What are grants?

What are grants?

Grants are financial contributions that come from the EU budget or from the European Development Fund (EDF), and are awarded as contributions to third parties to carry out external aid activities. 

Grants fall into two categories:

  • Grants for actions aim to achieve an objective that forms part of an external aid programme;
  • Operating grants finance the running costs of an entity that is working in the general European interest, or on an objective that forms part of an EU policy.

Grants are managed by a Contracting Authority. The role of the Contracting Authority may be filled by the Commission itself, or by a national body, a beneficiary country or an international organisation.

Reimbursement of costs

Grants are based on the reimbursement of the eligible costs – this means that the EU reimburses costs that are considered necessary for carrying out project activities.


The results of the project remain the property of the beneficiaries.

Requirements and conditions

All grants require a written agreement signed by the two parties and they are usually complemented by co-financing from the grant beneficiary. Grants cover a very diverse range of fields, so the specific conditions that need to be fulfilled may vary from one area of activity to another.

Visit calls for proposals to see the latest grant opportunities, and read the ‘grants’ section of the Practical Guide to Contract Procedures for EU External Actions to learn more about rules and procedures.



  • The Practical Guide explains contracting procedures for EU external aid contracts financed by the EU general budget (Budget) and the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

    Consult PRAG

  • E-learning course on the Practical Guide. Do you want to know more about EU external action procedures? See our self-learning distance course on contractual procedures.

    e-Learning PRAG

  • e-Calls PROSPECT is the electronic system developed by EuropeAid to facilitate the submission of applications for call for proposals.

    e-Calls PROSPECT

  • Potential Applicant Data Online Registration database contains information on organisations applying for European Commission grants in the field of external assistance.

    e-Calls PADOR

  • Delegated Cooperation, Cooperation with partner countries and with international organisations, Co-financing and Management Modes.

    Consult DEVCO-Companion