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In Prospect 151894 - Media Professionalism Programme 2015 - Montenegro
Deadline: 29 Aug 2016   CALL EXPIRED

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1    Media Professionalism Programme 2015

1.1    Background

The European Commission developed the Guidelines to support media freedom and media integrity in enlargement countries in the period 2014-2020.  This strategic approach is supported by financial and technical assistance through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance that will address three overarching areas: 

a)    the enabling environment for free expression and media;

b)    strengthening journalists and media professionals as the key drivers of the needed change; 

c)    helping media outlets improve their internal governance, thus making them more resilient against external pressures and restoring audience’s confidence in them. 

However there are concerns about deteriorating conditions for the full exercise of freedom of expression and growing trend of self-censorship which affect the development of professional and investigative journalism.

Media freedoms and professional journalism need to be strengthened and supported to help citizens to protect their rights to the freedom of expression and information. The media content in Montenegro has deteriorated in quality and there is a noticeable lack of media content that properly tackles common democratic principles such as transparency, good governance and the rule of law. The economic crisis in Montenegro has led to the reduction of the resources for established journalists and media. This further increased the pressure on professional journalism in the country, and has led to a lack of important stories. Montenegro's European Integration requires an informed public about all EU Integration matters alongside the chapters which are and will be negotiated. The strengthening of the code of ethics for the media is a prerequisite to better the overall quality of reporting and to inform citizens of their rights. Assistance to the business models of media companies is meant to strengthen their long-term sustainability

1.2    Objectives of the programme and priority issues 

The global objective of this call for proposals is to improve conditions for quality journalism including modern/innovative approaches to increase quality and credibility of investigative journalism.

The specific objective(s) of this call for proposals is to support quality media production in the areas related to Montenegro's European Integration and to enable media to report fairly, freely and in a professional and ethical manner while the ability of Montenegro's journalists to use investigative techniques are meant to be further strengthened. At the same time the citizens are meant to be further educated about their rights in the context of the Code of Ethics to strengthen implementation while the economic models of media enterprises should be strengthened. 

This Call for Proposals should lead to the following results:

a)    Media content of public interest and fully in line with the Code of Ethics related to Montenegro's European Integration produced;

b)    Increased professional capacities of media and journalists on investigative reporting which can be measured through the number of stories and articles published that are based on acknowledged investigative reporting techniques;

c)    Increased awareness of the general public on the code of ethics for the media.

d)    Assistance to the local media provided in terms of their business models, work plans;

The priorities of this call for proposal are the following:

     P1    strengthening investigative reporting

     P2   strengthening EU affairs reporting

      P3  supporting the Code of Ethics

An application must cover at least one of these priorities 

1.3    Financial allocation provided by the contracting authority

The overall indicative amount made available under this call for proposals is EUR 500,000.  The Contracting Authority reserves the right not to award all available funds.

Size of grants

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

ï    minimum amount: EUR 75,000

ï    maximum amount: EUR 125,000

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

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

ï    Maximum percentage: 90 % 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:

ï    The lead applicant, i.e. the entity submitting the concept note and the full application form (2.1.1),

ï    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 the "applicants") (2.1.1), 

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

(2)    the actions:

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

(3)    the costs:

ï    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:

ï    be a legal person established in Montenegro and

o    be either a media (print media, electronic media (radio or TV) including public broadcasters, on-line media, media production company),

o    or a media professional association

o    or a media training organisation

o    or a journalist association 

o    or a civil society organisation and 

ï    be registered as a legal entity for a minimum of two years and

ï    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. 

 

(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 may act individually or with co-applicant(s) as specified hereafter: 

The partnerships occurring under this call may be possible to all eligible entities. Partnerships of media or media associations as lead applicants with a civil society organisation as the co-applicant are the prime target group of this call. Media may also partner with another media outlet without the involvement of a civil society organisation. Due to the overall experience of civil society organisations in managing grants funded by the EU an involvement of CSOs is recommended, applications of media outlets without a co-applicant are however also possible. 

