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Action grants for limiting dual quality and strengthening consumer organisations in the EU
Deadline: Nov 6, 2019  
CALL EXPIRED

 Fisheries and Food
 Agrifood
 Food Safety
 IT Applications
 Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme
 Consumer Protection
 Business Development
 Public Safety

Comparative tests carried out in several Member States indicated that certain products, which are sold under the same brand and with the same or very similar packaging, have a different composition or characteristics across Member States.

Furthermore, the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), in close collaboration with the industry concerned, developed and implemented a common testing methodology to ensure that investigations on dual quality issues can be based on sound evidence.

In order to complement the activities of the competent national authorities in identifying and countering potentially misleading branding strategies, it is of utmost importance to further develop the capacities of consumer organisations, including in the area of comparative product testing.

The present call for proposals under the pilot project “Limiting dual quality and strengthening consumer organisations in the EU”, therefore, aims at strengthening the role of consumer organisations in relation to testing and comparing basic consumption products, both in the national and cross-border context, and at identifying potentially misleading branding strategies or misleading information provided on the packaging, including in relation to dual quality.

The empowerment of consumer organisations is also a key element of the future Single Market Programme and, at the same time, will facilitate the implementation of the New Deal for Consumers legislative package, once adopted by the co-legislators.

The target group will be consumers and consumer organisations in the European Union.

The specific objectives of the call for proposals are:

  1. To enable consumer organisations: (i) to test and compare basic food and non-food consumption products in relation to the issue of dual quality following sound methodological practices; (ii) to disseminate the test results, both in the national and cross-border context;
  2. To achieve an effective implementation of the ‘Framework for selecting and testing of food products to assess quality related characteristics: EU harmonised testing methodology’, presented by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre on 25 April 2018, at national level;
  3. To develop and implement sound methods for testing and comparing non-food products;
  4. To identify potentially misleading branding strategies or potentially misleading information provided on the packaging, and to create tools for reporting them in all relevant instances, in order to maximise consumer protection;
  5. To exchange best practices and to facilitate cross-border cooperation between consumer organisations and/or competent authorities and relevant private players and to improve consumer organisations’ advocacy policies in the above priority areas.

Priorities and activities to be co-financed

Within one or more of the above described objectives, the following activities can be funded:

  • Training of consumer organisations to develop or enhance testing expertise;
  • Exchange of good practices and knowledge-sharing events and/or seminars;
  • Set up or improvement of networks of consumer organisations involved in testing and/or other measures;
  • Development and rolling out of testing and comparison pilot projects in line with sound methodological principles, such as in particular the common methodology developed by the Joint Research Centre for testing of food products;
  • Awareness raising and/or advocacy activities among consumer organisations, public authorities, stakeholders and/or the public at large;
  • Development of IT tools to report on dual quality products or misleading branding information;
  • Activities to support the implementation of the ‘Framework for selecting and testing of food products to assess quality related characteristics: EU harmonised testing methodology’, presented by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre on 25 April 2018, at national level.

Expected results

  1. Individual consumer organisations reinforce their capacities to test and compare basic food and non-food consumption products in relation to dual quality and are capable to disseminate the test results in line with sound methodological principles;
  2. Consumer organisations are able to identify potentially misleading branding strategies including for example the provision of potentially misleading information on the packaging;
  3. Existing national and cross-border networks of consumer organisations involved in the above areas are reinforced and new ones are set up;
  4. The number and efficiency of national and cross-border partnerships between consumer organisations and other players, including public authorities and private sector, are increased, exchange of best practices between them improved;
  5. More and better information and data also coming from monitoring and reporting activities are made available to better assess past/existing national policies, and design new ones.

 

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

1. Admissibility requirements 

(a)           Applications must be submitted no later than the deadline for submission as indicated on the Funding & Tenders Portal.
(b)           Applications must be submitted in writing using the Electronic Submission System of the Funding & Tenders Portal
(c)           Applications must be submitted using the standard Submission Forms Part A and Part B. They must include all the mandatory information and Annexes.
(d)           Part A and Part B of the application must be drafted in one of the EU official languages (preferably in English), the Annexes may be submitted in one of the EU official languages. 

Failure to comply with these requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.

2. Eligibility criteria 

2.1          List of eligible countries:  Member States of the European Union, including their overseas departments

 

2.2          Eligibility of the lead applicant (i.e. coordinator) and participants (partners)
 

Lead applicants must be consumer organisations duly established in one of the EU Member States; co-applicants must be public entities or non-profit private organisations duly established in one of the EU Member States, or international organisations.

Entities affiliated to a beneficiary and linked third parties are not considered as project participants, unless they are included as partners in the proposal.

