1. INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND
1.1. Programme/Legal base
This call for proposals is published under Regulation (EU) No 1296/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on a European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation ("EaSI") and amending Decision No 283/2010/EU establishing a European Progress Microfinance Facility for employment and social inclusion1.
The European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation "EaSI" 2014-20202 is a European-level financing instrument managed directly by the European Commission to contribute to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy, by providing financial support for the Union's objectives in terms of (i) promoting a high level of quality and sustainable employment, (ii) guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, (iii) combating social exclusion and poverty, and (iv) improving working conditions.
The EaSI Programme shall, in all its axes and actions, aim to:
− pay particular attention to vulnerable groups, such as young people;
− promote equality between women and men;
− combatdiscriminationbasedonsex,racialorethnicorigin,religionorbelief,disability, age or sexual orientation;
− promoteahigh-levelofqualityandsustainableemployment,guaranteeadequateand decent social protection, combat long-term unemployment and fight against poverty and social exclusion.
Hence, in designing, implementing and reporting on the activity, beneficiaries/contractors must address the issues noted above and will be required to provide detail, in the final activity report on the steps and achievements made towards addressing those aims.
1.2. Main Purposes
This call for proposals aims at providing operating grants for 2017 under the Framework Partnership Agreements (FPA) concluded for the period 2014-2017 to provide for long-term cooperation between the European Commission and EU-level NGO networks.
The FPAs were signed at the end of the 2013 following the call for proposals VP/2013/006 for framework partners. They set out the framework conditions governing potential operating grants and encompass a quadrennial strategic action plan proposed by the EU-level NGO networks and accepted by the European Commission.
FPAs were concluded with:
− European level networks active in the promotion of social inclusion and poverty reduction, or
− Europeanlevelnetworksactiveinthepromotionofaccesstofinance(microfinance and social enterprise finance).
Regarding the description of the policy context, the definition of priorities and potential specific agreements for operating grants, this call refers to these two groups of networks separately.
1.3. Policy and economic background
1.3.1. European level networks active in the promotion of social inclusion and poverty reduction
As outlined in the agenda for "Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change"3 and confirmed by the 2016 Annual Growth Survey (AGS)4, modernising social protection systems and supporting the development of adequate social protection schemes throughout Europe will be among the key initiatives in the area of social policies in the next years. Social protection systems should be modernised to efficiently respond to risks throughout the lifecycle while remaining fiscally sustainable in view of the upcoming demographic challenges. Focus will also have to be put on the monitoring of social progress, the impact of reforms over time and the reinforcement of the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), as clearly established in the European Pillar of Social Rights initiative.
The Europe 2020 Strategy set ambitious goals in order to cope with the long term challenges of globalisation, resource efficiency, demographic and technological change. With its target on reducing poverty and social exclusion, it aims at lifting at least 20 million people out of poverty and social exclusion by 2020. The economic crisis triggered an ongoing social crisis and slow recovery is hampering efforts to reduce the high levels of unemployment. The EU and its Member States must deal with a range of long-term trends affecting strongly the employment and social situation of many European citizens.
The primary responsibility for delivering on the Europe 2020 targets is in the hands of the Member States; however, in the field of social protection and social investment, the EU supports and complements the activities of the Member States in the form of policy guidance, knowledge sharing, capacity building, expertise, data and analysis, and financial support.
The European Semester is the main policy process to coordinate European and national policies and efforts to reach the Europe 2020 targets. It allows for integrated monitoring of progress on the 2020 targets and has offered both EU-wide and country-by-country guidance to Member States on priority reforms, giving Country Specific Recommendations (CSR). Introducing employment and social indicators into the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) allows for a better understanding of the labour market, social developments and risks, and increases its relevance in the Semester process. The reinforced link between the European Semester and the EU Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in the funding period 2014-2020 will also help Member States in addressing major employment and social problems.
