Guide to REA (EU) campaigns

Every year, the European Commission launches a call for proposals to fund promotional and communication campaigns for promoting agri-food products both within and outside of the European Union. The primary promotion objectives outside of the EU are markets with significant growth potential, including but not limited to mainland China, Hong Kong,  Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, China Taiwan among others. 

The call for proposals is in accordance with the Regulation (EU) No 1144/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on information provision and promotion measures concerning agricultural products implemented in the internal market and in third countries. The EU’s body that coordinates these campaigns is the European Research Executive Agency (REA).

There are two types of campaigns or programmes:

  • Simple Programmes, when one or several applicants (also known as beneficiaries or proposing organisations), are from the same Member State. Simple programmes are implemented in shared management with the Member State where the applicant is from. The financial contribution for simple programmes from the European Union covers eligible expenses of 70% for internal campaigns and 80% for third markets.
  • Multi Programmes may be submitted by at least two applicants from at least two different Member States or by one EU-level applicant that represents the interests of the industry in several Member States. The multi programmes are managed directly by REA. The financial contribution for simple programmes from the European Union covers eligible expenses of up to 80%.

Eligibility criteria to use these EU funds

Trade or inter-trade organizations at the Member State or EU level, Producer Organizations and Associations of Producer Organizations as well as Agri-Food Sector Bodies, representing at least 50% of the number of producers or marketable production, are eligible organizations that could apply for the call for proposals.

There is a bit more to it, so that’s why we have developed a very comprehensive guideline to elegibility, check it out here:

If you are not sure if your organisation is eligible

Campaign duration and activities

The programmes should be conducted over a period of a minimum of one year and up to three consecutive years. The promotional and information campaigns should cover activities such as management of the project, advertising, public relations, point-of-sale activities, participation in significant events and fairs on a national, European, and international level, website and social media activities, and communication tools.

What products and schemes are eligible?

The promotional programmes cover a wide range of products including meat, cheese, eggs, beer, bread, pastry and derived products, bread, pastry, confectionery, beverages made from plant extracts, pasta, salt, honey, milk etc. Wine is covered only with a designation of origin and protected geographical indications (PGI), similar to spirits with PGI or as basket approach in third markets

The quality schemes cover products with protected designation of origin (PDO), protected geographical indications (PGI) and traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG). Other quality schemes eligible are organic production methods as well as national quality schemes.

Can you mention the origin of the product?

Campaigns must not be origin-focussed, but it is permissible to mention the origin of products as long as they are at the same level than the main Union message of a campaign. 

What costs are eligible?

Generally, any expenses that are necessary for the successful execution of the campaigns in the target markets are eligible. 

Proposing organisations (i.e. associations) can include in the budget the costs for the actions undertaken to manage the project and to make sure that it is implemented as planned. This includes, for example, the cost of the time spent by the personnel working for the association in charge of coordination, as well as their travel costs.

However, as a rule of thumb, all costs incurred by individual companies that are part of the proposing association are not eligible. For example, the cost of flight tickets incurred by producers to attend a tradeshow where the campaign has a booth is not eligible for reimbursement.

Can you display company brands?

It is preferable not to, but it is possible. If there are more than five brands, you would need to justify why the inclusion of brands is necessary to achieve the objectives of the campaign and how this will not dilute the main EU message. If there are less than five brands, you would also need to justify why there are fewer than five brands.

When displaying brands, they must take up no more than 5% of the total area (e.g. on a tradeshow booth). It is crucial to remember that the main objective of the program is to enhance the competitiveness of the European agri-food sector. Therefore, all efforts must be directed towards promoting the product while highlighting its European identity.

How difficult is it to get funded?

Well, that depends. There is a significant level of competition for funding in these projects, but for associations that do a good preparatory work, the chances of success are high, particularly when applying for multi programmes.

In 2023, 98 proposals for simple programmes were received and 50 were approved (51%), while only 21 were received for multi programmes and 18 were approved (86%). This low number of multi proposals received in the 2023 call is unusual, but multi proposals always have a higher chance of getting approved. In 2022, 116 proposals for simple programmes were received and 55 were approved, while multi proposals got a 68% approval ratio. In 2021, out of the 198 proposals received, 37% of the single proposals were approved, while 59% of the multi-promotion proposals were approved.

A crucial aspect of “good preparatory work” is the selection of the implementing body of the activity (i.e. a communication agency). Having selected a communication agency to implement the project can be viewed positively by the evaluator, as it demonstrates that the proposing organisation is already committed to the action and has a viable plan to execute it. Many proposals that are awarded, fail to materialise as associations are not able to implement them in accordance with the submitted plan.

Success rate of proposals in 2023