2.3          Eligibility of the application

 

(a)           The project shall be transnational;
(b)           The application must involve at least two organisations;
(c)           The EU grant requested cannot be lower than EUR 150 000 and higher than EUR 250 000

 

Note: for applicants and partners established in the UK: please be aware that they must comply with the eligibility criteria for the entire duration of the action for which a grant is awarded. If the UK withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular, that UK applicants and partners continue to be eligible, they will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of Article 34 of the grant agreement.

3.         Exclusion criteria

3.1       Exclusion

The authorising officer shall exclude an applicant and partners (lead applicant and co-applicant(s)) from participating in call for proposals procedures where:

(a)           the applicant is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up procedures, its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, it is in an arrangement with creditors, its business activities are suspended, or it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under EU or national laws or regulations;

(b)           it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the applicable law;

(c)           it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is guilty of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession to which the applicant belongs, or by having engaged in any wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:

(i)         fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of eligibility or selection criteria or in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision;

(ii)        entering into agreement with other applicants with the aim of distorting competition;

(iii)       violating intellectual property rights;

(iv)       attempting to influence the decision-making process of the Commission during the award procedure;

(v)        attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it undue advantages in the award procedure;

(d)           it has been established by a final judgment that the applicant is guilty of any of the following:

(i)         fraud, within the meaning of Article 3 of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;

(ii)        corruption, as defined in Article 4(2) of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 or Article 3 of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 May 1997, or conduct referred to in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA,  or corruption as defined in the applicable law;

(iii)       conduct related to a criminal organisation, as referred to in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;

(iv)       money laundering or terrorist financing within the meaning of Article 1(3), (4) and (5) of Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council;

(v)        terrorist offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, as defined in Articles 1 and 3 of Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, respectively, or inciting, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit such offences, as referred to in Article 4 of that Decision;

(vi)       child labour or other offences concerning trafficking in human beings as referred to in Article 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;

(e)           the applicant has shown significant deficiencies in complying with main obligations in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision financed by the Union's budget, which has led to its early termination or to the application of liquidated damages or other contractual penalties, or which has been discovered following checks, audits or investigations by an authorising officer, OLAF or the Court of Auditors;

(f)            it has been established by a final judgment or final administrative decision that the applicant has committed an irregularity within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95;

(g)           it has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that the applicant has created an entity in a different jurisdiction with the intent to circumvent fiscal, social or any other legal obligations of mandatory application in the jurisdiction of its registered office, central administration or principal place of business;

(h)           it has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that an entity has been created with the intent referred to in point (g);

(i)            for the situations referred to in points (c) to (h) above, the applicant is subject to:

(i)         facts established in the context of audits or investigations carried out by European Public Prosecutor's Office after its establishment, the Court of Auditors, the European Anti-Fraud Office or the internal auditor, or any other check, audit or control performed under the responsibility of an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body;

(ii)        non-final judgments or non-final administrative decisions which may include disciplinary measures taken by the competent supervisory body responsible for the verification of the application of standards of professional ethics;

(iii)       facts referred to in decisions of persons or entities being entrusted with EU budget implementation tasks;

(iv)       information transmitted by Member States implementing Union funds;

(v)        decisions of the Commission relating to the infringement of Union competition law or of a national competent authority relating to the infringement of Union or national competition law; or

(vi)       decisions of exclusion by an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body. 

3.2       Remedial measures

If an applicant declares one of the situations of exclusion listed above (see section 3.1), it should indicate the measures it has taken to remedy the exclusion situation, thus demonstrating its reliability. This may include e.g. technical, organisational and personnel measures to correct the conduct and prevent further occurrence, compensation of damage or payment of fines or of any taxes or social security contributions. The relevant documentary evidence which illustrates the remedial measures taken must be provided in annex to the declaration. This does not apply for situations referred in point (d) of section 3.1.

3.3       Rejection from the call for proposals

A grant shall not be awarded to an applicant who:

(a)           is in an exclusion situation established in accordance with section 3.1;
(b)           has misrepresented the information required as a condition for participating in the procedure or has failed to supply that information;
(c)           was previously involved in the preparation of documents used in the award procedure where this entails a breach of the principle of equal treatment, including distortion of competition, that cannot be remedied otherwise.

Administrative sanctions (exclusion) may be imposed on applicants, if any of the declarations or information provided as a condition for participating in this procedure prove to be false. 

4.         Selection criteria

4.1       Financial capacity

Applicants and partners shall have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the period for which the grant is awarded and to participate in its funding. Organisations participating in several projects shall have sufficient financial capacity to implement multiple projects.
The financial capacity shall consist of a financial viability check performed by the Research Executive Agency (REA) and completed by the Commission.

