How to Access EU and Member State Recovery Funds

Cities need concrete projects to access the more than €1 trillion available


Publication date

September 15, 2020

Between the EU’s recovery package and the recent stimulus packages announced by Germany, France, Portugal, Austria and Denmark there is more than €1 trillion to be spent in relaunching and greening Europe’s economy in the coming years. Other member states continue to develop their plans which will boost the figure much higher. It is crucial for cities to actively lobby for their fair share of those funds with concrete project proposals. Cities are at the forefront of the COVID-19 and climate change response. Stimulus spending will only be successful if the needs of cities are met.


Member States must submit their draft Recovery Plans to the European Commission by October. There will be several months of review and negotiation before the deadline for final plans at the end of April 2021.

Who to talk to

In order to ensure your city’s needs are met it is imperative to get in contact with your national finance ministry to find out where they are in the process and find out how you can contribute.

Secondly, find out who is responsible for your specific area of concern. Do you have transportation projects in mind? Social housing? Renovation of buildings or perhaps investing in renewable electricity generation in your city? Whatever your project, look to the national authority on the subject as they will be providing input for their sector.

Third, meet with the government body responsible for cohesion policy funding – that’s the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund Plus (ESF+). These funds have been underspent in many EU countries previously and represent a tremendous opportunity.

What to bring

Project ideas. The more fully-formed, the better. Ideally, they would tackle more than one issue at a time by tackling emissions and creating jobs or other social challenges such as poverty – energy efficiency, building renovation, mobility infrastructure (walking, biking, public transportation), building a more circular economy or linking rural food production and city markets should all be welcomed.

Strength in numbers

Most Europeans live in cities, and cities are at the frontlines of the efforts against climate change and coronavirus. By joining forces nationally, and through gaining media attention or combined representation to national leaders you can better convey the need, urgency and utility of green investments in our cities. Use the Energy Cities network to find like-minded cities!