Involvement and close association of parliaments, social partners and representatives of civil society is essential to ensure ownership and facilitate implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy, ESIF and the Social Investment Package (SIP). In particular, the social NGO networks have the potential to support active inclusion and modernisation of social protection at national and local level while also shedding light on social developments and policy challenges in the different countries. Member States are also invited to involve national parliaments, social partners and representatives of civil society more strongly in the preparation of the National Reform Programmes (NRP), the application of CSR and the implementation of ESIF .
Boosting jobs, growth and investment is one of the main priorities of the Juncker Commission. In line with this goal, entrepreneurship and self-employment can be powerful tools in getting Europe growing again and increase the number of jobs without creating new debt. Access to finance, however, remains one of the most important problems faced by business starters across Europe, in particular from vulnerable groups.
Social enterprises devote their activities and reinvest their surpluses to achieving a wider social or community objective either in their members' or wider interest. As such, their activities may have a significant impact on achieving the above mentioned targets; however, social enterprises also face numerous obstacles in accessing finance.
The Commission is intensifying its efforts to promote access to microfinance and as such is responsible for multiple related activities including the provision of funding under the EaSI Financial Instruments and the EaSI Technical Assistance to microcredit providers. The Code of Good Conduct developed by the Commission aims at setting out good practice guidelines to raise the quality standards of the European microfinance sector.
The Social Business Initiative (SBI) provides an EU level action plan to stimulate the creation, development and growth of social enterprises, by creating an ecosystem conducive to developing social businesses and to facilitating their access to funding. Member States and regions are asked to increase their efforts to promote social enterprises on the basis of an integrated strategy – and make full use of the European Social Fund (ESF) in implementing it. Social enterprises can also benefit from improved access to funding through the EaSI Financial Instruments.
2. OBJECTIVES – PRIORITIES – TYPES OF ACTIONS – EXPECTED RESULTS
2.1.Objectives – Priorities
The 2017 operating grants will be awarded under the Framework Partnership Agreement 2014- 2017 (FPA) signed between the European Commission and each EU-level network at the end of 2013. In the quadrennial strategic plan linked to the FPA four main priorities for actions were identified.
This section describes the main activities which can be supported under the operating grant 2017 in relation to the priorities defined in the FPA. The activities listed in this section serve as example and should not prevent the applicant from presenting others in line with the priorities and the quadrennial strategic plan linked to the FPA.
The proposed work programme can develop further the quadrennial strategic plan and describe its implementation in more details, but should not contradict it. Minor adaptations due to changes in the overall context or unforeseeable new organisational developments are possible and should be marked.
• Area 1: European level networks active in promoting social inclusion and poverty reduction
− Priority 1 of the FPA: Support the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of initiatives undertaken towards the policy objectives of Europe 2020 Strategy, the Social Investment Package5 and the Political Guidelines of the new Commission6. Support the main EU driven processes such as the Open Method of Coordination (OMC)7 on social protection and social inclusion and the European semester.
This priority is strictly linked to the policy context described in section 1.3. The activities shall aim at advancing the policy debate and the support of structural reforms in the area of social protection and investment, monitoring and evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of existing policies and practices, supporting the development and the dissemination of innovative policies and helping their implementation. In this year's projects particular attention should be paid to the policy orientations inscribed in the European Pillar of Social Rights initiative.
Especially with regard to the Europe 2020 targets, activities could help to enrich the knowledge about current social trends and policy developments at national, regional and local level, such as the fight against poverty and social exclusion in Member States. They could also focus on capacity-building activities for the organisations working in this field, promote exploratory and innovative projects and support the dissemination of policy guidance to decision-makers and practitioners at different levels (national, regional, local).
This can mainly be done through policy analyses and the development of policy recommendations, studies and mapping exercises, exchange of good practices, peer learning activities, seminars, conferences or other events at EU, national, regional or local level.
− Priority 2 of the FPA: Support stakeholders' involvement in the policy process: activities should in particular directly relate to the support of national member organisations in their involvement in the implementation of the main political EU-driven processes. In addition, EU-level networks should encourage cooperation with other civil society organisations and social partners' organisations both at EU, national, regional and local levels.
