IJ4EU: Funding cross-border investigative reporting in Europe

The IJ4EU grants were launched in 2018 to foster and strengthen collaboration among European Union-based journalists and newsrooms on revelations in the public interest and of cross-border significance. The grant aims to support investigations that reflect the media’s watchdog role and that assist the public in holding those in power accountable for their actions and to their obligations. In so doing, it seeks to contribute to the sustainability of democracy and the rule of law in the EU.

The grants are administered by the International Press Institute (IPI), based in Vienna. Founded in 1950, IPI is a global network of editors, journalists and media executives dedicated to furthering and safeguarding press freedom, promoting the free flow of news and information, and improving the practices of journalism.

Funding for the grant comes from the European Commission through the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), based in Leipzig.

The first call was launced in March 2018. In June 2018, an independent jury awarded €315,000 to 12 investigative projects. Information about future calls will be provided when available.

IJ4EU is a grant-giving programme and is not involved in the editorial process of any project. Projects operate fully independently from IPI, ECPMF, the European Commission and any other IJ4EU partners. The IJ4EU partners are not responsible for any content published by the projects or use made of out of them.

Information about the 2018 grant selection process

Please note: The following information applied to the application window that closed on May 3, 2018.

Eligibility: Cross-border teams in Europe

Applications must be sent by teams of at least two media outlets and/or journalists and based in at least two EU member states on a topic of cross-border relevance.

The proposed project must aim to reveal new information. Applications must justify the relevance of the investigation for the public in the target countries or for the broader European public sphere. Investigative teams already in existence or formed for an #IJ4EU project are equally welcome to apply. Ongoing but incomplete investigations are eligible to apply for funds to complete a publishable story.
The programme will consider funding all platforms, including print, broadcast, online media, documentary filmmaking and multi-platform story-telling.

To be eligible for funding, proposed projects must aim to be published (and available in publishable form) by respected news outlets or platforms in at least two EU countries no later than December 31, 2018. Projects may initially be published behind a paywall, but must be made available outside of the paywall after a month.


Projects on the following broad themes will have priority:

  • Corruption, illicit enrichment and financial crime
  • Security, democracy and human rights
  • Environment and climate change

Proposals on other topics will be considered.

Projects must examine an issue that is of relevance to the public in at least two member states or to the wider EU public sphere. While the fund aims to support investigative journalism across the EU, it will give special consideration to projects in two areas:

  • Investigations involving news organizations based outside of the capitals or largest cities of EU member states
  • Investigations in countries where investigative journalism is under pressure, including financial and political pressure

Grant: Up to €450,000 in support for investigative projects

The grant will cover 70 percent of the eligible costs of selected projects. Applicants are responsible for contributing the remaining 30 percent of project costs, which can be covered through other external funding, self-funding or in-kind contributions. The IPI and ECPMF are available to give advice on possible sources of funding and are in consultation with donors to ensure that some of the projects awarded, in particular those submitted by freelance journalists, can be covered in their entirety (100% of the eligible project costs).

Costs eligible to be covered by an IJ4EU grant include all costs necessary for the production of journalistic content, including salary and staff costs, research-related costs and travel costs. Translation costs, including those related to publication of the investigation, are also eligible. The grant does not cover equipment costs.

The amounted requested from IJ4EU must be at least €5,000 and may not exceed €50,000.

Certain applicants to IJ4EU will have the opportunity to raise the additional project funds through a collaboration with the crowdfunding platform Press Start. To be eligible for fundraising through Press Start, projects must involve media outlets or journalists from at least one of the following countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland and Romania. Inclusion on the Press Start platform does not guarantee additional funding, as the latter depends upon the success of the crowdfunding campaign. Press Start reserves the right not to include particular projects, even if those projects are funded under the IJ4EU programme. Applicants must indicate whether they would like to have their project considered for inclusion on the Press Start platform.

The 2018 IJ4EU grant will disburse a maximum of €450,000.

Application requirements

Applications for an IJ4EU grant must be submitted in English and include:

  • Detailed description of the proposed project, highlighting its cross-border relevance and public relevance. It is understood that this will be an outline of what is intended as a result of a hypothesis, tip or leak. Those selecting projects for grants will need as much information as possible to assess the strength and viability of a plan but appreciate that there are aspects of investigative work that cannot be disclosed in advance.
  • Background of the applicants. Individual journalists and filmmakers will be asked to provide the names of two referees that can be contacted by IPI together with a CV/summary of past work. Media outlets will be asked to provide the names of two independent experts who can speak to the media outlet’s journalistic credentials or provide other information that allows IPI to assess those credentials.
  • A research and publication plan, describing the expected timeline for the investigation and the media outlets or platforms in which the project will be published, and the expected publication date (projects must be published no later than December 31, 2018). Individuals, such as freelance journalists or documentary filmmakers, must provide a letter of intent from media outlets or platforms in at least two countries indicating that they are willing to seriously consider publication of the project.
  • A detailed budget that falls between the minimum and maximum grant amounts (see above). As the IJ4EU grant will cover 70 percent of eligible budgets, applicants should indicate the sources of funding for the remaining project budget (e.g., self-funding, in-kind contributions, external funding). The budget does not need to specify in detail items which need to remain confidential during an investigation. Grant recipients will have to provide accounting (without naming sensitive sources) after the project is completed.
  • A risk assessment, highlighting in particular how applicants plan to address any problems emerging from cooperation among journalists working in different countries as well as any other risks emerging from the particular topic proposed.

Applicants should be aware that legal compliance and legal risk management are the responsibility of the reporters and/or the publisher.

Selection process and jury

The deadline for applications is 11:59 pm Vienna time on May 3, 2018. All applications must be submitted in English.

Applications will undergo an initial pre-screening for fulfilling basic application requirements and applicants may be asked during this phase to supply additional information. Applications that do not meet basic requirements will not be forwarded to the jury.

An independent jury will select the projects to be funded. The jury will consist of individuals with a thorough understanding of current journalistic needs in Europe and may be practicing journalists or editors, former journalists, media lawyers, academics or other experts. All jury members will be required to commit to the highest ethical and professional standards. Jury members will act independently from all donors and partners in the project, including IPI, ECPMF and the European Commission, as well as from any other effort to influence their decisions. Any attempt by any donor or partner organization to interfere in the decisions of the jury will be immediately reported to the rest of the jury. Jury members will be required to declare any possible conflicts of interest, and will be asked to recuse themselves on any judgment where such conflicts may interfere with independence or the public perception of independence.

The jury’s decision will take account of, but not necessarily confine itself to, the following criteria:

  • Cross-border relevance
  • Relevance of topic to European and local public
  • Newsworthiness and added value
  • Strength of research and publication plan
  • Expected impact and/or reach of the project
  • Feasibility of project within project timeline and budget
  • Applicants’ experience and journalistic credentials
  • Financial need

Successful applicants will be notified no later than June 15, 2018. Applicants will be required to sign a contract with the International Press Institute in order to receive the funds. An initial pre-funding amount equal to half of the total grant budget will be paid to the grantees upon contract signing. The remaining amount will be disbursed to the grantees upon fulfilment by the grantees of the grant requirements.

The managers of selected projects will be expected to provide regular updates (at least every two months) to IPI on the progress of investigative work. Project managers will be required to immediately communicate any major unexpected delays to IPI.

Projects selected under this grant must be published no later than December 31, 2018. If work is being published by other outlets, projects will be expected to show best efforts to have their work published by the deadline. IPI reserves the right to publish references to and re-publish excerpts of the project on its website and applicants agree to make themselves available to IPI for interviews related to their experience working on the project.