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In Prospect 151361 - Supporting Civil Society Organisations and Business Support Organisations in DCFTA and SME policy implementation - Georgia
Deadline: 30 Jun 2016   CALL EXPIRED

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 Entrepreneurship and SMEs
 Capacity Building
 Social Innovation
 Transnational cooperation
 Business Development

1 Supporting Civil Society Organisations and Business SUPPORT ORGANISATIONS in DCFTA and SME policy implementation

1.1 Background

As a part of the Eastern Partnership’s bilateral agenda, on 27 June 2014 the Government of Georgia (GoG) and the EU have signed the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA) including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). Pending its entry into force, since September 1, 2014, approximately 80% of the Association Agreement is being applied on a provisional basis.

In line with the provisions of the AA/DCFTA and as integral part of the relations between the EU and Georgia, the EU Delegation to Georgia intends to further ensure the involvement of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and business support organisations (BSOs) in the implementation of the DCFTA and SME policies, while promoting stronger organisations with proper governance structures, a more effective dialogue and cooperation and better services delivery to Georgian SMEs.

Both CSOs and BSOs play important roles, critical for a democratic and economic transformation of Georgia. The role of CSOs is fundamental in their contribution to implement and monitor in an open, transparent and regular way policies and processes. BSOs have an important potential to fulfil functions of advocacy and respond to their members needs by delivering high quality and affordable services.

Regular public-private consultations including CSOs and BSOs need to be further reinforced and formalized, in order to tackle challenges and policy barriers and to ensure that policy developments are inclusive and meet emerging needs.

This Action supports relevant chapters of the EU-Georgia Association Agenda and is in line with the SME Strategy for Georgia 2016-2020.

Funding for this Action is granted to Georgia through the broader programme "Support to EU-Georgia Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)" signed on 13/01/2015.

 

1.2 Objectives of the programme and priority issues

The Government of Georgia has expressed its commitment to facilitate an enabling environment for the further development of Georgian civil society organisations and business/sector associations. However, concerns still remain over their organisational weaknesses and disconnections. In this regard, the project aims at providing the necessary capacity building and support to improve their participation to the DCFTA and SME policy process.

The global objective of this call for proposals is to strengthen CSOs and BSOs along the DCFTA implementation process and along the implementation of the SME strategy for Georgia.

The specific objectives of this call for proposals are:

Lot 1

Strengthened capacity of civil society organisations to serve as effective vectors of democratic and socio economic development, through their better involvement in DCFTA and SME legislative monitoring, policy formulations and recommendations, sectoral and trade studies, consolidated networking and coordination capacities, more effective engagement into public-private policy dialogue and participation to DCFTA/SME communication campaigns.

 

Lot 2

Strengthened capacity of business support organisations on DCFTA and SME related policies, in order to enable them to provide better and targeted-oriented services to Georgian SME, to more effectively engage into the public-private dialogue on DCFTA and SME related policies, including contribution to the elaboration of national sectorial strategies and policy recommendations, to consolidate coordination capacities, expand their network with the EU SME business community and promote DCFTA/SME communication campaigns.

Priorities of projects to be funded should include, for lot 1 and lot 2, the following:

 

High priority will be given to actions in partnerships and networks to strengthen common approaches and agendas.

High priority will be given to actions focused outside Tbilisi, aimed at strengthening the local dimension.

 

1.3 Financial allocation provided by the contracting authority

The overall indicative amount made available under this call for proposals is EUR 2,000,000. The Contracting Authority reserves the right not to award all available funds.

Indicative allocation of funds by lot/geographical distribution:

Lot 1: EUR 1,000,000

Lot 2: EUR 1,000,000

If the allocation indicated for a specific lot cannot be fully e.g. used due to insufficient quality or number of proposals received, the Contracting Authority reserves the right to reallocate the remaining funds to another lot.

Size of grants

Any grant requested under this call for proposals must fall between the following minimum and maximum amounts:

Lot 1

• minimum amount: EUR 300,000

• maximum amount: EUR 500,000

Lot 2

• minimum amount: EUR 300,000

• maximum amount: EUR 500,000

Any grant requested under this call for proposals must fall between the following minimum and maximum percentages of total eligible costs of the action:

• Minimum percentage: 50% of the total eligible costs of the action.

