The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) was established by Regulation (EU) N° 1316/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council1 (the "CEF Regulation"). In accordance with Article 17 of the CEF Regulation, the European Commission must adopt implementing acts for the annual Work Programmes of CEF Telecom.
The general context for this call for proposals is defined in section 3.3 of the 2019 CEF Telecom Work Programme2 as published on the call page of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) website.3 The background and rationale for this call for proposals are defined in section 3.3.1 of the 2019 Work Programme.
2. PRIORITIES & OBJECTIVES
2.1 Priority outcomes
The priority outcomes of this call for proposals are defined in section 184.108.40.206 of the 2019 Work Programme.
1 Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Connecting Europe Facility, amending Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 680/2007 and (EC) No 67/2010.
2 Commission Implementing Decision C(2019) 1021 of 14 February 2019
The objective of this call for proposals is to design, develop and roll-out a solid technical infrastructure to support European higher education institutions in offering to students a secure cross-border electronic identification and authentication as well as cross-border electronic exchange of data required by the online student services.
The future solution should integrate the eIDAS eID framework with the digital Erasmus+ infrastructure built up by the Erasmus Without Paper Network4, Erasmus+ Dashboard5, Erasmus+ Mobile App6, Online Learning Agreement7, the European Student Card project8 and EMREX9.
In order to ensure the future usability of the core service platform, proposers should be aware of the studies and projects funded by the Connecting Europe Facility and addressing student mobility (e.g. two studies on eIDAS and student mobility10, Transformation of Greek e-Gov Services to eIDAS Crossborder Services/academia services11, ESMO12; Studies+13; eID4U14 and e-Signature and Erasmus Student eCard in Greece15, MyAcademicID16 and SEAL17).
The goal of the future solution is to enable European students in a cross-border mobility context to use the different academic online services (application services, campus services) as well as non-academic services for students.
Mobile students refer to Erasmus+ students, including those going on mobility as part of the Erasmus+ Digital Opportunity Traineeship scheme, as well as European students who undertake a period of learning or training in a higher education institution of another Member State or EEA country. In the future, the Core Service platform should be extendable to cater to other mobility schemes and to students who enrol for a full degree in another Member State or EEA country. For this reason, the solution should be generic by design and capable of being gradually extended in future Work Programmes to other initiatives.
The platform should offer a comprehensive, interoperable, sustainable and flexible solution corresponding to the needs of a highly heterogeneous academic environment which:
enable students to identify themselves in a trusted manner, in line with the once- only-principle18;
allow secure exchange and verification of student data and academic records;
reduce administrative procedures;
enable students to access to services to which they are entitled to when arriving in the host country.
The solution should re-use the eIDAS eID Digital Service Infrastructure (DSI).
Stakeholder engagement and monitoring activities:
o Spreading awareness about the EU Student eCard DSI for current and prospective users, both in the public and in the private sectors, including national authorities and administrations
o Informing, training and advising stakeholders in and beyond the current
EU Student eCard community o Engaging with user groups,
o Day-to-day administration, maintenance and operation of the DSI
o Testing services for higher education institutions, including analysing user-feedback
o Helpdesk activities; provide technical assistance; showcase how to connect to the platform
The solution should be compliant with the EU General Data Protection Regulation20 and, if applicable, with the EU regulation on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by the EU21. The European and the relevant national data protection rules and principles should be implanted into the planned future technical solution from its very first design phase, including the first version of the user requirements and technical specifications. Any personal data should not be processed for other purposes than the EU Student eCard DSI (platform development, stakeholder engagement, monitoring and service administration).
The proposal shall comprise quality indicators to be used during the project lifetime for monitoring the results stemming from its different activities. Validation of the technological components and of the integrated system shall be included among the project activities.
Concerning Service administration, it is expected that the project will maintain a list of services and people who contact the customer service desk and ensure follow-up of requests. There should be a ticketing system in place in order to record the requests and monitor progress and follow-up.
The project shall maintain a list of users and services connecting to/using the core services, and gather quantitative information on the usage of those services. The project shall also implement a feedback gathering mechanism and measure the satisfaction of the users with CEF EU Student eCard core services. Reasons for abandoning or deciding against using the services shall be documented.
Collaborations with other CEF Building Blocks and/or sector-specific DSIs should be launched.
The grant beneficiaries must plan for a handover and transfer of the intellectual property rights associated with all material part of the grant agreement’s execution – i.e. software binaries, source code, project documentation, XML schemas, etc. to the receiving entity following the grant’s conclusion. This entity may be the European Commission. The Commission will inform the beneficiaries on the exact modalities in this regard during the project’s execution. The project partners must further ensure that the tools chosen to produce the project's artefacts should not lead to vendor lock-in and thus impede the future take-up, further development and maintenance of those artefacts. If such tools are used, clear arrangements have to be made to provide a perpetual free of charge licence for their use by the receiving organisation.
2.2 RESULTS EXPECTED FROM THE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
The benefits and expected outcomes of this call for proposals are defined in section 220.127.116.11 of the 2019 Work Programme.
The EU Student eCard core service platform should enable pan-European ubiquitous automatic recognition of student status and identity, secure electronic exchange of academic data, as well as secure access to online student services based on the once-only principle. Students should be able to electronically apply to and enrol in any accredited higher education institution in Europe when moving abroad for studies and traineeships without having to go physically to an office and go through all the administrative paperwork. The platform should reduce the administrative procedures for students in mobility and higher education institutions in sending and receiving students, from the nomination stage to the exchange of learning outcomes for recognition of credits earned abroad.