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.

In addition to the categories referred to in section 2.1.1, the following are however also eligible: 

ï    be a legal person established in a Member State of the European Union or in a country covered by the Article 10 of the IPA Regulation and

o    be either a media (print media, electronic media (radio or TV) including public broadcasters, on-line media, media production company),

o    or a media professional association

o    or a media training organisation

o    or a journalist association 

o    or a civil society organisation 

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

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":

ï    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 4 — ‘Associates participating in the action’.

ï    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 12 months nor exceed 18 months.

Sectors or themes

Specific sectors or themes to which the actions must relate ( one of the categories needs to be reflected in the application, not necessarily all of them at the same time, applicants may thus chose an area to which they wish to relate to. However, combining all elements in one proposal is also not excluded):

a) Strengthening of the content of reporting and in particular investigative reporting

The actions must relate to the strengthening of investigative reporting and in depth-reporting on issues related to chapters of the EU acquis and Montenegro's European integration process in general. This can entail for instance the development of journalistic stories based on the findings of the annual Report on Montenegro which is part of the so called Enlargement package, formerly called Progress Report.  

Applicants are free to limit themselves in their application to a specific chapter like chapter 23 or 24 which are at the heart of the negotiation process but may as well select a different chapter and also individual topics from the overall set of priorities in the EU Integration process. This can entail as well topics like public administration reform, economic governance, environmental protection, education and employment, public finance management. For a full list of the negotiation chapters see here: 

http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/policy/conditions-membership/chapters-of-the-acquis/index_en.htm

Applicants may also relate themselves to several chapters and topics at the same time but are not obliged to do so. It is also possible to relate the reporting primarily on the Report on Montenegro. The overall aim should be to improve the overall reporting and general understanding of the issues while keeping the authorities accountable to their tasks in the EU Integration process. At the same time the level of professionalism in the media should be strengthened. 

A comparison with the state of play of the EU integration process in other candidate countries can be foreseen as well and is very much encouraged. 

Lead Applicants may draw on the resources and expertise of respected international media training organisations from EU member states to strengthen their reporting and understanding of investigative reporting techniques, in particular to train staff not necessarily in reporting skills but rather in investigation and research techniques. This can entail the analysis of balance sheets of companies, the study of anti-corruption legislation and its application in Montenegro. Training on legislative procedures, the court system, more detailed mechanisms of environmental protection, improvements in the public administration sector etc. Applicants need to demonstrate in their application clearly how the project is going to aim to strengthen the capacities of their respective media outlet in terms of investigative reporting. There should be a clear outline of what the project will do in raising the professional standards of the respective media outlet. 

All reporting will have to adhere to the acknowledged principles of the Code of Ethics of the Montenegrin media. Project applications will have to demonstrate a workflow model that ensures that the editorial content produced under this project will be fully in line with the Code of Ethics as well as data protection laws. At the same time the project is meant to foster further the reporting on difficult topics of general public interest – in particular in relation to Montenegro's EU integration process.  

b) Promotion of the Code of Ethics 

In order to enable the citizens to know more about the Code of Ethics promotional campaigns in the media and lectures to journalists about the content of the code are also part of the eligible actions. Any action which helps to implement the Code of Ethics and to raise the awareness about it is eligible under this call. 

c) Support for business models

Media outlets may gather further expertise from foreign news organisations, business consultancies, market research agencies and media experts from EU member states to advise them on their internal work plans, internal management, internal governance and labour regulations. Research on the overall market situation and feasibility studies for new media products can be funded as well. This is meant to make media companies economically stronger. 

Location

Actions should take place in Montenegro. Should the activities described in the project proposal involve investigative work, recording or similar activities in countries outside of Montenegro, the expenses incurred in this way shall be considered eligible and such activities deemed appropriate. The focus of actions should be inside Montenegro. 