• Maximum percentage: 80% of the total eligible costs of the action (see also section 2.1.5).

 

The balance (i.e. the difference between the total cost of the action and the amount requested from the Contracting Authority) must be financed from sources other than the European Union Budget or the European Development Fund.


 

2 Rules for this call for proposals

These guidelines set out the rules for the submission, selection and implementation of the actions financed under this call, in conformity with the Practical Guide, which is applicable to the present call (available at http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/prag/document.do?locale=en) .

2.1 Eligibility criteria

There are three sets of eligibility criteria, relating to:

(1) the actors:

• The lead applicant, i.e. the entity submitting the application form (2.1.1),

• if any, its co-applicant(s) (where it is not specified otherwise the lead applicant and its co-applicant(s) are hereinafter jointly referred as "applicant(s)") (2.1.1),

• and, if any, affiliated entity(ies) to the lead applicant and/or to a co-applicant(s). (2.1.2);

(2) the actions:

• Actions for which a grant may be awarded (2.1.4);

(3) the costs:

• types of cost that may be taken into account in setting the amount of the grant (2.1.5).

2.1.1 Eligibility of applicants (i.e. lead applicant and co-applicant(s))

Lead applicant

(1) In order to be eligible for a grant, the lead applicant must:

Lot 1

• be a legal person and

• be non-profit-making and

• be a specific type of organisation such as: non-governmental organisation, public sector operator, local authority, international (inter-governmental) organisation as defined by Article 43 of the Rules of application of the EU Financial Regulation and

• be established in a Member State of the European Union or in a country that is beneficiary of the ENI Regulation No 232/2014 (including Georgia) or in a country that is beneficiary of an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance set up by Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 of 17 July 2006 establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) or a member State of the European Economic Area and

• be directly responsible for the preparation and management of the action with the co-applicant(s) and affiliated entity(ies), not acting as an intermediary and

• have at least three years of relevant experience at the time of the submission of an application, including in the provision of relevant services in the field covered by this Call for Proposals.

Lot 2

• be a legal person and

• be non-profit-making and

• be a specific type of organisation such as: business membership association registered in Georgia for at least one year and having at least 60% of their members being SMEs (business associations, sector associations, chamber of commerce, federations of business associations, employers clubs, etc ..) and

• be directly responsible for the preparation and management of the action with the co-applicant(s) and affiliated entity(ies), not acting as an intermediary and

• have at least one year of relevant experience at the time of the submission of an application, including in the provision of relevant services in the field covered by this Call for Proposals.

The below applies to both lots:

(2) Potential applicants may not participate in calls for proposals or be awarded grants if they are in any of the situations listed in section 2.3.3 of the Practical Guide;

In Annex A.2, section 5 (‘declaration by the lead applicant’), the lead applicant must declare that the lead applicant himself, the co-applicant(s) and affiliated entity(ies) are not in any of these situations.

The lead applicant must act with co-applicant(s) as specified hereafter.

If awarded the grant contract, the lead applicant will become the beneficiary identified as the Coordinator in Annex E3h1 (Special Conditions). The Coordinator is the main interlocutor of the Contracting Authority. It represents and acts on behalf of any other co-beneficiary (if any) and coordinate the design and implementation of the action.


 

Co-applicant(s)

Co-applicants participate in designing and implementing the action, and the costs they incur are eligible in the same way as those incurred by the lead applicant.

Co-applicants must satisfy the eligibility criteria as applicable to the lead applicant.

For lot 1:

If the applicant is a foreign CSO not established in Georgia (meeting eligible criteria), it must act with at least two co-applicants established in Georgia, including at least one from outside the capital Tbilisi.

For lot 2:

If the applicant is established in Tbilisi (meeting eligible criteria), it must act with at least two co-applicants established outside the capital Tbilisi.

Co-applicants must sign the mandate in Annex A.2, section 4.

If awarded the grant contract, the co-applicant(s) (if any) will become beneficiary(ies) in the action (together with the Coordinator).