This priority is closely linked to priority 1, but focusses more on developing tools and mechanisms at national, regional and local level to support and to enable member organisations in getting involved in European policy processes, especially the European Semester, the Social Pillar and SIP implementation. Creating and supporting opportunities for cooperation among national members and with relevant stakeholders could be an efficient vehicle for supporting member organisations.
This can mainly be done through training activities and seminars for member organisations, regular information on EU social policy issues (e.g. newsletters and mailings), mutual learning activities, and exchange of good practices.
− Priority 3 of the FPA: Strengthen the capacity of EU-level NGO networks and their national members, to support implementation of EU priorities as indicated under point III (Policy Context) including their knowledge of relevant EU matters.
In comparison to priority 2, this priority refers to develop the capacity of the networks and their member organisations in supporting the implementation of EU policies and to improve their knowledge on the use of the various European funds available to support this objective (i.e., ESF, FEAD, EFSI). This also includes improving the sustainability of their work, their organisational functioning and their cooperation mechanisms.
This can mainly be done through organising training for staff on EU policy initiatives and their possible translation into national, regional policies. It also includes implementing measures to improve managerial capacities as well as coverage.
− Priority 4 of the FPA: Providing data and strong evidence base on policy developments and trends as well as collection of relevant information about citizens' concerns and good practices in the social policy field in the Member States, so as to contribute to better policy making.
This priority refers to one of the main added-value NGO networks can provide in EU policy processes: providing data and information from different levels and sectors of European societies. This includes also information on the impact of different policies on citizens and their social situation.
This can mainly be done through collecting relevant information on citizens' situation and concerns in relation to social inclusion and poverty at national and local level through studies, survey, research development of statistics and indicators. Monitor and assess the implementation of relevant legislation, policies and practices.
Area 2: European level networks active in the promotion of access to finance (microfinance or social enterprise finance)
− Priority 1 of the FPA: Support the Commission in its outreach activities at EU, national and local level with the aim of ensuring the implementation of European policies in the relevant area (e.g. Programme for Employment and Social Innovation, European Social Fund, Social Business Initiative etc.).
In line with the policy context identified in section 1.3., a clear link between multiple activities of the Commission in the field of access to finance shall be envisaged. In particular, the focus should be on the Commission activities in building microfinance and social investment markets in Europe (including through EaSI financial instruments and via the call on Supporting the demand and supply side of the market for social enterprise finance) and any follow-up action thereof.
The activities of the network may focus on organisation of meetings and events with a number of relevant stakeholders as well as include other communication means such as newsletters, web pages or a helpdesk for members. Cooperation with other relevant networks should also be of interest to networks. This is not an exhaustive list of possible activities: networks are invited to propose other activities as well.
− Priority 2 of the FPA: Reinforcing the capacity of the network's members, including through offering a platform for the exchange of good practices in the relevant field, and raising awareness about relevant EU policies.
Working with its members in an efficient and effective manner represents an important task for a network.
In order to achieve this, the network is expected, among other things, to organise exchange visits, workshops and peer-to-peer learning activities. In 2017, this could include activities promoting the use of the full potential of social enterprises in addressing the challenges of the refugee crisis.
Growth of membership will be considered as important in enabling the network to deliver on these activities.
- Priority 3 of the FPA: Voicing the concerns and expectations of organisations facilitating access to finance to (potential) entrepreneurs from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups / social enterprises.
Funded networks represent a platform for the Commission to be able to better understand and exchange information with the sector. That is why communicating with its members is important for the networks. In 2017, communication with member organisations may also focus on making a preliminary assessment of the impact that the EaSI financial instruments have on the microfinance and social finance markets, in order to identify concerns and expectations for the next programming period.
Annual conferences, hearings and similar events proved to be valuable for networks in liaising with its member base and other stakeholders. Providing feedback to the Commission is an essential part of this priority.
Priority 4 of the FPA: Providing data / research on developments in the field and on priority topics.
Given the lack of data and information in the areas of microfinance / social enterprise finance, funded networks remain an important source for the Commission as well as for the whole sector.