Types of activity

Types of activities which may be financed under this call for proposals:

(i)    Production and development of new electronic and multimedia productions;

(ii)    Series of documentaries, docudrama and TV films;

(iii)    Print productions such as reports, new columns, and series of articles or features;

(iv)    Analytical and investigative journalism trainings for Montenegrin media  that include media productions covering specific sector/themes relevant to this Call for Proposals;

(v)    Educational and awareness raising campaigns on the Code of Ethics for the media; 

(vi)    Business training and management advice for running media businesses from EU member states; 

The following types of action are ineligible:

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

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

Financial support to third parties 

Applicants may not propose financial support to third parties.

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 under this call for proposals as a lead applicant but may participate as a co-applicant in a second proposal.

The lead applicant may thus not be awarded more than one grant under this call for proposal as a lead applicant.

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

A co-applicant/affiliated entity may not be the co-applicant or affiliated entity in more than one application under this call for proposals.

A co-applicant/affiliated entity may be awarded more than one grant under this call for proposals in case he is also successful lead applicant in a second application.

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).

 

 

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.

2.2    How to apply and the procedures to follow

To apply for this call for proposals, lead applicants need to:

I.    Provide information about the organisations involved in the action. Please note that the registration of this data in PADOR is obligatory for all lead applicants, co-applicant(s) and affiliated entitiy(ies).

PADOR is an on-line database in which organisations register and update information concerning their entity. Organisations registered in PADOR get a unique ID (EuropeAid ID), which they must mention in their application. PADOR is accessible via the website: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/pador_en.

II.    Provide information about the action in the documents listed under section 2.2.2. Online submission via PROSPECT is obligatory for this call.

It is strongly recommended to register in PADOR well in advance and not to wait until the last minute before the deadline to submit your application in PROSPECT

If it is impossible for the organisation to register online in PADOR for technical reasons, applicants and/or affiliated entity(ies) must complete the ‘PADOR off-line form attached to these guidelines. This form must be sent together with the application, by the submission deadline (see section 2.2.2.).

Before starting using PADOR and PROSPECT, please read the user guides available on the website. All technical questions related to the use of these systems should be addressed to the IT helpdesk at EuropeAid-IT-support@ec.europa.eu via the online support form in PROSPECT.

2.2.1    Application forms  

Applications must be submitted in accordance with the instructions on the grant application form annexed to these guidelines (Annexes A.1 and A.2). Applicants must apply in English. 

Any error or major discrepancy related to the concept note or any major inconsistency in the application form (e.g. if the amounts in the budget worksheets are inconsistent) may lead to the rejection of the application.

Clarifications will only be requested when the information provided is not sufficient to conduct an objective assessment.

 

2.2.2    Where and how to send applications

Online submission:

Applications must be submitted online via PROSPECT https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/prospect following the instructions given in the PROSPECT user manual.

Upon submission of the application online, the lead applicant will receive an automatic confirmation of receipt in its PROSPECT profile. 

If it is impossible for the organisation to submit its application online via PROSPECT for technical reasons, the applicant must send its application in a sealed envelope (Annex A.1: concept note and Annex A.2.: full application form), budget and logical framework. In particular, the lead applicant must send, in a sealed envelope as described below the following items: 

a. One original signed copy of the complete application form (Annex A.1: concept note and Annex A.2: full application form), the budget and logical framework. The declaration by the lead applicant (Annex A.2., section 8 of the full form) must be stapled separately and enclosed in the envelope

b. 2 additional copies in A4 size, each bound.

c. An electronic version  CD-ROM or memory stick of the items under point a). The electronic file must contain exactly the same application as the paper version enclosed. 

The outer envelope must bear the reference number and the title of the call for proposals, together with the full name and address of the lead applicant, and the words ‘Not to be opened before the opening session’ and ‘Ne otvarati prije zvanicnog sastanka za otvaranje prijava projekata’.

To reduce expense and waste, we strongly recommend that you do not use plastic folders or dividers. Please also use double-sided printing if possible.