 

2.1.2 Affiliated entities

Affiliated entity(ies)

The lead applicant and its co-applicant(s) may act with affiliated entity(ies)

Only the following entities may be considered as affiliated entities to the lead applicant and/or to co-applicant(s):

Only entities having a structural link with the applicants (i.e. the lead applicant or a co-applicant), in particular a legal or capital link.

This structural link encompasses mainly two notions:

(i) Control, as defined in Directive 2013/34/EU on the annual financial statements, consolidated financial statements and related reports of certain types of undertakings:

Entities affiliated to applicant may hence be:

- Entities directly or indirectly controlled by an applicant (daughter companies or first-tier subsidiaries). They may also be entities controlled by an entity controlled by an applicant (granddaughter companies or second-tier subsidiaries) and the same applies to further tiers of control;

- Entities directly or indirectly controlling the applicant (parent companies). Likewise, they may be entities controlling an entity controlling the applicant;

- Entities under the same direct or indirect control as the applicant (sister companies).

(ii) Membership, i.e. the applicant is legally defined as a e.g. network, federation, association in which the proposed affiliated entities also participate or the applicant participates in the same entity (e.g. network, federation, association) as the proposed affiliated entities.

 

The structural link shall as a general rule be neither limited to the action nor established for the sole purpose of its implementation. This means that the link would exist independently of the award of the grant; it should exist before the call for proposals and remain valid after the end of the action.

 

By way of exception, an entity may be considered as affiliated to an applicant even if it has a structural link specifically established for the sole purpose of the implementation of the action in the case of so-called “sole applicants” or “sole beneficiaries”. A sole applicant or a sole beneficiary is a legal entity formed by several entities (a group of entities) which together comply with the criteria for being awarded the grant. For example, an association is formed by its members.

What is not an affiliated entity?

 

The following are not considered entities affiliated to an applicant:

 

- Entities that have entered into a (procurement) contract or subcontract with an applicant, act as concessionaires or delegatees for public services for an applicant,

- Entities that receive financial support from an applicant,

- Entities that cooperate on a regular basis with an applicant on the basis of a memorandum of understanding or share some assets,

- Entities that have signed a consortium agreement under the grant contract (unless this consortium agreement leads to the creation of a "sole applicant" as described above).

 

How to verify the existence of the required link with an applicant?

 

The affiliation resulting from control may in particular be proved on the basis of the consolidated accounts of the group of entities the applicant and its proposed affiliates belong to.

The affiliation resulting from membership may in particular be proved on the basis of the statutes or equivalent act establishing the entity (network, federation, association) which the applicant constitutes or in which the applicant participates.

If the applicants are awarded a grant contract, their affiliated entity(ies) will not become beneficiary(ies) of the action and signatory(ies) of the grant contract. However, they will participate in the design and in the implementation of the action and the costs they incur (including those incurred for implementation contracts and financial support to third parties) may be accepted as eligible costs, provided they comply with all the relevant rules already applicable to the beneficiary(ies) under the grant contract.

Affiliated entity(ies) must satisfy the same eligibility criteria as the lead applicant and the co-applicant(s). They must sign the affiliated entity(ies) statement in Annex A.2., section 5.


 

2.1.3 Associates and Contractors

The following entities are not applicants nor affiliated entities and do not have to sign the "mandate for co-applicant(s)" or "affiliated entities' statement":

• Associates

Other organisations or individuals may be involved in the action. Such associates play a real role in the action but may not receive funding from the grant, with the exception of per diem or travel costs. Associates do not have to meet the eligibility criteria referred to in section 2.1.1. Associates must be mentioned in Annex A.2., section 6 — ‘Associates participating in the action’.

• Contractors

The beneficiaries and their affiliated entities are permitted to award contracts. Associates or affiliated entity(ies) cannot be also contractors in the project. Contractors are subject to the procurement rules set out in Annex IV to the standard grant contract.

2.1.4 Eligible actions: actions for which an application may be made

Definition

An action is composed of a set of activities.

Duration

The initial planned duration of an action may not be lower than 24 months nor exceed 30 months.