Their activities can focus on broad overviews as well as on specific niche topics related to the field. In the field of microfinance, the following areas are of particular relevance for 2017:
* migrant entrepreneurship, in particular in the context of the current refugee crisis
* the role of microfinance start-ups with high job creation potential
* the role of microfinance for start-ups and their impact on employability and skills
* microfinance and the job creation potential of green jobs and circular economy
In the area of social entrepreneurship, the following topics are priorities for 2017:
* the role of social enterprises in facilitating the integration of refugees/migrants into European societies/labour markets
* social entrepreneurship as an option for young people * scaling the impact of social enterprises
* employability, skills and the job creation potential of the circular and sharing economy are priority topics for 2017.
Networks are encouraged to develop their activities in these areas, but may also suggest additional topics that are identified as important.
2.2 Description of the activities to be funded / Type of actions
The types of activities which may be funded under this call for proposals include:
− capacity-building actions;
− awareness and dissemination actions;
− studies, analyses, mapping projects;
− research activities;
− training activities;
2.3. Expected outputs/results (for areas 1 and 2)
The European Commission supports an output oriented approach, looking at the quality, relevance and sustainability of outputs reached.
Applicants are therefore invited to:
− clearlyidentifythemainoutputsandtheircontributiontoEuropeanpolicyprocesses, as well as to demonstrate the added value of their activities and their concrete contribution to policy development in the thematic areas identified by this call;
− describe their monitoring system and the way in which they use monitoring and external evaluations in order to assess, on the one hand, their overall performance and, on the other hand, the relevance and impact of their outputs.
The Commission, with the support of an external contractor, will monitor regularly the EaSI Programme. Therefore, beneficiaries will have to transmit qualitative and quantitative monitoring data on the results of the activities. This will include the extent to which the principle of equality between women and men has been applied, as well as how anti- discrimination considerations, including accessibility issues, have been addressed through these activities. Related templates are attached to this call or will be provided in due time.
Consequently, in setting up the action, beneficiaries must foresee the necessary funding for monitoring and reporting to the Commission.
As the monitoring of the EaSI Programme involves the collection and further processing of personal data, Regulation (EC) 45/2001, of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community Institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data8, is applicable.
Publication of the call
Deadline for submitting proposals
16 September 2016
Evaluation period (indicative)
Information to applicants (indicative)
Signature of the grant agreement (indicative)
End of January 201710
Starting date of the action (indicative)
01 January 2017
3.1. Starting date and duration of the projects
The actual starting date of the action will be either the first day following the date when the last of the two parties signs the grant agreement, or the first day of the month following the date when the last of the two parties sign, or a date agreed upon between the parties.
Applicants should note that if their project is selected, they may receive the grant agreement after the start date of the action that they have indicatively set in the application form. However, the start date cannot be earlier than the date of submission of the grant application nor be earlier than the start of the applicant's financial year 2017.
Any expenditure incurred before the signature of the Grant Agreement will be at the applicant’s risk. No expenditure can be incurred before the deadline for submission or the start of the applicant's financial year.
The duration of the project should coincide with the budgetary (financial) year of the applicant.
4. AVAILABLE BUDGET AND CO-FINANCING RATE
4.1. Available Budget
The total budget earmarked for the EU co-financing of projects under this call is estimated at:
The EU grant requested should indicatively be between EUR 100.000 and EUR 1.000.000. The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.
4.2. Co-financing rate
Under this call for proposals, the EU grant may not exceed 80% of the total eligible costs of the work programme. The applicants must guarantee the co-financing of the remaining amount which should be covered by the applicants' own resources or from sources other than the European Union budget.
5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
Applications must be sent no later than the deadline for submission referred to in section 3(b).
They must be submitted using the electronic submission system available at https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/swim and by sending a signed, printed version of the application form and its annexes by post or courier service (see section 12).
Failure to comply with the above requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.
Applicants are encouraged to submit their project proposal in English in order to facilitate the treatment of the proposals and speed up the evaluation process. It should be noted, however, that proposals in all official languages of the EU will be accepted. In this case, applications should be accompanied by an executive summary in English (checklist point 3).