Applications must be submitted in a sealed envelope by registered mail, private courier service or by hand-delivery (a signed and dated certificate of receipt will be given to the deliverer) at the address below. Where a lead applicant sends several different applications (if allowed to do so by the guidelines of the call), each one has to be sent separately:

Address for post, courier service, hand delivery 

Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro 

Finance, Contracts and Audit Section

Vuka Karadzica 12

81000 Podgorica

Montenegro

Applications sent by any other means (e.g. by fax or by e-mail) or delivered to other addresses will be rejected. Hand-written applications will not be accepted.

Please note that incomplete applications may be rejected. Lead applicants are advised to verify that their application is complete using the checklist (Annexes A.1 and A.2, Instructions).

2.2.3    Deadline for submission of applications

The deadline for the submission of applications is 29 August 2016 16.00 hours Brussels time. In order to convert this deadline to local time you can use any online time converter tool that takes into account time zones and winter/summer time changes (example available here). Lead applicants are strongly advised not to wait until the last day to submit their applications, since heavy Internet traffic or a fault with the Internet connection (including electricity failure, etc.) could lead to difficulties in submission. The contacting authority cannot be held responsible for any delay due to such aforementioned difficulties.

Any application submitted after the deadline will be rejected.

2.2.4    Further information about applications 

An information session on this call for proposals will be held on 8th of June at 14.00 hours at the EU Information Centre in Podgorica, located in 19th of December street.  

Questions may be sent by e-mail no later than 21 days before the deadline for the submission of applications to the address(es) below, indicating clearly the reference of the call for proposals:

E-mail address: DELEGATION-MONTENEGRO-FCS@eeas.europa.eu

The Contracting Authority has no obligation to provide clarifications to questions received after this date.

Replies will be given no later than 11 days before the deadline for the submission of applications. 

To ensure equal treatment of applicants, the Contracting Authority cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of lead applicants, co-applicants, affiliated entity(ies), an action or specific activities.

No individual replies will be given to questions. All questions and answers as well as other important notices to applicants during the course of the evaluation procedure will be published on the EuropeAid website: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/online-services/index.cfm?do=publi.welcome and the website of the EU Delegation to Montenegro.  It is therefore advisable to consult the abovementioned website regularly in order to be informed of the questions and answers published.

All questions related to registration in PADOR or the online submission via PROSPECT should be addressed to the IT helpdesk at EuropeAid-IT-support@ec.europa.eu via the online support form in PROSPECT: Please note that the working languages of the IT support are English, French and Spanish. Therefore, users are invited to send their questions in those languages should they wish to benefit from an optimum response time.

2.3    Evaluation and selection of applications

Applications will be examined and evaluated by the contracting authority with the possible assistance of external assessors. All applications will be assessed according to the following steps and criteria.

If the examination of the application reveals that the proposed action does not meet the eligibility criteria stated in section 2.1, the application will be rejected on this sole basis.

STEP 1: OPENING & ADMINISTRATIVE CHECKS AND CONCEPT NOTE EVALUATION

During the opening and administrative check (including the eligibility check of the action), the following will be assessed:

ï    If the deadline has been met. Otherwise, the application will be automatically rejected.

ï    If the concept note satisfies all the criteria specified in the checklist in the instructions included in Annex A.1. This also includes an assessment of the eligibility of the action. If any of the requested information is missing or is incorrect, the application may be rejected on that sole basis and the application will not be evaluated further.

The concept notes that pass this check will be evaluated on the relevance and design of the proposed action.

The concept notes will receive an overall score out of 50 in line with the evaluation grid below. The evaluation will also check the compliance with the instructions on how to complete the concept note (Annex A.1).

The evaluation criteria are divided into headings and subheadings. Each subheading will be given a score between 1 and 5 as follows: 1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = adequate; 4 = good; 5 = very good.