To demonstrate their financial capacity, applicants must provide:

a)    if grants > EUR 60 000:

  • the profit and loss account as well as the balance sheet for the last 2 financial years for which the accounts were closed;
  • for newly created entities: the business plan might replace the above documents; The financial capacity of recently created organisations which have closed annual accounts for one year only will be assessed based on the documents for the sole closed financial year. Start-up entities which do not have closed accounts at the date of request for financial assessment are requested to submit prospective financial data for one year only.

b)    if grants > EUR 750 000:

  • the profit and loss account as well as the balance sheet for the last 2 financial years for which the accounts were closed;
  • an audit report produced by an approved external auditor certifying the accounts for the last 2 financial years available, where such an audit report is available or whenever a statutory report is required by law. 
    If the audit report is not available AND a statutory report is not required by law, a self-declaration signed by the applicant's authorised representative certifying the validity of its accounts for the last 2 financial years available must be provided.
    In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above thresholds apply to each applicant.

The documents should be uploaded in the Participant Register.
In case of an application submitted on behalf of a consortium, the Commission may verify the financial capacity of every member of the consortium.

The REA will assess the organisation’s financial viability by checking that it:

  • has sufficient liquidity - is able to cover its short-term commitments;
  • is financially autonomous;
  • is solvent - capable of covering its medium and long term commitments;
  • is profitable – generating profits, or at least with self-financing capacity.

The REA will then propose to the Commission a ranking of each organisation’s financial viability based on a qualification: insufficient, weak, acceptable or good.
The methodology used by the REA to assess the financial viability may be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/docs/h2020-funding-guide/grants/applying-for-funding/register-an-organisation/financial-capacity-check_en.htm
The Commission will assess further elements if they are available/relevant such as:

  • Auditor’s findings on previous projects,
  • Weak financial viability results from other projects or sources,
  • Involvement in case of serious administrative errors or fraud,
  • Pending legal procedures or judicial proceedings for serious administrative errors or fraud,
  • Due recovery orders.

If the Commission considers that the financial capacity is insufficient or weak, it may request further guarantees or impose risk mitigation measures (e.g. reduced or no pre-financing, bank guarantee covering the amount of pre-financing payment; replacement of the weak organisation), or reject the application. 
The verification of the financial capacity shall not apply to public bodies and international organisations.

4.2       Operational capacity

Applicants and partners must have the professional competencies, the necessary qualifications to complete the proposed action and shall adhere to EU values based on Article 2 Treaty on European Union, Article 21 EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and general objectives of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (operational capacity). Organisations participating in several projects shall have the operational capacity to implement multiple projects.

Every organisation participating in a project shall adhere to the values stated in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 21 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights and the Article 3 on General objective of the Justice Programme and the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and the respect for human rights, including the rights of the persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society where pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail. 

Applicants must upload as Annexes to the application:

  • the Curriculum Vitae of the applicant and the partners’ key personnel primarily responsible for managing and implementing the action (Annex 1). Where the key personnel is not yet known at the moment of submitting the proposal, a description of the job profile shall be submitted instead of the Curriculum Vitae.
  • the Annual Activity Report for the last available year of the lead applicant, not of the partners (Annex 2). Please note that this document is NOT a financial audit report from the previous years or a balance sheet, but a report highlighting the activities and projects that the applicant has undertaken. Note: Where the lead applicant is a public body (i.e. a body governed by public law, such as public authorities at local, regional or national level, public universities), they do not need to provide their annual activity report.
  • Applicants and partners who will have direct contacts with children under the project must provide their child protection policies. The applicant must upload them in one document as Annex 4.  

5. Declarations on honour referring to points 2, 3 and 4

Applicants must provide the following declarations on honour by ticking appropriate boxes in Part A of the submission form, some of them on behalf and with the consent of the partner(s).

  1. The coordinator declares to have the explicit consent of all partners on their participation and on the content of this proposal. Or the single applicant confirms the content of this proposal.
  2. The information contained in this proposal is correct and complete. None of the actions foreseen in the proposal have started prior to the date of submission of the current application.
  3. The coordinator hereby declares that
  4. he is fully compliant with the exclusion and eligibility criteria set out in the call for proposals/topic, and has the financial and operational capacity to carry out the proposed actions.
  5. each partner has confirmed that they are fully compliant with the exclusion and eligibility criteria set out in the call for proposal/topic, and they have the financial and operational capacity to carry out the proposed action.

Or the single applicant declares that

  • he is fully compliant with the exclusion and eligibility criteria set out in the call for proposal/topic, and has the financial and operational capacity to carry out the proposed actions.