6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
6.1. Eligibility of the applicants
To be eligible, applicants must fulfil the following criteria:
− proposals can only be submitted by EU-level NGO networks active in the promotion of social inclusion and poverty reduction or active in the promotion of microfinance or social enterprise finance who have signed a Framework Partnership Agreement covering the period 2014-2017 following the call for proposals VP/2013/006 published in 2013.
Only applications which meet the above eligibility criterion will be further processed.
6.2. Eligible activities
a) Geographical Location
To be eligible, actions must be fully carried out in eligible participating EaSI countries. b) Types of activities
The grant will finance inter alia the activities indicated in section 2.2
6.3. Ineligible activities
The following types of activities are not eligible for EU funding:
7. EXCLUSION CRITERIA
Applicants must sign a declaration on their honour certifying that they are not in one of the situations referred to in article 106(1) and 107.1(b) and (c) of the Financial Regulation13 concerning exclusion and rejection from the procedure respectively, using the relevant form attached to the application form available at:
8. AWARD CRITERIA
The proposals which fulfil the eligibility and selection criteria described above will be assessed
according to the following award criteria:
− CoherenceoftheannualworkprogrammewiththeFPA - Maximum 10 points
− Extent to which the proposed programme takes into consideration the objectives laid down in the PROGRESS axis under EaSI and respond to actual needs relevant for the period concerned - Maximum 20 points
− Added value and relevance at European level of the programme proposed as well its dissemination and availability to all countries involved in the EaSI Programme - Maximum 20 points
− Clarity and feasibility of the programme and each of its modules, including timetable and methodology and in particular its capacity to achieve the planned objectives - Maximum 20 points
− Quality, feasibility and efficiency of the work organisation points including a clear description of the allocation of human resources in relation to the individual tasks or activities - Maximum 15
− Financialqualityoftheprogramme,includingtheexistence of a clear, detailed, and reasonable budget which is coherent with the actions proposed - Maximum 15 points
TOTAL - Maximum 100 points
Applications will be ranked according to the total score awarded. Taking into account the available budget, the proposals with the highest total scores will be recommended for award, on condition that the total score reaches at least 70% of the maximum possible mark.
9. LEGAL COMMITMENTS
In the event of a grant being awarded by the Commission, a grant agreement, drawn up in euro
and detailing the conditions and level of funding, will be sent to the beneficiary.
The two copies of the original agreement must be signed by the beneficiary and returned to the Commission immediately. The Commission will sign it last.
The grant agreement may include corrections and deletion of ineligible costs or activities made by the Commission – therefore the applicant should carefully read the whole agreement and the budget and work programme sections in particular, before signing and returning the copies to the Commission.
A model Grant Agreement is published on the Europa website under the relevant call: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=629&langId=en.
Please note that the award of a grant does not establish an entitlement for subsequent years.
9.1. Sources of Funding
In addition to the obligations with regard to visibility of Union funding foreseen in the General conditions to the grant agreement, beneficiaries must acknowledge in writing that the project has been supported by the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation ("EaSI") 2014-2020. In practice, all products (publications, brochures, press releases, videos, CDs, posters and banners, and especially those associated with conferences, seminars and information campaigns) must state the following:
This (publication, conference, video, xxx) has received financial support from the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation "EaSI" (2014-2020). For further information please consult: http://ec.europa.eu/social/easi
The European emblem must appear on every publication or other material produced. Please see: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/communication/services/visual_identity/pdf/use-emblem_en.pdf Every publication must include the following:
The information contained in this publication does not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Commission.
10. FINANCIAL PROVISION
Details on financial provisions are laid out in the Financial Guidelines for Applicants and the model Grant Agreement, both published on the Europa website under the relevant call: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=629&langId=en
11. PROCEDURE FOR THE SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS
The procedure to submit proposals electronically is explained in point 14 of the "Financial
Guidelines for Applicants". Before starting, please read carefully the SWIM user manual:
Once the application form is filled in, applicants must submit it both electronically and in hard copy, before the deadline set in section 3.b above.