Evaluation Grid

Section

Maximum Score

1. Relevance of the action

30

1.1. How relevant is the proposal to the objectives and priorities of the Call for Proposals?*

5x2**

1.2. How relevant to the particular needs and constraints of the target country(ies) or region(s) is the proposal (including synergy with other EU initiatives and avoidance of duplication)?*

5x2**

1.3. How clearly defined and strategically chosen are those involved (final beneficiaries, target groups)? Have their needs been clearly defined and does the proposal address them appropriately?*

5

1.4. Does the proposal contain specific added-value elements, such as environmental issues, promotion of gender equality and equal opportunities, needs of disabled people, rights of minorities and rights of indigenous peoples, or innovation and best practices and the other additional elements indicated under 1.2 of these guidelines (priorities)*

5

2. Design of the action

20

2.1. How coherent is the overall design of the action? In particular, does it reflect the analysis of the problems involved, take into account external factors and relevant stakeholders?

5x2**

2.2. Is the action feasible and consistent in relation to the objectives and expected results?

5x2**

Maximum total score

50

* Note: A score of 5 (very good) will only be allocated if the proposal specifically addresses more than the required minimum number of priorities as indicated in section 1.2 (objectives of the programme) of these guidelines.

**these scores are multiplied by 2 because of their importance

 

Concept notes with a score lower than 30 will be rejected

Concept notes that reach the above threshold will be ranked by score. The highest scoring applications will be pre-selected until the limit of at least 200% of the available budget for this call for proposals is reached. 

Lead applicants will receive a letter indicating the reference number of their application and the respective results. This letter will automatically appear online in the PROSPECT profile of the lead applicant. 

The evaluation committee will then proceed with the lead applicants whose proposals have been pre-selected.

STEP 2: EVALUATION OF THE FULL APPLICATION 

Firstly, the following will be assessed:

ï    If the full application form satisfies all the criteria specified in the checklist in Annex A.2. If any of the requested information is missing or is incorrect, the application may be rejected on that sole basis and the application will not be evaluated further.

The full applications that pass this check will be further evaluated on their quality, including the proposed budget and the capacity of the applicants and affiliated entity(ies). The evaluation criteria used are presented in the evaluation grid below. There are two types of evaluation criteria: selection and award criteria.

The selection criteria help to evaluate the applicant(s)'s and affiliated entity(ies)'s operational capacity and the lead applicant's financial capacity and are used to verify that they:

ï    have stable and sufficient sources of finance to maintain their activity throughout the proposed action and, where appropriate, to participate in its funding (this only applies to lead applicants);

ï    have the management capacity, professional competencies and qualifications required to successfully complete the proposed action. This applies to applicants and to any affiliated entity(ies).

For the purpose of the evaluation of the financial capacity, lead applicants must ensure that the relevant information and documents (i.e. accounts of the latest financial year and external audit report, where applicable) in their PADOR profile are up to date. If the information and documents in PADOR are outdated and do not allow for a proper evaluation of the financial capacity, the application may be rejected.

The award criteria help to evaluate the quality of the applications in relation to the objectives and priorities set forth in the guidelines, and to award grants to projects which maximise the overall effectiveness of the call for proposals. They help to select applications which the Contracting Authority can be confident will comply with its objectives and priorities. They cover the relevance of the action, its consistency with the objectives of the call for proposals, quality, expected impact, sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

The evaluation grid is divided into sections and subsections. Each subsection will be given a score between 1 and 5 as follows: 1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = adequate; 4 = good; 5 = very good. 

Evaluation Grid

Section

Maximum Score

1. Financial and operational capacity

20

1.1. Do the applicants and, if applicable, their affiliated entity(ies) have sufficient experience of project management?

5

1.2. Do the applicants and, if applicable, their affiliated entity(ies) have sufficient technical expertise (especially knowledge of the issues to be addressed)?

5

1.3. Do the applicants and, if applicable, their affiliated entity(ies) have sufficient management capacity (including staff, equipment and ability to handle the budget for the action)?

