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:
Priorities and activities to be co-financed
Within one or more of the above described objectives, the following activities can be funded:
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
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:
b) if grants > EUR 750 000:
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:
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:
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:
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).
Or the single applicant declares that
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.