A European project is a joint effort between several organizations from different European countries (although in some cases it is an individual initiative) in order to achieve a specific target based on common experiences and needs, through planning and sharing responsibilities agreed in advance and an overall budget, funded in part by the European Union.
This co-financing means that the European Union considers that the success of the project has a European added value, i.e. contributes to the objectives of the Union. European projects are drafted from calls published by the European Union, so applicants must submit a project proposal subject to the conditions stated in the guidelines of the call.
European projects are drafted from calls published by the European Union. These calls are part of European programmes, which are instruments by which the European Commission provides funding for various initiatives according to the strategy and the objectives set for this particular programme, which was launched to support the development of European strategic objectives and policies.
Programmes may cover many themes and span several lines of action to encompass certain objectives. To achieve these objectives various calls are published to invite institutions of different kinds to submit project proposals. Each call specifies the requirements for participation, the objectives to be pursued and the funding to be expected. The ultimate goal of the EU is, therefore, to ensure that their policies and strategies are applied more directly and quickly throughout the European territory and to build the Union through cooperation between territories.
The main requirement is to be determined to participate and predisposed to commit resources, especially time, to activities linked to the participation in European calls, whose greatest benefits will not be obtained in the near term. On the other hand, you must be aware that participation in a European project involves cooperation with other partners, maintaining a collaborative and teamwork attitude, avoiding competition. All partners pursue the same goals and want to find the most effective way to cooperate.
Projects are usually selected through a competitive process among all proposals submitted. Each call applies an evaluation scale and a number of experts examine the proposals submitted. Projects more suited to the requirements of the call (as stated in its text), making more efficient use of the resources they need and also contributing further to the policies and objectives set by the European Union, will have more chances of being financed.
It is also important to note that the European Union has put the focus on innovation. This is applicable to all sectors and initiatives and therefore all proposal must be innovative. The European Union will hardly fund proposals not considered as such.
It is not necessary for an organization to provide the initial idea in order to participate in a project. There are always project ideas that fit with your organizational strategy and that can be interesting. You can be included in a consortium for a project that is under preparation and even have the opportunity to enter an already running project. And EuroVértice can also help you in these cases!
European calls are competitive, so only the best rated are chosen. The success rate typically varies between 10 and 40%. Do not be mislead by this figure: not all proposals have the same quality or correspond to the call. Working on these aspects, preferably with the help of experts, significantly increases the chances of success.
Between 3 and 9 months could pass from the closing of the call to the approval announcement. Nevertheless, the EU is committed to reduce these schedules, setting them much shorter (about 14 weeks) for new programmes.
A project under a European programme usually spans on average 2 to 3 years, although this depends on the particular call, and can vary from 12 months to 5 years. Projects must pursue objectives in the medium and long term.
The average budget of a project seeking European funding is between 1.5 and 2 million Euros, although the amount varies widely depending on the calls. For example, more complex projects may have a budget of up to 5 million, while the simplest not reach one million. It is important to remember that the vast majority of projects are implemented within a partnership, so that these quantities refer to the total budget for all partners. The budget is then divided among the partners with regard to the responsibilities and tasks to be developed.
The eligible costs are those directly related to project implementation, thus necessary for its development. In contrast, the running costs of the participating organizations are not normally considered eligible, meaning that what is to be financed is the added effort that an organization has to provide to develop the project.
When calculating the expected funding of a project, it is important to understand the concept of “eligible expenditure”, which is the part of a specific expense that is considered to calculate how much financing is received.
Entities that do not recover VAT on their activities, or do not recover it in the specific framework of a European project, may include VAT as an eligible expense in their budget (i.e. subject to funding).
Non-refundable grants are the main form of funding provided by European calls, including, in most cases, advances for the beginning of activities.
Depending on the call to which the proposal is submitted and the legal status of the organization, between 50 and 75% of implementation costs can be co-financed. Some programs can reach up to 90%, while others will not reach 20%.
The EU is funding a portion of the project costs. The rest should be assumed by each partner within its individual budget. This does not necessarily mean a contribution in cash corresponding to that amount because, for example, staff expenses committed to the project are considered part of the budget. This offers an easier way to finance the project, as an additional contribution to its running costs is not required from the organization.
European programmes are designed to promote cooperation between European institutions in different countries. Thus, although in some cases individual projects are possible, a project has usually to be built from a transnational consortium. There is generally a minimum number of partners, say 2 or 3 from different countries, but depending on the call a different number of partners can be mandatory or advisable, even exceeding 20 of them in very complex or ambitious projects, or knowledge network projects.
Once the project is approved, a grant and partnership agreement must be signed. Arrangements can vary, but there are two basic models:
- A signed contract between the European Union and the project leader, who in turn signs individual contracts with each partner.
- A partnership agreement that includes the European Union, on the one hand, and all project partners on the other.
Thorough information about the project, deadlines, obligations and rights of all parties is included in the grant contracts, which become reference documents for the duration of the project.
Participation in a European project involves a series of rights and obligations. Obligations relate mainly to the development of the tasks included in the project in a timely and appropriate manner according to the obligations of the programme. It is also necessary to adequately publicize the project and the European co-financing and provide technical, financial and administrative justification for the activities undertaken. It is also required from partners to collaborate in project management and with other peers.
Are aspects of intellectual property developed prior to the project regulated? What about results obtained?
The European Union attaches great importance to intellectual property issues, with the goal of not limiting collaboration between European institutions by reluctance or fears about these issues and properly exploiting the project’s results. In this sense there is an extensive regulation to protect the intellectual property rights of the partners involved, both prior and acquired thanks to the project. The usual practice is to sign an agreement on intellectual property before the project begins. This agreement includes and protects the background each partner brings to the project, specifying which terms are used for the project and the rights and conditions of access. In addition it also defines the distribution of property rights and exploitation of results. The aim is that, before the start of the project (and therefore prior to collaboration between partners), all these aspects are clear and all partners are fully assured before starting their activities.
In research, development or innovation projects based on previous knowledge or experience of the partners, these must be used in the project. The extent and manner of use depends on the project, as indicated in the agreement on intellectual property signed at its beginning. Moreover, the degree of involvement and contribution to the project will delimit, as agreed between the partners, intellectual property or rights of exploitation of its results.
Force majeure is considered a justifiable reason for project withdrawal, and not necessarily incurs financial penalty. These force majeure reasons are related to the inability of the partner to further develop activities for which the grant agreement define an obligation and which are irreversible (natural disasters, bankruptcy…). These circumstances are well defined and are considered exceptional.
One of the strengths of EuroVértice is its capability to support project management. EuroVértice has extensive and successful experience in the management and monitoring of projects, supporting clients from the preparation of the proposal until the end of the administrative formalities, offering a comprehensive project management:
- Administrative and financial management.
- Development of the communication plan, its actions and any other related activity.
- Project monitoring, essential for the proper development of its activities. EuroVértice continuous monitoring comprises evaluation of the progress, preparation of contingency plans and response to deviations from the plan.
This involvement in management is based on the collaboration between the client and EuroVértice, which form a working group to cover all the project needs.
The cost of services provided by EuroVértice depends on several factors, especially the complexity of the proposal and the involvement of the customer during its development. Fees are individually fixed depending and these and other factors.