Sectors or themes

In accordance with the overall objectives and priorities set out in Section 1.2, all actions financed under this Call for Proposals must be coherent and designed to promote: 1) a participative approach of CSOs and BSOs in the policy design, implementation and monitoring of DCFTA and SME related areas; 2) stronger BSOs able to help Georgian SMEs to gradually adapt to a new regulatory environment and to expand their networks; and 3) strengthened voice and credibility of both CSOs and BSOs thanks to better coordination and cooperation among themselves and with the Government.

Location

Actions must take place in the following country: Georgia.

The different selected projects must guarantee the most balanced geographical distribution possible on the Georgian territory.

Types of action

Lot 1

• Monitoring of DCFTA and SME legislation and implementation;

• Elaboration of valuable policy recommendations on DCFTA and SME strategy implementation, with impact on Georgian population;

• Elaboration of sectoral and trade studies;

• Actions to strengthen CSOs engagement in public-private dialogue;

• Design DCFTA/SME communication campaigns.

 

Lot 2

• Monitoring of DCFTA and SME legislation and implementation;

• Elaboration of valuable policy recommendations on DCFTA and SME strategy implementation, with impact on Georgian businesses and population;

• Design of dedicated DCFTA-oriented services to business members;

• Elaboration of national sectoral strategies;

• Actions to strengthen BSOs engagement in public-private dialogue;

• Design DCFTA/SME communication campaigns;

• Actions to improve the engagement of BSOs in EU programmes supporting SMEs.

The following types of action are ineligible (for both lots):

• actions concerned only or mainly with individual sponsorships for participation in workshops, seminars, conferences and congresses;

• actions concerned only or mainly with individual scholarships for studies or training courses;

• actions concerned only or mainly with construction, procurement of works or supplies.

Types of activity

The list is not exhaustive and other types of activities may also be considered for funding provided they are in accordance with the requirements as set out in these guidelines.

- Drafting/reviewing of policy and/or legislation on DCFTA and SME related issues;

- Contribution to the elaboration of national sectoral strategies and action plans;

- Policy recommendations on specific economic/trade sectors relevant for the population and for Georgian business community/SMEs;

- Monitoring/evaluation of the implementation of DCFTA and SME strategy;

- Training courses;

- Studies and researches; opinion surveys; publication of manuals, leaflets, newsletters on best practices;

- Activities for the institutionalisation of the consultation mechanism between civil society, business associations and national and local public institutions/authorities;

- Activities to improve the coordination between business/sectoral associations, at central and local level;

- Promoting innovative cooperation approaches;

- Joint activities with public institutions, academia, business clusters, etc ..

- Linkages with EU related programmes and platforms;

- Organisation of community activities, conferences, workshops and seminars. However conferences can only be funded if they form part of a wider range of activities to be implemented over the lifetime of the project.

- Guidance and awareness actions aiming at improving the understanding of DCFTA and SME development policies;

- Public communication activities (TV, radio programs, websites and blogs).

The applicants are encouraged to include activities that are gender sensitive (i.e. to what extent gender equality issues have been taken into account and incorporated in the project methodology) and that address the most vulnerable groups (i.e. to what extent vulnerable groups like women and young entrepreneurs, returned migrants, IDPs, minorities, etc. are incorporated in the project methodology). This is to ensure that vulnerable groups are targeted by actions to equip them with knowledge on DCFTA and SME related policies and laws.

Financial support to third parties

Applicants may propose financial support to third parties.

Applicants may propose financial support to third parties in order to help achieving the objectives of the action.

The maximum amount of financial support per third party is EUR 60 000.

Under this call, financial support to third parties may not be the main purpose of the action.

In compliance with the present guidelines and notably of any conditions or restrictions in this section, the lead applicant should define mandatorily in section 2.1.1 of the grant application form:

(i) the objectives and results to be obtained with the financial support

(ii) the different types of activities eligible for financial support, on the basis of a fixed list

(iii) the types of persons or categories of persons which may receive financial support

(iv) the criteria for selecting these entities and giving the financial support

(v) the criteria for determining the exact amount of financial support for each third entity, and

(vi) the maximum amount which may be given.

In all events, the mandatory conditions set above for giving financial support (points (i) to (vi)) have to be strictly defined in the grant contract as to avoid any exercise of discretion.

