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Call for proposals HT.5115: Training of national judges in EU Competition Law

  - 53 days Deadline: 16 Apr 2018

 Justice
 Education and Training
 Higher Education
 European Law
 Corporate Law
 Trade Law
 International Law
 Civil Law



1. Introduction

On 17 October 2013 the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EU) No 1382/20131 establishing a Justice Programme for the period 2014-2020. One of its specific objectives is to support and promote judicial training, including language training on legal terminology, with a view to fostering a common legal and judicial culture.

On 13 March 2017, the European Commission adopted the work programme for 2017 and the financing for the implementation of the Justice Programme2 which, provides for the publication of a call for proposals to support national or transnational projects on judicial training in competition law. Thus, grants may be awarded to support and promote judicial training, including language training on legal terminology, with a view to foster a common legal and judicial culture of competition law.

The measures planned for the training of national judges and judicial cooperation will be referred to hereafter as the 'projects'.

Bodies which introduce proposals are referred to hereafter as the 'applicants'. Successful applicants which have been allocated a grant are described as the 'beneficiaries'.

 

2. Objectives

The objective of this call for proposals is to co-finance projects aiming to train national judges in the context of enforcing European competition rules. This includes public and private enforcement of both the Antitrust rules and the State aid rules. The final aim is to ensure a coherent and consistent application of EU competition law by national courts.

These objectives can best be achieved through projects which specifically focus on the role of national judges in the application of EU competition law, their particular needs and work environments and pre-existing training and knowledge.

 

2.1  Scope and expected results

Projects must meet the above-mentioned objectives and clearly demonstrate their EU added- value. The European added value of actions, including that of small-scale and national actions, shall be assessed in the light of criteria such as their contribution to the consistent and coherent implementation of Union law and to wide public awareness about the rights deriving from it, their potential to develop mutual trust among Member States and to improve cross-border cooperation, their transnational impact, their contribution to the elaboration and dissemination of best practices or their potential to create practical tools and solutions that address cross-border or Union-wide challenges.

Contents of the projects should be tailored to the needs of the target audience. Projects should be designed using practice-oriented learning methods and/or innovative learning methods (including case studies, blended learning, and simulations). The results of the projects should have a broad and long-lasting effect.

2.2  Target audience

The target audience must consist of national judges dealing with competition cases, as defined in section 2 "Objectives", at national level. This also includes prosecutors, apprentice national judges, and the staff of the judges’ offices or of national courts of eligible countries3.

The target audience as defined above is hereafter referred to as 'national judges'.

Judges from countries not listed as eligible countries and persons other than national judges may participate in the projects, provided that a significant proportion of the audience consists of national judges. However, the costs linked to their participation cannot be included as eligible costs.

 

3. Timetable and Budget available

a) Publication of the call
06/02/2018

b)Deadline for submitting applications
16/04/2018

c) Evaluation period
April - July 2018

d)Information to applicants
August 2018

e)Review of budgets
September - October 2018

f) Signature of grant agreement and start date of the action
November - December 2018

g) Info day in Brussels for successful applicants
November / December 2018

 

The total budget earmarked for co-financing projects submitted under this call is EUR 800.000. The maximum grant that can be awarded is EUR 400.000 and the minimum is EUR 50.000. The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.

 

4. Subject-matter of the Projects

Projects should address in a tailored way the national judges, based on pre-identified training needs.

Training projects should ensure the active participation of national judges in their training activities, avoiding therefore mere lecturing.

The environment in which participative training for national judges takes place must be made sufficiently secure to enable participants to freely exchange views and experiences and to learn from one another, without external monitoring or interference. Projects are therefore at best exclusively addressed to national judges.

4.1. There are two Areas, six Priorities and three Preferences suggested.
Projects may address more than one Area, but must clearly indicate which one is the main Area and which is an ancillary Area.

Within an Area applicants must indicate clearly which of the Priorities mentioned below are addressed by their proposal. Projects should address at least one of the Priorities, but may address more than one.

Finally preference will be given to projects considering the below stated Preferences.

Projects should consist of training activities such as conferences, seminars, workshops, colloquia etc., as well as short or long term training courses on EU competition law. Projects under this priority should be rather oriented on advanced / in-depth trainings for national judges. Trainings should be hands-on oriented, include case studies, refer to the relevant case law of the European Court of Justice and include an analysis of relevant EU jurisprudence.

