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The main European Funding programmes are the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund programmes, known jointly as the European Structural and Investment Funds.

The European Structural and Investment Fund programme will allocate more than £426m to the North East for 2014-2020. The ESIF programme aims to support the North East Strategic Economic Plan for 'More and Better jobs' for the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) area.

The NELEP geography is made up of 7 local authority areas, including Sunderland, Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside.

Sunderland City Council, as part of the North East Technical Assistance Project (part funded through the 2014 to 2020  ESIF Programme), is able to provide support to help you apply for ERDF and ESF.

For further information please contact:

Financial Resources Team (Commercial Advice)

Tel: 0191 561 1158


European Regional Development Fund

The ERDF programme focuses on five key priorities:

  • Promoting Research and Development (£45.4m)
  • Enhancing the Competitiveness of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (£100.3m)
  • Supporting the Shift towards a Low Carbon Economy in all Sectors (£65.9m)
  • Promoting Climate Change Adaptation, Risk Prevention and Management (£9.2m)
  • Promoting Social Inclusion and Combating Poverty and Any Discrimination: Community Local Led Development (£5m).

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is responsible for day-to-day management and implementation of the ERDF programme and is accountable to the Local ESIF Committee. DCLG and the ESIF Committee work together to ensure that the ERDF programme is managed and delivered successfully.

In total, the ERDF programme is worth approximately £226m to the NELEP area for the 2014-2020 period.

European Social Fund

ESF focuses on improving employment opportunities, promoting social inclusion and investing in skills by supporting people to fulfil their potential. The two main priorities for this programme are:

  • Inclusive Labour Markets, which combines activities to address employment barriers and social inclusion (£96.4m)

  • Skills for Growth, which aims to develop new projects to meet key skills requirements among employees and businesses (£104m).

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for day-to-day management and implementation of the ERDF programme, and is accountable to the Local ESIF Committee. DWP and the ESIF Committee work together to ensure that the ESF programme is managed and delivered successfully.

European Transnational Funding

Transnational funding is a potential source of funding for organisations that want to work with European partners on a joint project activity.

Calls for projects for these programmes are issued regularly, while some programmes only have one annual call.

Brexit and what it means for European funding

The impact of Brexit on the UK's involvement in future European programmes is part of the on-going negotiations between the UK Government and European Commission. The latest UK Government position is outlined below.

In October 2016, the Chancellor set out that the guarantee for ESIF-funded projects announced in August 2016 will be extended to the point at which the UK departs the EU.

Where projects secure EU funding before we exit, payments will be guaranteed even after Britain has left the EU. Each Government department will have responsibility for the allocation of money to projects in line with these conditions and the wider rules on public spending.

There is a full press release regarding the guarantee for ESIF-funded projects.

External Links

European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) - Funding opportunities are issued via open calls for projects on the national website.

Three Co-financing organisations have been appointed to manage a proportion of ESF funds for the NELEP area.

The remaining ESF funds are issued via open calls for projects on the national ESIF

Transnational - A number of transnational funding programmes are available to UK organisations and businesses including:

  • Creative Europe supporting Europe's cultural and creative sector
  • ERASMUS+, the EU's programme for education, training, youth and sport
  • Europe for Citizens, which aims to contribute to citizens' understanding of the EU, its history and diversity
  • HORIZON 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme
  • INTERREG, a series of five programmes to stimulate cooperation between regions in the European Union, such as the North Sea and North West Europe Programmes
  • LIFE, the EU's financial programme for the environment and climate action
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