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Regional Youth Funding in Europe

In addition to Youth in Action, the EU has several other funding programs of relevance to the European youth sector, which can be used by youth organizations or other structures interested in youth or young people to finance their initiatives. These are:



Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a pilot project initiated by the EU. It helps new entrepreneurs acquire relevant skills for managing small or midsize enterprises (SMEs) by spending time in a business in another EU country. It contributes to improving the entrepreneur’s know-how and fosters cross-border transfers of knowledge and experience among entrepreneurs. The program seeks to:

  • facilitate on-the-job-training for new entrepreneurs in SMEs elsewhere in the EU in order to facilitate a successful start and development of their business ideas;
  • exchange experience and information among entrepreneurs on obstacles and challenges to starting up and developing their businesses;
  • enhance market access and identification of potential partners for new and established businesses in other EU countries;
  • encourage networking among entrepreneurs by building on knowledge and experience from other European countries.

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs provides practical and financial assistance for new entrepreneurs spending time in the business of experienced host entrepreneurs in other EU countries. New entrepreneurs travel to an experienced entrepreneur in another EU country and work with him or her for one to six months. Matching new entrepreneurs with host entrepreneurs is carried out with the help of the intermediary organizations.

This program is financed by the European Commission and operates across 21 EU countries with the help of more than 100 intermediary organizations competent in business support (e.g., Chambers of Commerce, startup centers, incubators, etc.). Their activities are coordinated at European level by EUROCHAMBRES, the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry, which acts as a support office.

The stay abroad must be completed within 12 months and should total between one month and six months. Within this time span the stay may be divided into a number of shorter time slots (minimum one week per slot), which the new entrepreneur spends at the host entrepreneur’s business. Activities of the new entrepreneur during the stay abroad may include shadowing a senior host entrepreneur; market research and developing new business opportunities; project development, innovation, and R&D; taking a fresh look at existing business operations; understanding SME finance; branding, sales, and marketing of the host entrepreneur’s company; and working on concrete projects from one or more of the above-mentioned areas.

In addition to the above, which is specifically targeted at young people, the EU’s Culture, Citizenship, Lifelong Learning, Media, PROGRESS, and Competitiveness and Innovation programs, as well as its European Structural Funds can be used by different intermediary organizations and structures in the youth sector to finance their initiatives. These funds are more complicated to access than those for Youth in Action, which is specifically conceived for use by young people and their organizations and informal associations and therefore has simplified application procedures. Nevertheless, for those professional actors, their organizations, and other structures such as universities, think tanks, and professional associations within the youth sector, as well as specialized ministries in member states, these funds can provide support for large-scale, medium- to long-term initiatives with larger budgets and more ambitious objectives to improve the sector’s functioning and professionalism. Information on the workings of each of these programs is available at:

Culture: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/our-programmes-and-actions/doc411_en.htm

Citizenship: http://ec.europa.eu/citizenship/index_en.htm

Lifelong Learning: http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-programme/doc78_en.htm

Media: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/media/index_en.htm

Progress: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=327&langId=en

Competitiveness & Innovation: http://ec.europa.eu/cip/index_en.htm

European Structural Funds: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/official/regulation/newregl0713_en.htm