Within this area, the call focuses on the following priorities:

Priority 1: Training on the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU and relevant secondary Law, such as the block exemption regulations;

Applicants are invited to choose at least 3 out of the 6 topics listed below: 3

 

  1. a)  Scope of application of Article 101 (concept of undertaking, concept of agreement and concerted practice;

  2. b)  Restrictions by object and effect under Article 101;

  3. c)  Concept of dominance under Article 102;

  4. d)  Exclusionary and exploitative (in particular excessive pricing) abuses under Article 102;

  5. e)  Concept of effect on trade between Member States;

  6. f)  The Block exemptions for vertical agreements4, production and specialisation agreements5, R&D agreements6 and technology transfer agreements7, including related guidelines.

Priority 2: Training activities focusing on national laws implementing Directive 2014/104 on antitrust damages actions8. The aim of these projects is to facilitate judges' ability to apply the new rules in an accurate and coherent manner.

Applicants are invited to choose at least 2 out of the 5 topics listed below:

  1. a)  The disclosure of evidence in proceedings relating to an action for damages;

  2. b)  The passing on of overcharges and the interplay between damages actions relating to the same infringement but instituted by injured parties on different levels of the supply chain;

  3. c)  The quantification of antitrust harm in the framework of damages actions, including the application of the methods for quantification identified in the Commission's Practical Guide on the Quantification of Antitrust Harm9;

  4. d)  The interaction between the public and the private enforcement of competition law, focussing on both the positive interaction (how can claimants benefit from enforcement action by competition authorities) and measures to avoid negative interactions (for example limits on the disclosure of evidence and on the joint and several liability);

  5. e) Case management and best practices in dealing with questions of jurisdiction and applicable law and in dealing with the situation of parallel or subsequent proceedings in different Member States.

    Priority 3: Training activities focusing on underlying economic principles of competition law. Applicants are invited to choose at least one topic:

  6. a)  Economic principles and economic reasoning (e.g., supply and demand, cost analysis, substitution and strategic interactions in different competition environments, market definitions, horizontal and vertically related markets, market power);

  7. b)  Assessment of economic evidence/studies in litigation and its procedural handling, including a review of currently used estimation methods (qualitative and quantitative), underlining advantages and limits of them, as well as the importance of consistency, robustness and duplicability of results.

  8. b) The regulations adopted in the framework of the State aid modernization exercise, i.e. mainly the De minimis Regulation12 and the General Block Exemption Regulation13;

 

c) The role of national courts14 in implementing State aid law (based on the notice on the enforcement of State aid law by national courts and on the Recovery notice15);

d) Therequestforprovisionalmeasuresbroughtbeforethecourtsanditsinteractionwiththe EU Court proceedings.

The development of legal linguistic skills can be the main focus of a training programme.

Priority 6: Projects should cover legal linguistic training activities linked to the specific terminology used in the application of competition law. The main goal of the projects should be the overcoming of the geographical/linguistic barriers to the benefit of the creation of a common European judicial area.

Distribution of financial support between different priorities and allocation of points

Please refer to the "Award Criteria Guidance HT.5115" published with this call. 4.2. Preference will be given to projects that:

  •   Provide for trainings foreseeing consecutive levels, building up one on another;

  •   Do not simply duplicate/overlap existing/planned training material or existing/future projects of other training providers at national level but that act in complementarity or that innovate;

  •   Address judges from several member states in one training and thus encourage networking;

 

5. Admissibility requirements

Applications must be sent no later than the deadline for submitting applications referred to in section 3.

Applications must be submitted in writing and sent by post (see section 8) using the application form and its annexes available at http://ec.europa.eu/competition/calls/proposals_open.html. Failure to comply with those requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.