Date of publication of call for proposals
Thursday 4 July 2019
Deadline for the submission of proposals
Thursday 14 November 2019
Evaluation of proposals
December 2019 - February 2020 (indicative)
Consultation of the CEF Committee
March 2020 (indicative)
Adoption of the Selection Decision
April 2020 (indicative)
Preparation and signature of grant agreements
May-July 2020 (indicative)
The indicative total amount allocated to "EU Student eCard – Core Service Platform" is €2,5 million, with a funding rate of up to 100% of eligible costs.
It is expected that the total available funding is being attributed to one proposal. This does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Implementation period: The Action may not start before the date of submission of the application.
Indicative duration: The indicative duration of an Action proposed under this call is 24 months.
5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
Proposals must be:
submitted to the Commission on paper in one (1) original clearly identified as such and one (1) copy, accompanied by an electronic copy on USB key;
submitted by the submission deadline (see sections 3 on Timetable and 15.2 on Submission process) by registered post, hand delivered or sent by courier service. (Proposals submitted by fax, telex, or e-mail will not be accepted);
complete, i.e. include all parts of the application forms (A, B, C or D);
duly signed by the applicant(s).
Failure to comply with any of these requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.
6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
6.1 Eligible applicants
In accordance with the 2019 Work Programme and pursuant to Article 9 of the CEF Regulation,22 only those proposals submitted by one of the following types of applicants are eligible:
One or more Member States;
With the agreement of the Member State(s) or EEA countr(y)ies concerned, international organisations, Joint Undertakings,23 or public or private undertakings or bodies established in Member States;
Consortium composition: proposals must be submitted by consortia consisting of a minimum of three organisations, based in three or more different Member States and/or EEA countries participating in the CEF Telecom programme.
For British applicants: Please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, UK applicants will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of Article II.16.3.1 (a) (change of the legal situation of the beneficiary) of the model grant agreement24.
In accordance with section 5.3.1 of the 2019 Work Programme, European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA) may participate25 in the call for proposals, even when not explicitly mentioned in the Work Programme text, with the same rights, obligations and requirements as EU Member States. At the time of call publication, these conditions apply to Norway and Iceland only.26
Third countries and third country entities
Where necessary to achieve the objectives of a given project of common interest and where duly motivated, third countries and entities established in third countries may participate in actions contributing to the projects of common interest. They may not receive funding under the CEF Regulation, except where it is indispensable to achieve the objectives of a given project of common interest.
Acceding states and candidate countries benefiting from a pre-accession strategy may also participate in the sector of the CEF covering telecommunications infrastructure in accordance with agreements signed with the EU. As at the time of call publication no such agreements have been signed, the same conditions as for third countries apply to acceding states and candidate countries.
Third countries and entities established in third countries may only participate as part of a consortium with applicants from EU/EEA countries. The application must contain the agreement of the Member State concerned by the proposed Action and a declaration from the European partner involved in the proposal on why the participation of the third country applicant is indispensable. Applicants that are entities established in a third country must also provide proof of the support of the third country authorities concerned by the action.
Applicants without legal personality
Proposals may be submitted by entities which do not have a legal personality under the applicable national law, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf and offer a guarantee for the protection of the EU's financial interests equivalent to that offered by legal persons.
Proposals submitted by natural persons are not eligible.
Applicants may designate affiliated entities within the meaning of Article 187 of the Financial Regulation,27 for the purpose of supporting the implementation of the action submitted for funding. Such affiliated entities must comply with the eligibility criteria for applicants.
6.2 Member State agreement
Any applicant that cannot provide the agreement of the EU Member State or EEA country concerned will not be eligible.
6.3 Eligible actions
In line with Article 7 of the CEF Regulation, only actions contributing to "projects of common interest" as identified in the Telecom Guidelines28 shall be eligible for support through EU financial aid in the form of grants.
Please note that failure to comply with any of the eligibility criteria indicated above will lead to the rejection of the application.
7. EXCLUSION CRITERIA
An applicant shall be excluded from participating in the call for proposals procedure 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;
(c) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is guilty of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession to which the applicant belongs, or by having engaged in any wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:
(i) fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of selection criteria or in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision;
(ii) entering into agreement with other applicants with the aim of distorting competition;
(iii) violating intellectual property rights;
(iv) attempting to influence the decision-making process of the
Commission/Agency during the award procedure;
(v) attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it
undue advantages in the award procedure;
(d) it has been established by a final judgment that the applicant is guilty of any of the following:
(i) fraud, within the meaning of Article 3 of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;
(ii) corruption, as defined in Article 4(2) of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 or Article 3 of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 May 1997, or conduct referred to in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, or corruption as defined in the applicable law;
(iii) conduct related to a criminal organisation, as referred to in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;
(iv) money laundering or terrorist financing, within the meaning of Article 1 (3), (4) and (5) of Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council
(v) terrorist offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, as defined in Articles 1 and 3 of Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, respectively, or inciting, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit such offences, as referred to in Article 4 of that Decision;
(vi) child labour or other forms of 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) facts for to: