Posted on 25 Nov 2020 Last updated on 1 Dec 2020

The Wheel has launched Access Europe, a new support and capacity-building programme to help Irish civil society organisations access EU funding. The three-year project is being funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Commenting on the launch of Access Europe, Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, TD, said, “It is vitally important that civil society organisations are fully aware of the wide range of possible EU funding opportunities. The Wheel, as National Contact Point, will play a key role to publicise these and to also improve the capacity of civil society to apply for these funding opportunities”.

Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel added, “The funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is a very significant investment in civil society and the social economy. Through its various funding programmes, the EU offers a multitude of opportunities for Irish civil society to engage in projects to help reach strategic goals. As a sector, we are not fully engaging in these opportunities, and are therefore not actively contributing to shaping EU policy through this engagement. The Access Europe programme aims to address this through its capacity-building programme.”

Membership of the Access Europe programme is free and provides access for any part of civil society to:

  • updates on EU funding calls and opportunities
  • free training and information events
  • one-to-one support for applications
  • networking with potential partners.

Today’s launch event included contributions from experts on the social economy and the EU’s Social Economy Action Plan to be published in 2021. A significant proportion of Europe's economy is focused on making profits for people other than investors or business owners. Known as the social economy, it includes, non-profit associations, mutual societies, foundations, cooperatives and social enterprises. They engage in broad number of commercial activities, provide a wide range of products and services and generate thousands of jobs in Ireland. However, access to EU funding is a significant challenge for many of these organisations – the Access Europe programme will open new opportunities for many of these organisations , as well as thousands of charities and community and voluntary groups across Ireland.  

Join the Access Europe programmer free of charge at