European Anti-Fraud Office

Union Anti-Fraud Programme - Hercule component

Union Anti-Fraud Programme - Hercule component

Financial support to prevent and combat fraud (former “Hercule III” programme”)

What are the Programme’s main activities?

The financial support provided by the “Hercule” component mostly consists of grants awarded to competent authorities in EU countries to strengthen their operational and technical capacity to carry out investigations into activities detrimental to the EU budget. The financial support is used for the purchase of technical equipment and tools, such as investigation and surveillance equipment, forensic tools and data analytics technologies.

This component also finances training, staff exchanges, risk analysis workshops, conferences and comparative studies activities. It helps national authorities, research and educational institutes and NGOs in sharing best practices and improving cooperation and coordination between various actors involved in the protection of the Union’s financial interests. The programme also supports specialised training to boost and update the digital forensic and analyst skills of law enforcement staff.

What's new in this programme?

The “Hercule” component provides updated support, especially related to the “Technical Assistance” activities, taking into account the evolving fraud-related landscape, new EU programmes targeting the purchase of equipment by national authorities (such as the “Customs Control Equipment” Programme) and stronger focus on support on the expenditure side. 

The “Training” section continues to provide funding for training, conferences, seminars, studies, webinars and e-learning activities, aimed at preventing and combatting fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities affecting the Union’s financial interests. Indicative priority areas are proposed in the Call for proposals document, being updated on a yearly basis. 

Reflecting the importance of tackling climate change in accordance with the Union’s commitments to implement the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Union Anti-Fraud Programme (UAFP) aims at contributing to mainstreaming climate actions and achieving an overall target of 30 % of Union budget supporting climate objectives. To this end, the UAFP may for example better equip Member States to prevent the importation of certain illicit, climate-unfriendly products, thereby not only preventing infringements of the EU customs legislation, but also protecting the environment.

The UAFP can also provide support for the cooperation between customs and other competent authorities to fight certain fraudulent activities to the detriment of the environment, such as those related to waste shipments or illicit trade of endangered species.

The UAFP also strives to support Member States’ digital transition, for instance by funding the acquisition of IT tools supporting data analysis to detect fraud affecting revenues or expenditures, and by continuing to build national expertise on digital forensics.

What does the annual work programme involve?

The first annual work programme, adopted in July 2021 (C/2021/5338), has a budget of EUR 24.053m, of which EUR 15.16m are allocated for actions to fight fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities affecting the EU budget.

Check calls for proposals 2021

Legal background

Regulation (EU) 2021/785 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2021 establishing the Union Anti-Fraud Programme and repealing Regulation (EU) No 250/2014

Commission Decision C/2021/5338

Annex, Work Programme 2021


Implementation reports and annual overviews (Hercule II and Hercule III Programmes)