5

1.4. Does the lead applicant have stable and sufficient sources of finance?

5

2. Relevance of the action

30

2.1. How relevant is the proposal to the objectives and priorities of the Call for Proposals?

5x2**

2.2. How relevant to the particular needs and constraints of the target country(ies) or region(s) is the proposal (including synergy with other EU initiatives and avoidance of duplication)?

5x2**

2.3. How clearly defined and strategically chosen are those involved (final beneficiaries, target groups)? Have their needs been clearly defined and does the proposal address them appropriately?

5

2.4. Does the proposal contain specific added-value elements, such as environmental issues, promotion of gender equality and equal opportunities, needs of disabled people, rights of minorities and rights of indigenous peoples, or innovation and best practices and the other additional elements indicated under 1.2. of these guidelines ?

5

3. Effectiveness and feasibility of the action

20

3.1. Are the activities proposed appropriate, practical, and consistent with the objectives and expected results?

5

3.2. Is the action plan clear and feasible?

5

3.3. Does the proposal contain objectively verifiable indicators for the outcome of the action? Is any evaluation planned?

5

3.4. Is the co-applicant(s)'s and affiliated entity(ies)'s level of involvement and participation in the action satisfactory?

5

4. Sustainability of the action

15

4.1. Is the action likely to have a tangible impact on its target groups?

5

4.2. Is the proposal likely to have multiplier effects (including scope for replication, extension and information sharing)?

5

4.3. Are the expected results of the proposed action sustainable?:(1) financially (how will the activities be financed after the funding ends?)(2) institutionally (will structures allowing the activities to continue be in place at the end of the action? Will there be local 'ownership' of the results of the action?)(3) at policy level (where applicable) (what will be the structural impact of the action — e.g. will it lead to improved legislation, codes of conduct, methods, etc?)(4) environmentally (if applicable) (will the action have a negative/positive environmental impact?)"

5

5. Budget and cost-effectiveness of the action

15

5.1. Are the activities appropriately reflected in the budget?

5

5.2. Is the ratio between the estimated costs and the expected results satisfactory?

10

Maximum total score

100

 

If the total score for section 1 (financial and operational capacity) is less than 12 points, the application will be rejected. If the score for at least one of the subsections under section 1 is 1, the application will also be rejected.

If the lead applicant applies without co-applicants or affiliated entities the score for point 3.4 shall be 5 unless the involvement of co-applicants or affiliated entities is mandatory according to these guidelines for applicants.  

After the evaluation, applications will be ranked according to their score. The highest scoring applications will be provisionally selected until the available budget for this call for proposals is reached.

In addition, a reserve list will be drawn up following the same criteria. This list will be used if more funds become available during the validity period of the reserve list.

STEP 3: VERIFICATION OF ELIGIBILITY OF THE APPLICANTS AND AFFILIATED ENTITY(IES)

The eligibility verification will be performed on the basis of the supporting documents requested by the Contracting Authority (see section 2.4). It will only be performed for the applications that have been provisionally selected according to their score and within the available budget for this call for proposals. 

ï    The declaration by the lead applicant (Annex A.2, section 5) will be cross-checked with the supporting documents provided by the lead applicant. Any missing supporting document or any incoherence between the declaration by the lead applicant and the supporting documents may lead to the rejection of the application on that sole basis. 

ï    The eligibility of applicants and the affiliated entity(ies) will be verified according to the criteria set out in sections 2.1.1, 2.1.2 and 2.1.3.

Any rejected application will be replaced by the next best placed application on the reserve list that falls within the available budget for this call for proposals. 

2.4    Submission of supporting documents for provisionally selected applications 

A lead applicant whose application has been provisionally selected or placed on the reserve list will be informed in writing by the Contracting Authority. It will be requested to supply the following documents in order to allow the Contracting Authority to verify the eligibility of the lead applicant, (if any) of the co-applicant(s) and (if any) of their affiliated entity(ies):

Supporting documents must be provided through PADOR (see section 2.2.)

