Priorities, activities to be co-financed and expected results
The Commission is implementing a preparatory action 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:
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:
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
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
The authorising officer shall exclude and applicant and partners (lead applicant and co-applicant(s)) from participating in calls for proposals where:
(d) it has been established by a final judgment that the applicant is guilty of any of the following:
(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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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).
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 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.
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:
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.