Hercule III - Protection of the financial interests of the EU


The Programme helps finance concrete projects such as the purchase by national authorities of x-rays scanners and other technical equipment to stamp out smuggling and other criminal activities against the EU’s financial interests.


Each of the following bodies shall be eligible for funding under the Programme:

  • (a) national or regional administrations of a participating country, which promote the strengthening of action at Union level to protect the financial interests of the Union;
  • (b) research and educational institutes and non-profit-making entities provided that they have been established and have been operating for at least one year, in a participating country, and promote the strengthening of action at Union level to protect the financial interests of the Union.

Participating countries shall be the Member States and:

  • (a) acceding States, candidate countries and potential candidates benefiting from a pre-accession strategy, in accordance with the general principles and general terms and conditions for the participation of those States and countries in Union programmes established in the respective framework agreements, Association Council decisions or similar agreements;
  • (b) partner countries under the European Neighbourhood Policy provided that these countries have reached a sufficient level of alignment of the relevant legislation and administrative methods with those of the Union. The partner countries concerned shall participate in the Programme in accordance with provisions to be determined with those countries following the establishment of framework agreements concerning their participation in Union programmes;
  • (c) the countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) participating in the European Economic Area (EEA), in accordance with the conditions laid down in the Agreement on the European Economic Area.

Representatives of countries forming part of the stabilisation and association process for countries of South-Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, of certain countries with which the Union has concluded an agreement for mutual assistance in fraud-related matters, and of international and other relevant organisations, may take part in activities organised under the Programme wherever this is useful for the achievement of the general and specific objectives provided for in Articles 3 and 4 respectively. Those representatives shall participate in the Programme in accordance with the relevant provisions of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012.


The Programme shall provide, under the conditions set out in the annual work programmes referred to in Article 11, appropriate financial support for all of the following actions:
(a) provision of specialised technical assistance for the competent authorities of the Member States through one or more of the following:

  • (i) providing specific knowledge, specialised and technically advanced equipment and effective information technology (IT) tools facilitating transnational cooperation and cooperation with the Commission;
  • (ii) ensuring the necessary support and facilitating investigations, in particular the setting up of joint investigation teams and cross-border operations;
  • (iii) supporting Member States’ capacity to store and destroy seized cigarettes, as well as independent analytical services for the analysis of seized cigarettes;
  • (iv) enhancing staff exchanges for specific projects, in particular in the field of the fight against cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting;
  • (v) providing technical and operational support for the law enforcement authorities of the Member States in their fight against illegal cross-border activities and fraud affecting the financial interests of the Union, including in particular support for customs authorities;
  • (vi) building information technology capacity throughout participating countries by developing and providing specific databases and IT tools facilitating data access and analysis;
  • (vii) increasing data exchange, developing and providing IT tools for investigations, and monitoring intelligence work;

(b) organisation of targeted specialised training, and risk analysis training workshops, as well as, where appropriate, conferences, aimed at one or more of the following:

  • (i) further fostering better understanding of Union and national mechanisms;
  • (ii) exchanging experience and best practices between the relevant authorities in the participating countries, including specialised law enforcement services, as well as representatives of international organisations;
  • (iii) coordinating the activities of participating countries, and representatives of international organisations;
  • (iv) disseminating knowledge, particularly on better identification of risk for investigative purposes;
  • (v) developing high-profile research activities, including studies;
  • (vi) improving cooperation between practitioners and academics;
  • (vii) further raising the awareness of the judiciary and other branches of the legal profession for the protection of the financial interests of the Union;

(c) any other action not covered under point (a) or (b), provided for in the annual work programmes referred to in Article 11, which is necessary for attaining the general, the specific and the operational objectives.


The financial envelope for the implementation of the Programme for the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020 shall be EUR 104 918 000, in current prices.

€ 104.918.000
European Commission
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