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Capacity building for litigating cases relating to democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights violations - JUST-PPPA-LITI-AG-2018
Deadline: 28 May 2019   - 67 days

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Priorities, activities to be co-financed and expected results

1. Priorities

The Commission is implementing a preparatory action[1] to create an EU fund for awareness raising and legal assistance to individuals and civil society organisations litigating democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights violations. The objective is to increase the awareness and knowledge of EU law, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights (the Charter), and existing remedies and redress mechanisms to enforce them at national and European level.

To pursue the general objective to contribute to effective access to justice for all and a more effective and coherent implementation and application of EU law, including the Charter, the call sets the following specific objectives:

  • To strengthen the knowledge and ability of legal professionals and practitioners, including those working for civil society organisations and independent human rights bodies, to effectively engage in litigation practices at national and European level to improve access to justice and enforcement of rights under EU law, including the Charter, through training, knowledge sharing and exchange of good practices;
  • To support leverage activities, e.g. communication and campaigning, which help to raise awareness about rights, existing remedies and redress mechanisms.

2. Description of the activities

The success of strategic litigation initiatives rests on a comprehensive approach which requires specific skills and knowledge by all actors involved, in particular legal professionals and practitioners. Therefore, training activities, knowledge sharing and exchanges of good practices are needed to reinforce capacities and to strengthen cooperation among these actors. In addition, communication, campaigning and awareness raising activities are as important as the actual litigation to mobilise public opinion, to maintain individuals engaged throughout the process and to ensure the future enforcement of the decisions.

EU support can help build the capacity of relevant actors to develop this strategic approach to litigation practices in areas covered by EU law, including the Charter. This call for proposals therefore focuses on funding partnerships and activities benefitting legal professionals and practitioners who may assist or represent individuals wishing to litigate their rights under EU law, including the Charter, at national and European level, in particular through the following activities:

  • the development of practical learning tools and initiatives to increase the availability and uptake of specialised knowledge (e.g. thematic databases of jurisprudence);
  • the development and delivery of training and train the trainers modules for legal professionals (such as experts, lawyers and legal advisers) and practitioners;
  • the exchange of good practices, knowledge and skills, and mutual learning activities, including through the development of strategic partnerships and networks and awareness raising initiatives.

Activities must focus on the rights enshrined in the Charter and must be relevant for areas covered by EU law.

Activities must take place in the Member States of the European Union to be eligible.

Activities should not duplicate but demonstrate how they build on previous or ongoing EU-funded projects, when relevant.

Training activities for legal professionals and practitioners should use interactive modern training methodologies, getting inspiration from the Commission “Advice for training providers” and the good training practices advertised on the European e-Justice Portal.

3. Expected results

  • Increased awareness and knowledge by legal professionals and practitioners (including from civil society organisations and independent human rights bodies) about EU law including the Charter and existing remedies and redress mechanisms to enforce them at national and European level;
  • Increased awareness and knowledge by the general public of their rights under EU law including the Charter, existing remedies and redress mechanisms to enforce them at national and European level as well as awareness and knowledge about support available by legal professionals and practitioners;
  • Strengthened abilities of legal professionals and practitioners to cooperate and engage in litigation practices to assist individuals in making effective use of available remedies to enforce their rights under EU law, including the Charter, before national and European courts.

[1]COMMISSION DECISION on the financing of the preparatory action Union fund for financial support for litigating cases relating to violations of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights and the adoption of the work programme for 2018 (C(2019) 120).

 

1. Admissibility requirements  

a)  Applications must be submitted no later than the deadline for submission as indicated on the Funding & Tenders Opportunities Portal.

 

b)  Applications must be submitted in writing using the Electronic Submission System of the Funding & Tenders Opportunities 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.

 

2. Eligibility Criteria 

2.1  Eligible countries:

- the Member States of the European Union (including their overseas departments).

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

The applicant and the partners must be private organisations or public bodies, duly established in one of the EU Member States, or international organisations.

Organisations that are profit-oriented may only submit applications in partnership with public bodies or private non-profit 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.

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. 

2.3    Eligibility of the application

a)     The application may be submitted by a single applicant or in partnership;

b)     The project can be either national or transnational;

c)     The EU grant requested cannot be lower than EUR 75 000.

3.1 Exclusion criteria

3.1 Exclusion

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

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. 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:

 

  1. 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;
  2. entering into agreement with other applicants with the aim of distorting competition;
  3. violating intellectual property rights;
  4. attempting to influence the decision-making process of the Commission during the award procedure;
  5. 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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. conduct related to a criminal organisation, as referred to in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;
  4. 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;
  5. 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;
  6. 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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. facts referred to in decisions of persons or entities being entrusted with EU budget implementation tasks;
  4. information transmitted by Member States implementing Union funds;
  5. 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
  6. 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 activities 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:

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.

 

In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the threshold applies 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 is available online.

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;
  • due recovery orders;
  • involvement in case of serious administrative errors or fraud;
  • pending legal procedures or judicial proceedings for serious administrative errors or fraud.

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 and the necessary qualifications to complete the proposed action.

Single applicants or partnerships must have proven experience in the area of litigation practices.

Organisations participating in several projects shall have the operational capacity to implement multiple projects.

Organisations 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: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and 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: Public bodies (i.e. a body governed by public law, such as public authorities at local, regional or national level, public universities) 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 (Annex 4).

The single applicant or the partnership shall explain their professional competencies and qualifications in the area of litigation practices under section 5.1 of PART B – Project Technical Description.

 

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. 

 

6. Award Criteria

The award criteria are set 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.

 

 

(a) Relevance to the priorities of the call (25 points):

Every project shall be evaluated on relevance of its objectives to the priorities of the call for proposals, relevance of the needs addressed by the project, contribution of the proposal to the priorities, and complementarity with other EU activities, avoiding duplication with projects funded by other EU programmes. Every proposed action has to be based on a reliable needs assessment. Projects should include innovative elements. 

(b) Quality of the proposed action (30 points):

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.

(c) European added value of the project (15 points):

 

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 EU law, including the Charter, and to a more effective access to justice for all in areas of EU law; its capacity to raise awareness about fundamental rights; its contribution to the elaboration and dissemination of good practices or its potential to create practical tools and solutions that address cross-border or EU-wide challenges. 

(d) Expected results, dissemination, sustainability and long-term impact (20 points):

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.

(e) Cost-effectiveness (10 points):

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 their total scores. The list of projects proposed for the award of a grant will be established based on the amount of budget available.

Proposals scoring below 18 points for the relevance criterion will not be considered for the award of a grant. Proposals scoring below 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 540 000.

 

The Commission plans to award between 1 to 3 grants.

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 24 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.

 

Other practical information

10.1 Co-financing rate

The EU grant may not exceed 80 % 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).

 

 

10.5 Multiple proposals by applicants/partners

An organisation can apply for grants under this call with more than one proposal, if these proposals differ from one another. In each proposal, the organisation can be the applicant or a partner. It shall ensure sufficient operational and financial capacity in case more than one proposal were to be co-financed.

Duplication of proposals is not allowed, i.e. submitting the same proposal more than once under this call.

 

10.6 Search for partners

There is a function "View / Edit Partner search" in the webpage of the call to facilitate the search for partners.

 

11 Financial provisions

Information related to the financial conditions in relation to this topic is available in the Annex on financial provisions for 2019 Action grants under the Justice Programme and the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (see below). This 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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