1.    The statutes or articles of association of the lead applicant, (if any) of each co-applicant(s) and (if any) of each affiliated entity(ies). Where the Contracting Authority has recognised the lead applicant’s, or the co-applicant(s)’s, or their affiliated entity(ies)’s eligibility for another call for proposals under the same budget line within 2 years before the deadline for receipt of applications, it should be submitted, instead of the statutes or articles of association, a copy of the document proving their eligibility in a former call (e.g. a copy of the Special Conditions of a grant contract received during the reference period), unless a change in legal status has occurred in the meantime.  This obligation does not apply to international organisations which have signed a framework agreement with the European Commission.  

2.    An external audit report produced by an approved auditor, certifying the lead applicant's accounts for the last financial year available where the total amount of the requested EU contribution exceeds EUR 750 000 (EUR 100 000 for an operating grant). The external audit report is not required from (if any) the co-applicant(s)) or affiliated entity(ies).

3.    Legal entity sheet (see Annex D of these guidelines) duly completed and signed by each of the applicants (i,e by the lead applicant and (if any) by each co-applicant(s), accompanied by the justifying documents requested there. If the applicants have already signed a contract with the Contracting Authority, instead of the legal entity sheet and supporting documents, the legal entity number may be provided, unless a change in legal status occurred in the meantime.

4.    A financial identification form of the lead applicant (not from co-applicant(s), nor from affiliated entity(ies)) conforming to the model attached at Annex E of these guidelines, certified by the bank to which the payments will be made. This bank should be located in the country where the lead applicant is established. If the lead applicant has already submitted a financial identification form in the past for a contract where the European Commission was in charge of the payments and intends to use the same bank account, a copy of the previous financial identification form may be provided instead.

 

The requested supporting documents (uploaded in PADOR or sent together with the PADOR offline form) must be supplied in the form of originals, photocopies or scanned versions (i.e. showing legible stamps, signatures and dates) of the said originals

Where such documents are not in one of the official languages of the European Union, a translation into English of the relevant parts of these documents proving the lead applicant's and, where applicable, co-applicants' and affiliated entity(ies)' eligibility, must be attached for the purpose of analysing the application.

Applicants have to take into consideration the time necessary to obtain official documents from national competent authorities and to translate such documents in the authorised languages while registering their data in PADOR.

If the abovementioned supporting documents are not provided before the deadline indicated in the request for supporting documents sent to the lead applicant by the Contracting Authority, the application may be rejected.

After verifying the supporting documents, the evaluation committee will make a final recommendation to the Contracting Authority, which will decide on the award of grants.

NB :    In the eventuality that the Contracting Authority is not satisfied with the strength, solidity, and guarantee offered by the structural link between one of the applicants and its affiliated entity, it can require the submission of the missing documents allowing for its conversion into co-applicant. If all the missing documents for co-applicants are submitted, and provided all necessary eligibility criteria are fulfilled, the above mentioned entity becomes a co-applicant for all purposes. The lead applicant has to submit the application form revised accordingly.

2.5    Notification of the Contracting Authority’s decision

2.5.1    Content of the decision

The lead applicants will be informed in writing of the Contracting Authority’s decision concerning their application and, if rejected, the reasons for the negative decision. This letter will be sent by e-mail and will appear online automatically in the PROSPECT profile of the user who submitted the application. Lead applicants who, in exceptional cases (see section 2.2), had to submit their application by post or hand-delivery will be informed by e-mail or by post if they did not provide any e-mail address. Therefore, please check regularly your PROSPECT profile, taking into account the indicative timetable below.

An applicant believing that it has been harmed by an error or irregularity during the award process may lodge a complaint. See further section 2.4.15 of the Practical Guide. 