 

6. Eligibility, exclusion, selection and award criteria

6.1 Eligibility criteria

Projects must:

  1. (a)  be submitted by authorities, public or private organisations duly established in one of the eligible countries, or an international organisation. Organisations of third countries may participate as associate partners but their costs cannot be considered as eligible. Furthermore they are not permitted to submit projects or to be co-applicants (co-beneficiaries). Organisations which are profit-oriented must submit applications in partnership with public entities or private non-for- profit-oriented organisations. Bodies set up by the European Union falling under Article 208 of the Financial Regulation16 shall not be entitled to apply for a grant but may be associated to the application. However, their costs cannot be co-funded by the grant;

  2. (b)  target the members of the target group as defined under point 2.2 of this call for proposal;

  3. (c)  seek an EU grant that cannot be lower than EUR 50 000 or higher than EUR 400 000;

  4. (d)  not be completed or have started prior to the date of submission of the grant application.

6.2 Exclusion criteria

6.2.1 Exclusion from participation17

Applicants will be excluded from participating in this call for proposals if they are in any of the following situations:

(a)  the applicant is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up procedures, where its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, where it is in an arrangement with creditors, where its business activities are suspended, or where it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under 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 law of the country in which it is established, with those of the country in which the contracting authority is located or those of the country of the performance of the contract;

(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 conduct which has an impact on its professional credibility where such conduct denotes 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 selection criteria or in the performance of a contract / grant agreement;

  • (ii)  entering into agreement with other economic operators with the aim of distorting competition;

  • (iii)violating intellectual property rights;
  • (iv)attempting to influence the decision-making process of the contracting authority during the procurement / grant award procedure;
  • (v) attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it undue advantages in the procurement / grant 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 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 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, and in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, as well as corruption as defined in the law of the country where the contracting authority is located, the country in which the economic operator is established or the country of the performance of the contract;
  • (iii)participation in a criminal organisation, as defined in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;
  • (iv)money laundering or terrorist financing, as defined in Article 1 of Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council;
  • (v) terrorist-related 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 forms of trafficking in human beings as defined in Article 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;

(e) ithasshownsignificantdeficienciesincomplyingwithmainobligationsintheperformance of a contract / grant agreement financed by the 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.

6.2.2 Exclusion from award18

Applicants will not be awarded a grant, in the course of the grant award procedure, if they:

  1. (a)  are in an exclusion situation established in accordance with Article 106 of the Financial Regulation;

  2. (b)  have misrepresented the information required as a condition for participating in the procedure or have failed to supply that information;

  3. (c)  were previously involved in the preparation of procurement documents where this entails a distortion of competition that cannot be remedied otherwise.

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 of the Financial Regulation. The declaration on honour is available on our website (http://ec.europa.eu/competition/calls/proposals_open.html).

6.3 Selection criteria

Proposals that meet the eligibility criteria and do not fall under the exclusion criteria will be evaluated on the basis of their financial capacity and operational capacity.

6.3.1 Financial capacity19

Applicants must have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the duration of the project and they must participate in its funding. Financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the following supporting documents to be submitted with the application:

  1. a)  Low value grants (≤ EUR 60 000): a declaration on their honour.

  2. b)  Grants > EUR 60 000: a declaration on their honour and,

    EITHER

    the profit and loss account, the balance sheet for the last financial year for which the accounts were closed;

    OR
    for newly created entities, the business plan might replace the above documents.

On the basis of these documents, if the European Commission considers that financial capacity is not proved in a satisfactory way, it may:

o request further information;
o propose a grant agreement without pre-financing;
o propose a grant agreement with a pre-financing paid in instalments;
o propose a grant agreement with a pre-financing covered by a bank guarantee20 o reject the application.

Verification of financial capacity does not apply to public bodies or international organisations.

6.3.2 Operational capacity21

Applicants must have the professional competencies and the qualifications necessary to complete the project or work programme. Applicants must submit a declaration on their honour, or the following supporting documents:

  •   the organisation' s activity reports (if applicable);

  •   A short narrative description of which existent professional competencies/resources will be used to implement the project and/or curriculum vitae of the people primarily responsible for managing and implementing the operation;

  •   an exhaustive lists of previous projects and activities performed and connected to the policy field of a given call or to the actions to be carried out;

  •   an inventory of natural or economic resources involved in the project.

6.4 Award criteria

Only proposals meeting the above selection criteria will be evaluated. The award criteria aim to ensure that projects with a high inherent quality are selected, and that they meet as far as possible the objectives and priorities of this call in a cost effective manner. Care must be taken to seek synergies with other EU instruments and programmes and to avoid overlaps and duplications with ongoing activities.

