1. INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND
1.1. Programme/Legal base
The legal basis of this call for proposal is the Commission Decision C(2018)66251 of 15 October 2018 on the adoption of the 2019 annual work programme for grants and procurement for DG EMPL prerogatives and specific competencies, serving as a financing decision.
1.2. Policy and economic background
EU law on employee involvement at transnational level includes recast Directive 2009/38/EC 2 on European works councils as well as Directives 2001/86/EC3 and 2003/72/EC4 on employee involvement in the European Company and the European Cooperative Society, respectively.
EU law on employee involvement at national level includes Directive 2002/14/EC5 establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees, directive 98/59/EC6 on collective redundancies and Directive 2001/23/EC7 on transfer of undertakings.
Employee involvement is also encouraged through the development of transnational company agreements8 between multinational companies and workers' representatives.
This call is published in the context of the European Pillar of Social Rights, proclaimed by the Council, Parliament and Commission in November 2017, as published at the website of the Directorate General for Employment: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=89&langId=en&newsId=9001&furtherNews=yes, and in particular its Principle 8(b) “Workers or their representatives have the right to be informed and consulted in good time on matters relevant to them, in particular on the transfer, restructuring and merger of undertakings and on collective redundancies.”
1.3. Main Purposes
The main purpose of this Call is to fund operations aimed at developing employee involvement in undertakings - meaning any mechanism, including information, consultation and participation, through which employees' representatives may exercise an influence on decisions to be taken within the company - in particular by raising awareness and contributing to the application of EU law and policies in this area and the take-up and development of European Works Councils.
This call also aims at supporting projects which seek to identify and address challenges in workers’ involvement resulting from changes in the world of work – e.g. restructuring, outsourcing /subcontracting, digitalisation / automation / artificial intelligence and new forms of work. Transnational actions involving representatives from several Member States as well as the joint participation of employers and workers shall be promoted.
2. OBJECTIVES – PRIORITIES – EXPECTED RESULTS
2.1 Objectives - Priorities
The appropriations of this Call for Proposals finance measures enabling the social partners and the social actors at company level to familiarize themselves with EU law and policies in the area of employee involvement, to exercise their rights and their duties to this regard and to work together towards the definition and implementation of concrete responses to the challenges posed to workers’ involvement. They cover in particular funding of measures aimed at strengthening transnational co-operation between workers' and employers' representatives in respect of employee involvement.
These appropriations may also be used to fund short training actions as well as actions involving representatives of social partners in the candidate countries9 in the field of employee involvement.
Measures and actions should be inclusive for vulnerable employees. In order to achieve inclusion of persons with disabilities accessibility should be ensured, for example of information, meetings, consultations, etc.
The following objectives may be supported under this Call for Proposals:
a) to promote the exchange of information and good practice and preparatory actions aimed at creating favourable conditions for the setting up of transnational information, consultation and participation bodies, in particular European Works Councils, and mechanisms arising from the application of EU law on employee involvement;
b) to promote action aiming at familiarizing the social partners and actors at company level with the content of EU law and transnational company agreements and to enable them to exercise their rights and their duties in this regard;
c) to promote transnational cooperation with a view to identifying and addressing challenges relating to worker involvement, to support the anticipation of change and the prevention and resolution of disputes in the event of various forms of restructuring in Union scale undertakings and groups of undertakings as well as workers’ involvement in the context of outsourcing, subcontracting, digitalisation / automation and new forms of work.
2.2 Type of actions
The types of activities which may be funded under this call for proposals include but are not limited to:
Information on the action for which the grant is requested
When drafting the project proposal, applicants are invited to pay particular attention to the following elements:
the proposal should provide a clear explanation of the rationale and problem definition/analysis underpinning the proposed action, as well as the specific contribution of the action to the objectives of the call for proposals and its expected impact;
in case of recurrent related applications by the same applicant, the added value of the new project as compared to previous ones should be clearly explained;
the choice of partners involved and countries covered should be duly explained and justified as regards their relevance towards the specific objectives of the action;
cost estimates should be reasonable, justified and comply with the principle of sound financial management, in particular regarding economy and efficiency. It should be noted that the cost-effectiveness of actions will be evaluated on the basis of the proposed budget. The Commission reserves the right to make corrections and/or remove non-eligible expenditure from the proposed budget, but it will not make adjustments in order to improve the cost-effectiveness of proposals;
projects shall detail a full project cycle, including preparatory, dissemination, implementation, follow-up and reporting activities.
