It is very important that DEİK and other organizations representing the private sector engage in activities that will raise awareness about the Horizon Europe program and encourage the sector to benefit from these programs more

Despite the occasional ups and downs in Turkey-EU relations, the financial cooperation of Turkey-EU has been the area where we have achieved the most tangible gains in our EU membership process in the last 20 years. With the EU fund of €9.2 billion allocated to our country since 2002, tens of thousands of projects have been implemented in many areas, increasing our citizens’ quality of life.

The Directorate for European Union Affairs has put forward a holistic and strategic approach as of 2019 in order to benefit from EU funds at the maximum level. By means of the IPA Action Plan implemented, the rates of contracting and spending on projects were significantly increased. Despite the pandemic conditions in 2020, a contracting rate of 99.2% was achieved in the funds allocated to Turkey. This was a success seen exemplary not only among candidate countries but also by all member countries. This year, the new era of EU financial operation, IPA III, begins. IPA III will be implemented in 2021-2017, the new budget period of the EU. In the IPA III funding allocation, the EU has realized performance and quality-oriented change and created a total fund pool of €12.5 billion for 7 candidate countries, without allocations on a country basis.

The new period will bring many new funding opportunities to our business world. Industrialists, SMEs, and entrepreneurs will be able to present their projects in the IPA III priority area titled “Private Sector Development, Trade, Research & Development”. In this context, projects of innovation centres, creative SMEs, new creative initiatives, and low-carbon emission projects will be able to receive grant support. All grant calls for EU funds can be accessed through “” on the website of the Directorate for EU Affairs.

Within the scope of the IPA III priority area “Civil Society”, it is possible to fund projects that improve cooperation among non-governmental organizations during the EU membership process. In this context, our business umbrella organizations, including the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK), have the opportunity to develop joint projects with their counterparts in EU countries. In the new period, the two main areas to shape the future of Europe will be the European Green Deal and Digital Europe. The EU aims to be a “Carbon-Neutral” continent by 2050 within the framework of the Green Deal. In other words, it is anticipated that carbon emissions caused by economic activities will be balanced through decarbonisation methods.

Within the framework of Digital Europe, Europe aims to achieve digital transformation effectively in all areas of its policies, to increase its human and economic potential, and thus better tackle global challenges. Union Programs constitute one of the most important implementation instruments of the European Green Deal and Digital Europe policies. The most prominent of these programs is Horizon Europe, the world’s technology, and innovation program with the largest budget.

The EU’s technology and innovation program will be implemented in 2021-2027 under the name of Horizon Europe with a budget of €95.5 billion. Our industrial organizations will have the opportunity to receive grant support by producing innovative and high-tech projects in areas such as digitalization, health, the environment, agriculture, and energy. In this context, cluster calls under the “Global Problems and Industrial Competition” area, the largest budgeted (approximately €50 billion) component of Horizon Europe, will begin as of May, and the first calls will continue until September. I consider it important that DEİK member organizations follow these calls and inform and encourage the industry.

With the Horizon Europe, innovation emerges as a program component on its own. The EU will significantly fund SMEs and start-ups in the upcoming period through the European Innovation Council (EIC) that it has established with a budget of €13.5 billion. In this context, innovative projects will be able to receive funds of €2.5 – 4 million, depending on their technology development level and proximity to the market. Moreover, start-ups with worldwide growth potential that develop ground-breaking products and services will be able to receive up to €15 million in venture capital support.

In order to make the most of the Horizon Europe program, it is of great importance to reveal the potential of our industrial organizations, SMEs, and entrepreneurs by increasing their institutional capacity in the area of EU funds. In the Horizon 2020 program in which we have participated in 2014-2020, while our industrial organization that received the highest grant support provided a fund of €7 million, we see that counterpart organizations in other European countries are able to receive supports of more than €100 million.

In this context, it is very important that DEİK and other organizations representing the private sector engage in activities that will raise awareness about the Horizon Europe program, develop cooperation with their European counterparts, and encourage the sector to benefit from these programs more. At this point, I consider that our business councils under DEİK are of substantial importance in developing this cooperation.

On the other hand, the budget of the Union program called Erasmus+ from which currently 60,000 citizens of ours benefit each year has increased from €14.8 billion to €28.4 billion. Even though Erasmus+ is known as a student exchange program in our country, it is also a program that includes opportunities for our business world. It is important for our industrial organizations and SMEs to apply more for the opportunities of the Erasmus+ program in the field of vocational training, in terms of increasing their institutional capacities. Within the scope of Erasmus+, a fund opportunity of €1.5 – 4 million is available for Vocational Excellence Centres and other education cooperation projects to be developed in partnership with the private sector and universities.

In addition to Horizon Europe and Erasmus+, through other Union Programs in which we will participate, our business world will have the opportunity to get a share from a fund pool of €150-200 billion, share experiences, and make joint projects in 2021-2027. As the Directorate for EU Affairs, we continue our efforts to benefit effectively and efficiently from EU funding opportunities in the new period of financial cooperation between Turkey and the EU, in consultation with all our stakeholders.

In this context, we will continue to inform our business world regularly about the funding opportunities offered in the new period, provide support for project preparation processes, facilitate cooperation with potential project stakeholders, and support the communication and visibility aspects of project activities. With the above-mentioned in mind, I wish success to DEİK, one of the leading representatives of our private sector, in their work, and hope to have an efficient cooperation process together in the projects that our business world will develop in the new period

Director-General for Financial Cooperation and Project Implementation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Directorate for EU Affairs Bülent Özcan