All projects will be assessed against the following criteria:

1) Relevance to the objectives, priorities and preferences of the Call (up to 30 points)
a) The extent to which the proposal matches the objectives of the call, the suggested relevant

Areas, Priorities and Preferences announced in section 4 (up to 10 points)

20 Art. 134 FR, 206 RAP.
21 Art. 131.3 and 132.1 FR, 202 RAP.

10

  1. b)  Relevance of the issues addressed in relation to the geographical scope of the project and complementarity with other National/European activities, reference to a reliable needs assessment (up to 10 points)

  2. c)  The extent to which the proposal matches the requirement of an European added value announced in section 2.1 (up to 10 points)

  1. 2)  Quality of the project as regards its design, presentation, organisation and implementation (up to 30 points)

    1. a)  Are the methodology (approach, detail and specificity of the proposed activities, appropriateness of the activities for the expected audience, quality of the speakers, monitoring systems etc.) and the timeframe suitable to achieve the desired outcome of the project? (up to 15 points)

    2. b)  Does the project show the appropriate means (e.g. networks, partnership with relevant institutions, marketing strategy and capability) to successfully reach the target audience? (up to 15 points)

  2. 3)  Geographical scope of the project, expected results, dissemination and sustainability (up to 20 points).

    a) How wide is the geographical impact in terms of expected results of the project in terms of partners, participants and the target group? (up to 10 points)

    b) Aretheexpectedresultsachievable,relevantandlikelytohaveasustainableimpact?(upto10 points)

4)  Cost-effectiveness (up to 20 points)

To qualify for an award, the project must obtain at least 50 % of the points available for criteria 1, 2 and 4 and at least 60 out of 100 points.

During the evaluation procedure the Commission may request additional documents/clarifications and necessary technical and financial adjustments. Once the evaluation procedure is completed, including the adoption of the Commission’s award decision, the Commission will inform each applicant of the final decision taken and of the next steps and procedures for the preparation of the grant agreements.

  1. a)  Is the forward budget reasonable, given the expected results and in terms of cost per day of one

    trained judge (up to 10 points)?

  2. b)  Do the costs allocated in each section of the budget represent a good value for money and a reasonable ratio between staff costs and overall costs of the project (in particular in view of the cost coverage foreseen for participants) (up to 10 points)?

 

7. Financial provisions22

7.1  In implementing the projects, beneficiaries should comply with the Financial Regulation (FR) (and in particular Title VI of Part One) and its Rules of Application (RAP) 2012 as amended23;

7.2  The grant provided by the Programme should not cover the entire cost of the action; the EU contribution is limited to maximum 80% and in exceptional and duly justified cases to maximum 90 % of the total eligible cost of the action, notably for: European, national or sub-national entities specifically created with the purpose of training national judges; European, national and sub-national associations of competition law judges; Applicants originating from EU Member States under financial assistance or surveillance (Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Romania and Spain).

Consequently, at least 20% and in special cases 10% of the total eligible costs must be covered by the applicant, the partners or by another fund provider.

7.3  Non-cumulative award: Co-financing of a project under this Programme cannot be combined with any other co-financing by another Programme financed by the budget of the European Union;

7.4  The Project must not be completed or have started prior to the date of submission of the grant application;

7.5  Contributions in kind cannot be included in the project budget as an expense and are not accepted as co-financing, unless falling into the category introduced by recital (7) of Regulation 1382/2013;24

7.6  The rules on eligible costs are described in the general conditions of the draft grant agreement enclosed to this call for proposal;

7.7  For activities which can be carried out by both public and private bodies and entities, the non- deductible VAT incurred by public bodies and entities is to be eligible, in so far as it is paid in respect of the implementation of activities, such as training or awareness-raising, which cannot be considered as the exercise of the public authority;

7.8  The applicant must submit a balanced budget estimates in Euros presenting the sources of co- financing other than the budget of the EU;

7.9  Costs for accommodation and meals/refreshments must be reimbursed on the basis of unit costs, the amounts of which are established based on the accommodation and daily allowance scale for missions of the staff of the European Commission25. 50% daily rate will apply for half day seminars;



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