2.4 Expected results
The expected results of this call for proposals are improved possibilities for the social partners to exercise their rights and duties as regards employee involvement; strengthened cooperation among social partners and other actors in respect to Union law on employee involvement; a follow up on the findings of the "Fitness check"10 on EU acts in the area of Information and Consultation of Workers, actions related to EU Directive on European Works Councils, in the light of the Commission’s evaluation of the implementation of this Directive,11 and an increased number of social partners and other actors familiarised with transnational company agreements.
a) Publication of the call
22 May 2019
b) Deadline for questions and requests for clarification
12 July 2019
c) Deadline for submitting proposals
22 July 2019
Swim, Courier and Post : 24:00 Brussels' time (CET)
Hand deliveries 16:00 Brussels' time (CET)
d) Evaluation period (indicative)
22 July- mid December 2019
e) Information to applicants (indicative)
f) Signature of the Grant Agreement (indicative)
g) Starting date of the action (indicative)
3.1 Starting date and duration of the projects
The actual starting date of the action will either be the first day following the date when the last of the two parties signs the Grant Agreement, the first day of the month following the date when the last of the two parties signs or a date agreed upon between the parties.
Applicants should note that if their project is selected, they may receive the Grant Agreement after the start date of the action that they have indicated in the application form. It is therefore advisable to number the months in the work programme instead of indicating the name of the months or the date.
No expenditure can be incurred before the deadline for submission of the application. Any expenditure incurred before the signature of the Grant Agreement will be at the applicant’s risk.
The indicative duration of the project should be up to 24 months.
4. AVAILABLE BUDGET AND CO-FINANCING RATE
4.1 Total budget
The total budget earmarked for the EU co-financing of projects under this call is estimated at EUR 7 103 000.
On an indicative basis, the EU grant requested should not be less than EUR 200.000.
The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.
The Commission reserves the right to increase the amount of the funds in case of available funds and distribute them to proposals admitted in the reserve list, if available. This top-up is limited to 20% of the initial budget of the call.
4.2 Co-financing rate
Under this call for proposals, the EU grant may not exceed 90% of the total eligible costs of the action. The applicants must guarantee their co-financing of the remaining amount covered by the applicants' own resources or from sources other than the European Union budget12.
Although International Organisations13 may be entitled to different co-financing provisions under their bilateral agreements with the EU, it must be noted that the rules applying to the current Call for Proposals will prevail for proposals submitted by an International Organisation.
5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
Applications must be sent no later than the deadline for submission referred to in section 3(c).
Failure to comply with the above requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.
Applicants are encouraged to submit their project proposal in English, French or German in order to facilitate the treatment of the proposals and speed up the evaluation process. It should be noted, however, that proposals will be accepted in all official languages of the EU. In this case, applications should be accompanied by an executive summary in English, French or German (checklist point 3).
6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
6.1 Eligibility of the applicants and affiliated entities14
For United Kingdom applicants: Please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU that ensures that UK applicants continue to be eligible, UK beneficiaries will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or will be required to leave the project on the basis Article II.7.2.1(a) for mono-beneficiary and Article II.17.3.1(a) for multi-beneficiary of the grant agreement.
a) Place of establishment
• Single applicants and lead applicants must be properly constituted and registered legal persons having their registered office in one of the EU Member States.
• Co-applicants must be properly constituted and registered legal persons having their registered office in one of the EU Member States or Candidate Countries.
b) Type of entities
To be eligible, single, lead and co-applicants must be:
Legal entities. In derogation from this requirement and pursuant to Article 197.2.c of the Financial Regulation, the organisations of social partners without legal personality under the applicable national law are also eligible provided that the conditions of the Financial Regulation related thereto are met15.
