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International Partnerships

With grants, we financially support specific projects or operations that are in line with our external action objectives. These financial donations can cover a wide range of sectors and areas and are usually awarded following a call for proposals. Any development organisation meeting the requirements of a specific call can apply for the related grant.


A grant is a financial donation awarded by the contracting authority to the grant beneficiary. It is funded by the EU general budget or the European Development Fund (EDF). There are two main types of grants:

  • An action grant funds a specific action intended to help achieve one of our policy objectives.
  • An operation grant funds the operating costs of an organisation pursuing an objective supporting our policies.

Standard rules for grants

A grant is awarded based on a proposal made by an applicant to the contracting authority (usually in the frame of a call for proposals). The action to be covered by the grant must be clearly defined by the applicant in their proposal. Once the grant is awarded, the applicant becomes the grant beneficiary, is responsible for the implementation of the action, and owns its results.

Grants are governed by the following principles:

  • Transparency and equal treatment The grant award process is a public and fully transparent procedure and it guarantees the non-discrimination of all applicants.

  • Nationality rule – Applicants for grant contracts must be established in an eligible country, as defined in the terms of the calls for proposals.

  • No-profit rule – The action covered by a grant may not generate profits.

  • Co-financing – Grants usually cover only part of the eligible costs and the grant beneficiaries need to pay part of the costs on their own.
    Exceptions The 2018 financial regulation applicable to the EU general budget has introduced the possibility:

    • for grants to not be linked to costs

    • for a single lump sum to cover all eligible costs (financing in full)

  • Non-cumulation – A grant beneficiary may receive no more than one grant per action funded and no more than one operation grant per financial year.

  • Non-retroactivity – Grants may not be awarded to actions that are already completed or have already started.
    Exception – Exceptionally, if the applicant can duly justify the need for the action to start prior to the grant contract signature, we may accept for the grant to cover earlier costs.

Grant management modes

Direct management

When we directly manage grants, we fill the role of the contracting authority, which means that we are responsible for the entire award procedure, from the publishing of calls for proposals to the award decisions, signing of the grant contracts, and monitoring of their implementation.

Calls for proposals and grants under direct management are subject to the prior publication of a related work programme.

Further information on programmes can be found in the Policies section of this website.

Indirect management

Indirect grant management means that we have concluded a financing agreement with a third party (for example, the government of a partner country) which fills the role of the contracting authority, while we perform prior authorisation controls of the main steps of the procedure.

In most cases, the contracting authority must submit to us the details of the proposed grants and, where required, the draft grant contracts for endorsement. They also need to notify us once grant contracts are signed.

In exceptional cases, the contracting authority does not need prior authorisation from us to award a grant.

We are always responsible for publishing grant guidelines and award notices.

How to apply for a grant?

  1. Search for a grant opportunity on our Calls for proposals and tenders publication website.
  2. Read the guidelines for grant applicants carefully and check if your organisation is eligible.
  3. Register your organisation in the Potential Applicant Data Online Registration (PADOR).
  4. Submit your application within set deadline and under the call’s terms, either by post if allowed or, in most cases, online via the e-Calls PROSPECT portal.

These are the main steps to follow. For more information on how to apply for a grant, please visit the EXACT Wiki.