2.5.2    Indicative timetable 

 

 

DATE

TIME

1. Information meeting (if any)

8th of June 2016

14.00

2. Deadline for requesting any clarifications from the Contracting Authority

8 August 2016

12:00

3. Last date on which clarifications are issued by the Contracting Authority

18 August  2016

12:00

4. Deadline for submission of applications

 29 August 2016

16:00

5. Information to lead applicants on opening, administrative checks and concept note evaluation  (Step 1)

29 September 2016*

-

6. Information to lead applicants on the evaluation of the full application form (Step 2)

23 October 2016*

-

7. Notification of award (after the eligibility check) (Step 3)

23 November 2016*

-

8. Contract signature

15 December 2016*

-

*Provisional date. All times are in local time.

This indicative timetable refers to provisional dates (except for dates 2, 3 and 4) and may be updated by the Contracting Authority during the procedure. In such cases, the updated timetable will be published on the EuropeAid web site     https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/online-services/index.cfm?do=publi.welcome and the website of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro. 

2.6    Conditions for implementation after the Contracting Authority’s decision to award a grant

Following the decision to award a grant, the beneficiary(ies) will be offered a contract based on the standard grant contract (see Annex G of these guidelines). By signing the application form (Annexes A.1 and A.2 of these guidelines), the lead applicant agrees, if awarded a grant, to accept the contractual conditions of the standard grant contract. Where the Coordinator is an organisation whose pillars have been positively assessed, it will sign a PA Grant Agreement based on the PAGoDA template. In this case references to provisions of the standard grant contract and its annexes shall not apply. References in these guidelines to the Grant Contract shall be understood as references to the relevant provisions of the PA Grant Agreement.

Implementation contracts

Where implementation of the action requires the beneficiary(ies) and its affiliated entity(ies) (if any) to award procurement contracts, those contracts must be awarded in accordance with Annex IV to the standard grant contract.

2.7    Early detection and exclusion system (edes) 

The applicants and, if they are legal entities, the persons who have powers of representation, decision-making or control over them, are informed that, should they be in one of the situations mentioned in section 2.3.3.1 or 2.3.3.2 of the Practical Guide their personal details (name, given name (if natural person), address, legal form and name and given name of the persons with powers of representation, decision-making or control (if legal person)) may be registered in EDES. For further information see section 2.3.3 and 2.3.4 of the Practical Guide. 

3    LIST OF annexes

Documents to be completed

Annex A:    Grant Application Form (Word format)

    A.1. Concept Note

    A.2. Full Application Form

 

Annex B:    Budget (Excel format)

Annex C:    Logical Framework (Word format)

Annex D:    Legal Entity Sheet

Annex E:    Financial identification form

DOCUMENTS FOR INFORMATION

Annex G:    Standard Grant Contract

-    Annex II:    general conditions 

-    Annex IV:    contract award rules

-    Annex V:    standard request for payment

-    Annex VI:    model narrative and financial report

- Annex VII:    model report of factual findings and terms of reference for an expenditure verification of an EU financed grant contract for external action

- Annex VIII:    model financial guarantee

- Annex IX:     standard template for transfer of ownership of assets

 

 

Annex H:    Daily allowance rates (per diem), available at the following address: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/applicable-rates-diems-framework-ec-funded-external-aid-contracts-05072013_en 

Annex J:    Information on the tax regime applicable to grant contracts signed under the call

Annex K:    Guidelines and Checklist for assessing Budget and Simplified cost options

Annex L :     e-learning :

 

https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/prospect/external/

 

 

Annex M : user manual for PROSPECT :

https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/prospect/external/

 

 

Useful links

Project Cycle Management Guidelines 

https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/aid-delivery-methods-project-cycle-management-guidelines-vol-1_en

The implementation of grant contracts - A Users' Guide

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/companion/document.do?nodeNumber=19

Financial Toolkit    

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/sites/devco/files/financial-management-toolkit-for-recipients-15112010_en.pdf

Please note: The toolkit is not part of the grant contract and has no legal value. It merely provides general guidance and may in some details differ from the signed grant contract. In order to ensure compliance with their contractual obligations, beneficiaries should not exclusively rely on the toolkit but always consult their individual contract documents.



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