Representatives of workers or employers such as:
A. for workers: applicants may be works councils or similar bodies ensuring the general representation of workers; regional, national, European, sectoral or multi-sectoral trade unions;
B. for employers: applicants may be the management of undertakings, organisations representing employers at regional, national, European, sectoral or multi-sectoral level. In case of commercial undertakings, the objective of the project must be non-commercial in nature.
- As an exception applicants may also be technical bodies such as non-profit training or research bodies and commercial companies only if the aim of the project is non- commercial.
The above mentioned technical bodies and commercial undertakings will be considered eligible as lead applicants only where they are expressly mandated by one or more eligible organisations representing workers or employers and when a mandatory letter of endorsement is included (checklist point 18).
- International organisations may participate as co-applicants16. c) Consortia17
In the case of proposals not submitted by a European-level18 workers' or employers' organisation, the action must involve co-applicants, affiliated entities or associate organisations19 from more than one Member State or Candidate Country.
In order to strengthen co-operation between workers' and employers' representatives in respect of information, consultation and participation within undertakings operating in more than one Member State, projects involving only one information and consultation body should be as far as possible submitted as a joint projects from representatives of workers and employers.
For consortia, if the lead applicant is not considered to be eligible, the application will be rejected.
If a co-applicant or affiliated entity is considered not to be eligible, this organisation will be removed from the consortium and the eligibility of the modified consortium will be re- evaluated. If the modified consortium is still eligible, the application will be evaluated on that basis. In addition, the costs that are allocated to a non-eligible co-applicant or affiliated entity will be removed from the budget. If the application is accepted, the work plan will have to be adapted as appropriate.
If a single applicant is considered not eligible, the application will be rejected.
Affiliated entities and associate organisations are eligible for projects submitted by mono- applicants or consortia.
Legal entities having a legal link with applicants, which is neither limited to the action nor established for the sole purpose of its implementation and which satisfy the eligibility criteria, may take part in the action as affiliated entities, and may declare eligible costs.
For that purpose, applicants shall identify such affiliated entities in the application form. e) Associate organisations
16 In derogation from the requirement under 6.1a), international organisations with their registered headquarters outside the EU Member States are also eligible as co-applicants.
17 Letters of mandate, authorising the lead applicant to submit the proposal and to sign any Grant Agreement on their behalf must be submitted from each co-applicant. Letters of commitment must be submitted from each co-applicant, affiliated entity; certifying that they are willing to participate in the project with a brief description of their role and indicating any financial contribution where applicable (see checklist points 5 and 6). Letters of commitment are also required from any associate organisations (participation on a no-cost basis and no financial contribution).
18 For the purposes of this Call, "European-level organisation" means a legal entity, having its registered office based in one of the Member States of the European Union and ensuring the general representation at European level, of Member States workers' or employers' national associations and promoting their common interests at European level according to their own by laws.
19 See section 2 of the Financial Guidelines for definitions.
An associate organisation can participate in the action but may not declare eligible costs.
6.2 Eligible activities
a) Geographical Location
To be eligible, actions must be fully carried out in the EU Member States or the Candidate Countries.
This applies equally to activities carried out by International Organisations. However, in duly justified circumstances, project management costs incurred in the headquarters of International Organisations established outside the EU Member States or outside the candidate countries may be considered eligible.
b) Types of activities
The grant will finance besides others the activities indicated in section 2.2. c) Core activities
The following activities are considered to be core activities and may not be subcontracted:
• in the case of a multi-beneficiary Grant Agreement, the role of coordinator as laid down in Article II.2.3 of the Grant Agreement.
6.3 Ineligible activities
Financial support to third parties as defined in point 3 of the Financial Guidelines is not eligible under this call.
The budget heading is intended to finance specific transnational cooperation projects. Therefore grants are not intended to finance the normal operation or meetings of bodies representing management or labour (the social partners); they are intended only to cover additional expenditure linked directly to projects.
7. EXCLUSION CRITERIA
Applicant(s) (single applicant or lead applicant and each co-applicant) must sign a declaration on their honour signed in their name (and on behalf of the affiliated entities, should they be part of the application), certifying that they are not in one of the situations referred to in Articles 136 and 141 of the Financial Regulation concerning exclusion and rejection from the procedure respectively, using the relevant form attached to the application form available at https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/swim/external/displayW elcome.do.