Visibility

The applicants must take all necessary steps to publicise the fact that the European Union has financed or co-financed the action. As far as possible, actions that are wholly or partially funded by the European Union must incorporate information and communication activities designed to raise the awareness of specific or general audiences of the reasons for the action and the EU support for the action in the country or region concerned, as well as the results and the impact of this support.

Applicants must comply with the objectives and priorities and guarantee the visibility of the EU financing (see the Communication and Visibility Manual for EU external actions specified and published by the European Commission at https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/communication-and-visibility-manual-eu-external-actions_en).

Number of applications and grants per applicants / affiliated entities

The lead applicant may not submit more than one application per lot under this call for proposals.

The lead applicant may not be awarded more than one grant(s) per lot under this call for proposals.

The lead applicant may be a co-applicant or an affiliated entity in another application of the same lot at the same time.

A co-applicant/affiliated entity may submit more than one application per lot under this call for proposals.

A co-applicant/affiliated entity may be awarded more than one grant per lot under this call for proposals.

2.1.5 Eligibility of costs: costs that can be included

Only ‘eligible costs’ can be covered by a grant. The categories of costs that are eligible and non-eligible are indicated below. The budget is both a cost estimate and an overall ceiling for ‘eligible costs’.

The reimbursement of eligible costs may be based on any or a combination of the following forms:

− actual costs incurred by the beneficiary(ies) and affiliated entity(ies)

− one or more simplified cost options.

Simplified cost options may take the form of:

unit costs: covering all or certain specific categories of eligible costs which are clearly identified in advance by reference to an amount per unit.

lump sums: covering in global terms all or certain specific categories of eligible costs which are clearly identified in advance.

flat-rate financing: covering specific categories of eligible costs which are clearly identified in advance by applying a percentage fixed ex ante.

The amounts or rates have to be based on estimates using objective data such as statistical data or any other objective means or with reference to certified or auditable historical data of the applicants or the affiliated entity(ies). The methods used to determine the amounts or rates of unit costs, lump sums or flat-rates must comply with the criteria established in Annex K, and especially ensure that the costs correspond fairly to the actual costs incurred by the beneficiary(ies) and affiliated entity(ies), are in line with their accounting practices, no profit is made and the costs are not already covered by other sources of funding (no double funding). Refer to Annex K for directions and a checklist of controls to assess the minimum necessary conditions that provide reasonable assurance for the acceptance of the proposed amounts.

Applicants proposing this form of reimbursement, must clearly indicate in worksheet no.1 of Annex B, each heading/item of eligible costs concerned by this type of financing, i.e. add the reference in capital letters to "UNIT COST" (per month/flight etc), "LUMPSUM" or "FLAT RATE" in the Unit column. (see example in Annex K)

Additionally in Annex B, in the second column of worksheet no.2, "Justification of the estimated costs" per each of the corresponding budget item or heading applicants must:

− describe the information and methods used to establish the amounts of unit costs, lump sums and/or flat-rates, to which costs they refer, etc.

− clearly explain the formulas for calculation of the final eligible amount

− identify the beneficiary who will use the simplified cost option (in case of affiliated entity, specify first the beneficiary), in order to verify the maximum amount per each beneficiary (which includes if applicable simplified cost options of its affiliated entity(ies))

At contracting phase, the Contracting Authority decides whether to accept the proposed amounts or rates on the basis of the provisional budget submitted by the applicants, by analysing factual data of grants carried out by the applicants or of similar actions and by performing checks established by Annex K.

The total amount of financing on the basis of simplified cost options that can be authorised by the Contracting Authority for any of the applicants individually (including simplified cost options proposed by their own affiliated entities) cannot exceed EUR 60 000 (the indirect costs are not taken into account).

Recommendations to award a grant are always subject to the condition that the checks preceding the signing of the grant contract do not reveal problems requiring changes to the budget (such as arithmetical errors, inaccuracies, unrealistic costs and ineligible costs). The checks may give rise to requests for clarification and may lead the Contracting Authority to impose modifications or reductions to address such mistakes or inaccuracies. It is not possible to increase the grant or the percentage of EU co-financing as a result of these corrections.

It is therefore in the applicants' interest to provide a realistic and cost-effective budget


 

The simplified cost option may also take the form of an apportionment of Field Office's costs.

