Funding instruments

Funding instruments

Funding instruments provide the legal basis for the implementation of geographic and thematic programmes. For the period 2014-2020, the EU has mainly nine instruments covering external cooperation and external aid.

Thematic instruments

In addition to regional and country-based assistance, the EU supports development through programmes with a specific thematic focus. Thematic programmes are always implemented using a horizontal approach, and are coherent with and complementary to geographic instruments.

The results of EU funded thematic programmes are found all over the world. These programmes are about protecting human rights, promoting democracy, eradicating poverty, fostering self-sufficiency in food production, improving education and protecting health and the environment.

The programmes are implemented on the basis of thematic multiannual indicative programmes which specify the priorities and overall funding for a period of 3 years and annual action programmes which further establish the specific projects to be financed. The EU has mainly five thematic instruments for external cooperation and channelling external aid.

European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)

The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) aims to help establish democracy, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights and basic freedoms.

Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP)

The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace helps to prevent and respond to crises and create a safe and stable environment in partner countries. It intends to provide a swift-response in political conflicts, complement humanitarian relief and interventions when natural disasters occur, enhance the EU capacity for crisis preparedness, conflict prevention and peace building, and build capacity to address global and trans-regional security threats. 

Partnership Instrument (PI)

The Partnership Instrument is an innovative instrument, with the objective to advance and promote EU interest by supporting the external dimension of EU internal policies and by addressing major global challenges.

Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC)

The Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC) promotes a high level nuclear safety, radiation protection and the application of efficient and effective safeguards of nuclear material in non-EU countries worldwide.

In addition to these, the geographic Development Cooperation Instrument has two more thematic programmes.


Geographical instruments

Geographical programmes focus on development priorities defined for a specific country or region. The Commission draws up strategy papers in cooperation with the beneficiary countries. They are based on the specific needs and situation of regions and partner countries and also take their performance into account.

The multiannual indicative programmes set out priority areas and financial allocations and serve as the basis for the implementation of aid.

Based on these strategies, yearly action programmes are adopted defining more specific objectives and fields of intervention, as well as expected results and the specific amount of available funding.

Instrument for Development Cooperation (DCI)

The Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) covers cooperation with partner countries and regions, namely: Latin America, Asia, Central Asia, the Middle-East and South Africa.

Besides the geographical dimension, the DCI is also the legal basis of two thematic programmes which aim to address different global challenges:


'Global Public Goods and Challenges' (GPGC). The GPGC supports actions in areas such as:

  • environment and climate change
  • sustainable energy
  • human development, including decent work, social justice and culture
  • food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture
  • migration and asylum. 

'Civil society organisations and local authorities': this programme provides greater support to civil society and local authorities to encourage them to play a bigger role in development strategies.

Finally, also the Pan-African programme is part of the DCI, covering the whole of Africa.

European Development Fund (EDF)

The European Development Fund (EDF) provides aid for 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) partner countries of the Union and for the Overseas Countries and Territories of Member States. It aims to stimulate economic development, social and human development, regional cooperation and integration.

Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance II (IPA)

The IPA provides assistance to countries directly in line to become members of the European Union (such as the Republic of North Macedonia, Turkey and Croatia) and the Balkan countries (Albania, Serbia, Kosovo*, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro). The IPA is managed by DG NEAR under the responsibility of Commissioner Hahn. For more information, see DG NEAR.

European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI)

The ENI is the funding instrument for European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which covers cooperation with South Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Jordan, Israel, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, the occupied Palestinian territory and East neighbourhood countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) either bilaterally or regionally (in this latter case also Russia is included. It aims to encourage democracy and human rights, sustainable development and the transition towards a market economy in neighbouring countries. The ENI is managed by DG NEAR under the responsibility of Commissioner Hahn. For more information, see DG NEAR.

Instrument for Greenland (IfG)

The partnership between the EU on the one hand and Greenland and the Kingdom of Denmark on the other hand aims to preserve the close and lasting link between the partners while supporting the sustainable development of Greenland. Also, it acknowledges the geostrategic position of Greenland in the Arctic region. Instrument for Greenland (IfG)


* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.


  • 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