The authorising officer shall exclude an applicant from participating in call for proposals procedures where:
(a) the applicant is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up procedures, its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, it is in an arrangement with creditors, its business
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activities are suspended, or it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under EU or national laws or regulations;
(b) ithasbeenestablishedbyafinaljudgmentorafinaladministrativedecisionthattheapplicant is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the applicable law;
(c) ithasbeenestablishedbyafinaljudgmentorafinaladministrativedecisionthattheapplicant is guilty of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession to which the applicant belongs, or by having engaged in any wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:
(i) fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of eligibility or selection criteria or in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision;
(ii) entering into agreement with other applicants with the aim of distorting competition;
(iii) violating intellectual property rights;
(iv) attempting to influence the decision-making process of the [Commission] [Agency] during the award procedure;
(v) attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it undue advantages in the award procedure;
(d) it has been established by a final judgment that the applicant is guilty of any of the following:
(i) fraud, within the meaning of Article 3 of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;
(ii) corruption, as defined in Article 4(2) of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 or Article 3 of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 May 1997, or conduct referred to in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, or corruption as defined in the applicable law;
(iii) conduct related to a criminal organisation, as referred to in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;
(iv) money laundering or terrorist financing within the meaning of Article 1(3), (4) and (5) of Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council;
(v) terrorist offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, as defined in Articles 1 and 3 of Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, respectively, or inciting, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit such offences, as referred to in Article 4 of that Decision;
(vi) child labour or other offences concerning trafficking in human beings as referred to in Article 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;
(e) the applicant has shown significant deficiencies in complying with main obligations in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision financed by the Union's budget, which has led to its early termination or to the application of liquidated damages or other contractual penalties, or which has been discovered following checks, audits or investigations by an authorising officer, OLAF or the Court of Auditors;
(f) it has been established by a final judgment or final administrative decision that the applicant has committed an irregularity within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95;
(g) Ithasbeenestablishedbyafinaljudgementorfinaladministrativedecisionthattheapplicant has created an entity in a different jurisdiction with the intent to circumvent fiscal, social or any other legal obligations of mandatory application in the jurisdiction of its registered office, central administration or principal place of business;
(h) ithasbeenestablishedbyafinaljudgementorfinaladministrativedecisionthatanentityhas been created with the intent referred to in point (g);
(i) for the situations referred to in points (c) to (h) above, the applicant is subject to:
(i) facts established in the context of audits or investigations carried out by European Public Prosecutor's Office after its establishment, the Court of Auditors, the European Anti-Fraud Office or the internal auditor, or any other check, audit or control performed under the responsibility of an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body;
(ii) non-final judgments or non-final administrative decisions which may include disciplinary measures taken by the competent supervisory body responsible for the verification of the application of standards of professional ethics;
(iii) facts referred to in decisions of persons or entities being entrusted with EU budget implementation tasks;
(iv) information transmitted by Member States implementing Union funds;
(v) decisions of the Commission relating to the infringement of Union competition law or of a national competent authority relating to the infringement of Union or national competition law; or
(vi) decisions of exclusion by an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body.
7.2. Remedial measures
If an applicant declares one of the situations of exclusion listed above it must indicate the measures it has taken to remedy the exclusion situation, thus demonstrating its reliability. This may include e.g. technical, organisational and personnel measures to correct the conduct and prevent further occurrence, compensation of damage or payment of fines or of any taxes or social security contributions. The relevant documentary evidence which illustrates the remedial measures taken must be provided in annex to the declaration. This does not apply for situations referred in point (d) of section 7.1.
7.3. Rejection from the call for proposals
The Commission shall not award a grant to an applicant who: a) is in an exclusion situation;
b) has misrepresented the information required as a condition for participating in the procedure or has failed to supply this information;
c) was previously involved in the preparation of calls for proposals documents where this entails a distortion of competition that cannot be remedied otherwise.
The same exclusion criteria apply to affiliated entities of the applicant. These affiliated entities must therefore, be specified in the above-mentioned declaration(s).