Field Office means a local infrastructure set up in one of the countries where the action is implemented or a nearby country. (Where the action is implemented in several third countries there can be more than one Field Office). That may consist of costs for local office as well as human resources.

A Field Office may be exclusively dedicated to the action financed (or co-financed) by the EU or may be used for other projects implemented in the partner country. When the Field Office is used for other projects, only the portion of capitalised and operating costs which corresponds to the duration of the action and the rate of actual use of the field office for the purpose of the action may be declared as eligible direct costs.

The portion of costs attributable to the action can be declared as actual costs or determined by the beneficiary(ies) on the basis of a simplified allocation method (apportionment).

The method of allocation has to be:

1. Compliant with the beneficiary's usual accounting and management practices and applied in a consistent manner regardless of the source of funding and

2. Based on an objective, fair and reliable allocation keys. (Please refer to Annex K to have examples of acceptable allocation keys).

A description prepared by the entity of the allocation method used to determine Field Office's costs in accordance with the entity's usual cost accounting and management practices and explaining how the method satisfy condition 1 and 2 indicated above, has to be presented in a separate sheet and annexed to the Budget.

The method will be assessed and accepted by the evaluation committee and the Contracting Authority at contracting phase. The applicant is invited to submit (where relevant) the list of contracts to which the methodology proposed had been already applied and for which proper application was confirmed by an expenditure verification.

At the time of carrying out the expenditure verifications, the auditors will check if the costs reported are compliant with the method described by the beneficiary(ies) and accepted by the Contracting Authority.

Adequate record and documentation must be kept by the beneficiary(ies) to prove the compliance of the simplified allocation method used with the conditions set out above. Upon request of the beneficiary(ies), this compliance can be assessed and approved ex-ante by an independent external auditor. In such a case, the simplified allocation method will be automatically accepted by the evaluation committee and it will not be challenged ex post.

When costs are declared on the basis of such allocation method the amount charged to the action is to be indicated in the column "TOTAL COSTS" and the mention "APPORTIONMENT" is to be indicated in the column "units" (under budget heading 1 (Human resources) and 4 (Local Office) of the Budget).

It has to be noted that the EUR 60.000 limit, otherwise applicable to costs declared on the basis of simplified cost options, is not relevant for costs declared following apportionment of Field Offices.


 

Eligible direct costs

To be eligible under this call for proposals, costs must comply with the provisions of Article 14 of the General Conditions to the standard grant contract (see Annex G of the guidelines).

Contingency reserve

The budget may include a contingency reserve not exceeding 5 % of the estimated direct eligible costs. It can only be used with the prior written authorisation of the Contracting Authority.

Eligible indirect costs

The indirect costs incurred in carrying out the action may be eligible for flat-rate funding, but the total must not exceed 7 % of the estimated total eligible direct costs. Indirect costs are eligible provided that they do not include costs assigned to another budget heading in the standard grant contract. The lead applicant may be asked to justify the percentage requested before the grant contract is signed. However, once the flat rate has been fixed in the Special Conditions of the grant contract, no supporting documents need to be provided.

If any of the applicants or affiliated entity(ies) is in receipt of an operating grant financed by the EU, it may not claim indirect costs on its incurred costs within the proposed budget for the action.

Contributions in kind

Contributions in kind mean the provision of goods or services to a beneficiaries or affiliated entities free of charge by a third party. As contributions in kind do not involve any expenditure for beneficiaries or affiliated entities, they are not eligible costs.

Contributions in kind may not be treated as co-financing.

However, if the description of the action as proposed includes contributions in kind, the contributions have to be made.

Ineligible costs

The following costs are not eligible:

− debts and debt service charges (interest);

− provisions for losses or potential future liabilities;

− costs declared by the beneficiary(ies) and financed by another action or work programme receiving a European Union (including through EDF) grant;

− purchases of land or buildings, except where necessary for the direct implementation of the action, in which case ownership must be transferred, in accordance with Article 7.5 of the General Conditions of the standard grant contract, at the latest at the end of the action;

− currency exchange losses;

− credit to third parties;

− salary costs of the personnel of national administrations/local authorities.

 



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