport and energy. Horizon 2020 calls for research & innovation projects of relevance to urban mobility include:
- Smart, green and integrated transport
- Smart Cities and communities
- Next-generation batteries
- Green vehicles
- Nature based solutions
Horizon 2020 projects in urban mobility have been grouped under the CIVITAS initiative.
- Across a network of European cities, this initiative tests and implements innovative solutions for cleaner and better urban transport and mobility.
- CIVINET Activity Fund is a programme that supports the take-up of sustainable urban mobility measures in Europe by providing financial assistance for specific activities programme’s city networks (CIVNETS).
- CIVITAS Forum Network members can participate in the annual CIVITAS FORUM conference and present the results of their urban mobility measures within technical sessions and/or the exhibition.
Horizon 2020 also supports the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking 2014-2020.
This aims to accelerate the commercial deployment of hydrogen-based energy and transport solutions across Europe through a total investment of €1.33 billion.
European Investment Bank
The European Investment Bank (EIB), known as the EU’s bank, is owned by the EU’s Member States. The EIB offers finance and expertise for projects that support innovation, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), infrastructure and climate action. Lending, blending and advising are the three main instruments utilised by the EIB. Some of the most relevant instruments from the perspective of urban mobility are:
- The EFSI is a €26 billion guarantee from the EU budget, complemented by a €7.5 billion allocation of the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) own capital. EFSI is implemented by the EIB Group and projects supported by it are subject to usual EIB procedures.
- The STP – Road Safety Advisory as hosted by the European Investment Advisory Hub (the Hub), is a gateway to advisory services to support the uptake of funding and financing opportunities for projects that improve road safety.
Loan Guarantee Instrument for Trans-European Transport Network Projects (LGTT)
- The LGTT can partially cover risks in public-private-partnership transport projects.
- ELENA is a joint initiative by the EIB and the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme. ELENA provides grants, mainly to cities and regions, for technical assistance focused on the implementation of energy efficiency, distributed renewable energy and urban transport projects and programmes.
- FELICITY is a joint initiative of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It supports a number of urban sub-sectors including public transport and infrastructure
European Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF)
- The EEEF aims to promote a sustainable energy market and climate protection by attracting additional capital into climate financing.
InnovFin financing tools
Available under Horizon 2020, this tool covers a wide range of loans, guarantees and equity-type funding.
Special Support and Financial Instruments
- LIFE is the EU's financial instrument for the environment, nature conservation and climate action, in the 2014-2020 funding period. It is managed by the European Commission’s DG Environment and DG Climate Action. Under the theme of climate change mitigation, projects focusing on the efficient use of energy in the transport sector are supported.
The EIB, together with the European Commission, has set up four special support instruments:
- Provides technical assistance to prepare high-quality major projects to be financed by the ERDF and CF, including CEF projects. It targets assistance on infrastructure projects which are defined as 'major' projects in the Common Provisions Regulation.
- Promotes the use of financial engineering instruments to improve access to finance for SMEs via Structural Funds interventions.
- Supports sustainable urban development and regeneration through financial engineering mechanisms.
Provides both technical assistance and financial support to non-bank micro-credit providers and helps them to improve the quality of their operations, to expand and to become sustainable.