The SWIM electronic application form is available until midnight on the day of the submission deadline. Since the applicants must first submit the form electronically, and then print, sign and send it by post service or hand delivery by the submission deadline, it is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the appropriate postal or courier services are locally available on the day of the deadline.
The hard copy of the proposal must be duly signed and sent in three copies (one marked “original” and two marked “copy”), including all documents listed in section 14.2, by the deadline (the postmark or the express courier receipt date serving as proof) to the following address:
Call for proposals VP/2016/012 – DG EMPL.C3 J-27 – 02/241
B-1049 Bruxelles - BELGIUM
The reference of the call for proposals and relevant area must be indicated on the envelope.
Please send your proposal by registered post, express courier service or by hand delivery only. Proof of posting or express courier receipt should be kept as it could be requested by the European Commission in cases of doubt regarding the date of submission.
Hand-delivered proposals must be received by the European Commission before 4 p.m. on the date of the deadline for submission as indicated in section 3(b) at the following address:
Service central de réception du courrier Call for proposals VP/2016/012 – DG EMPL.C3 Avenue du Bourget, 1
At that time the European Commission's Mail Service will provide a signed receipt which should be conserved as proof of delivery.
If an applicant submits more than one proposal, each proposal must be submitted separately.
Additional documents sent by post, by fax or by electronic mail after the deadlines mentioned above will not be considered for evaluation unless requested by the European Commission.
The applicant's attention is also drawn to the fact that incomplete or unsigned forms, hand- written forms and those sent by fax or e-mail will not be taken into consideration.
The information contained in the present call document together with the Financial Guidelines for Applicants provides all the information you require to submit an application. Please read it carefully before doing so, paying particular attention to the priorities of the present call.
All enquiries must be made by e-mail only to: email@example.com
For any technical problems please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions may be sent by to the above address no later than 10 days before the deadline for the submission of proposals.
The Commission has no obligation to provide clarifications to questions received after this date.
Replies will be given no later than 5 days before the deadline for submission of proposals. To ensure equal treatment of applicants, the Commission will not give a prior opinion on the eligibility of applicants, or affiliated entity(ies), an action or specific activities.
No individual replies to questions will be sent but all questions together with the answers and other important notices will be published (FAQ in EN) at regular intervals on the Europa website under the relevant call: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=629&langId=en.
The Commission may, on its own initiative, inform interested parties of any error, inaccuracy, omission or clerical error in the text of the call for proposals on the mentioned Europa website. It is therefore advisable to consult the above mentioned website regularly in order to be informed of the questions and answers published.
No modification to the proposal is allowed once the deadline for submission has elapsed. If there is a need to clarify certain aspects or to correct clerical mistakes, the Commission may contact the applicant for this purpose during the evaluation process.
Applicants will be informed in writing about the results of the selection process. Unsuccessful applicants will be informed of the reasons for rejection. No information regarding the award procedure will be disclosed until the notification letters have been sent to the beneficiaries.
13. INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE PRESENTATION OF THE APPLICATION AND REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
13.1. Instructions for the presentation of the application
The annual work programme must be written using the template available in SWIM. All the information related to the annual work programme must be presented in one single document.
In case of subcontracting any tasks comprising part of the action (see the Financial Guidelines), the description of the action must provide details on the tasks to be subcontracted and the reasons for doing so and these tasks must be clearly identified in the budget.
13.2. Required documents
The table in annex includes the documents that must be provided on submission of the proposal. It also indicates where originals are required. We recommend that applicants use the table as a checklist in order to verify compliance with all requirements.
While some information must be supplied using the templates available in the SWIM, other documents may need to be completed and/or attached electronically, usually either administrative documents or free format text descriptions. The SWIM application indicates in each section where SWIM templates should be used as well as which and where free format documents can be uploaded electronically.
Regarding the compilation of the application file, it is recommended to:
1) follow the order of documents as listed in the checklist (and attach a ticked checklist as below to the proposal);
2) print the documents double-sided;
3) use 2-hole folders (do not bind or glue; stapling is acceptable).
( -- TRUNCATED further details in the public link of the call)