Organisations must also comply with the General Data Protection Regulation that entered into application in May 2018. Please refer to the guidance on the application of the Regulation, particularly on what an organisation must do to comply with EU data protection rules[1].

6. Award criteria

The award criteria are set in order to evaluate the quality of proposals. On the basis of these criteria, grants will be awarded to applications that best address the objectives and priorities of the call for proposals in a cost-effective manner. Synergies and complementarities with other Union instruments and programmes shall be sought and overlaps and duplications with existing activities avoided.

  1.  Every project shall be evaluated on relevance of its objectives to the priorities of the call for proposals, as described under each topic notice on the Funding & Tender Opportunities Portal, relevance of the needs addressed by the project, contribution of the proposal to the priorities, and complementarity with other Union activities, avoiding duplication with projects funded by other Union programmes. Every proposed action has to be based on a reliable needs assessment. Project is expected to include innovative elements.
  2. Quality shall be assessed in terms of the proposed methodology for implementing the activities; the organisation of work, the allocation of resources and the time schedule; the appropriateness of the envisaged activities.

    The evaluation of the project's quality will also asses the strategy for monitoring the project implementation and the identification of risks and the measures to mitigate them; the proposed evaluation, including measures to assess the success of the activities and the indicators to be used; the identification of ethical issues and the proposed action to address them. The project will be assessed on how it integrates gender mainstreaming and if applicable, what child protection policy has been put in place.
  3. The European added value of the project shall be assessed in the light of criteria such as its contribution to the consistent and coherent implementation of Union law and policies and to wide public awareness about the rights deriving from it, its potential to develop mutual trust among Member States and to improve cross-border cooperation, its transnational impact, its contribution to the elaboration and dissemination of best practices or its potential to create practical tools and solutions that address cross-border or Union-wide challenges.
  4. The expected results shall be assessed on whether they are appropriate to achieve the objectives of the action, on what is the long-term impact of these results on the target groups and/or the general public. The project shall include a clear, targeted and appropriate dissemination strategy, which will ensure that the results and/or lessons learnt will reach the target groups and/or the general public. A sustainability of the activities after the EU funding shall be ensured.
  5. Every project shall be evaluated on the financial feasibility of its proposed activities by means of a realistic and reasonable budget. The requested amount shall be appropriate in relation to the scale and type of the activities, to the expected results and to the size of the partnership.

As a result of the evaluation carried out against the above award criteria the proposals will be ranked according to the points attained. The list of awarded projects will be established based on the amount of budget available.

Proposals not attaining a score of 18 points for the relevance criterion will not be considered for the award of a grant. Proposals not attaining an overall score of 70 points will not be considered for the award of a grant even in case the available budget is not consumed fully.

 

7. Timetable

The European Commission shall inform all applicants of the result of the evaluation of their proposals within six months of the deadline for submitting applications.

Grant agreements shall be signed within three months of the date of information to the successful applicants.

8. Budget available

The indicative maximum amount earmarked for the co-financing of projects under this call for proposals is estimated at EUR 1 260 000.

The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.

9. Duration of the projects

The initial duration of the projects should not exceed 12 months.

No grant may be awarded retrospectively for actions already completed.

A grant may be awarded for an action which has already begun only where the applicant can demonstrate the need to start the action before the grant agreement is signed. In such cases, costs eligible for financing may not have been incurred prior to the date of submission of the grant application.

10. Other practical information

10.1 Co-financing rate

The EU grant may not exceed 90% of the eligible costs. The applicant must ensure that the resources which are necessary to carry out the action are not entirely provided by the EU grant.

Co-financing of the action may take the form of:

  • the beneficiary's own resources,
  • income generated by the action,
  • financial contributions from third parties.

10.2 Flat rate for indirect costs

The flat rate for indirect costs is set at 7%. However, indirect costs may not be claimed at the final payment stage, by beneficiaries/co-beneficiaries receiving operating grants from the EU budget.

10.3 Financial support to third parties

Projects through which the beneficiaries use the budget of the project to award grants to other organisations under their own procedures and authority (financial support to third parties) are not allowed.

10.4 Multi-beneficiary projects

Based on our experience with multi-beneficiary agreements, and to support our aim to co-finance efficient, practical and targeted projects, we recommend limiting the size of the proposed partnerships to 6 organisations (applicant and partners).

11. Financial provisions

Information related to the financial conditions in relation to this topic is available in the Annex on financial provisions (see below). The Annex on financial provisions forms an integral part of this call for proposals and the topic conditions the conditions for participation and funding expressed therein apply in full to this call.

 



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