Administrative sanctions may be imposed on applicants, or affiliated entities where applicable, who are guilty of misrepresentation, if any of the declarations or information provided as a condition for participating in this procedure prove to be false.
8. SELECTION CRITERIA
The single applicant or the lead and each co-applicant must have the financial and operational capacity to complete the activity for which funding is requested. Only organisations with the necessary financial and operational capacity may be considered for a grant.
8.1 Financial capacity
The single applicant or the lead applicant and each co-applicant must have access to solid funding (i.e. be considered as having a strong financial capacity) to maintain its/their activities for the period of the action and to help finance it as necessary.
The verification of financial capacity will NOT apply to public bodies and to International Organisations.
The single applicant's or the lead applicant's and each co-applicant's financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the following supporting documents to be submitted with the application:
declaration on honour (including declaration on financial capacity to carry out the activity) (see section checklist point 4);
annual balance sheets and profit and loss accounts for the last financial year available (see section checklist point 15);
for newly created entities: the business plan might replace the above documents;
summary balance sheet and profit and loss accounts using the template provided in SWIM (see section 14) and signed by the legal representative (see section 16, checklist point 16);
information on the financial capacity provided by the applicant and in particular the information provided in section "Financial Resources" of the SWIM application form
If the audit report is not available AND a statutory report is not required by law,
a self-declaration signed by the applicant's authorized representative certifying the validity of its accounts for the last financial year available (see checklist point 17).
In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above thresholds apply to each applicant and not to the consortium as a whole.
The ratio between the total assets in the applicants' balance sheet and the total cost of the action of the project or the part of the project budget for which that organisation is responsible for according to the budget in the application form (lead and co-applicants) would be considered strong if it is equal or greater than 0.70.
Formula in the case of single applicant: own assets/total cost of the action > 0.70
Formula for each applicant in the case of consortia: applicant's own assets/part of the cost of the action corresponding to that applicant > 0.70
If the single applicant or the lead applicant is considered not to have a strong financial capacity, the application as a whole will be rejected.
If a co-applicant or several co-applicants are considered not to have an strong financial capacity, the Commission will also take into account any other relevant information on the financial capacity provided by the applicant and in particular the information provided in section "Financial Resources" of the SWIM application form.
Where applicable, the Commission may nevertheless request further information at any stage of the procedure, proceed to further verifications.
After this further analysis, the Commission will take various proportional measures depending on the level of weaknesses identified, which may be to:
reject the whole application;
remove the co-applicant from the consortium and re-evaluate the proposal
without this co-applicant;
propose a grant agreement without pre-financing;
propose a grant agreement with pre-financing payment(s) covered by (a)
propose a grant agreement with joint financial liability of 2 or more
propose a grant agreement with a mix of the measures 4,5and6.
In the case of mitigating measure 5, the Commission may request a pre-financing guarantee for up to the same amount as the pre-financing in order to limit the financial risks linked to the pre-financing payment.
The financial guarantee, in euro currency, shall be provided by an approved bank or financial institution established in one of the EU Member States. When the beneficiary is established in a third country, the Commission may agree that a bank or financial institution established in that third country may provide the guarantee if it considers that the bank or financial institution offers equivalent security and characteristics as those offered by a bank or financial institution established in a Member State. Amounts blocked in bank accounts shall not be accepted as financial guarantees.
The guarantee shall be released as the pre-financing is cleared against the payment of the balance, in accordance with the conditions laid down in the grant agreement
8.2 Operational capacity
Single applicants or lead applicants and each co-applicant must have the professional competencies as well as appropriate qualifications necessary to complete the proposed action. In particular, applicants must have:
demonstrable experience of having carried out projects related to the subject of the call in the last three years;
(if lead applicant) appointed a project manager who must have either a relevant qualification or at least three years’ experience in project management;
the necessary operational (human and technical resources) to carry out the action. - 14 -
The operational capacity of the single applicant, lead and co-applicant to complete the proposed action must be confirmed by the submission of the following documents (see also section 16, checklist points 4, 12, 13 and 14):
• a list of projects carried out in the last three years and related to the subject of the call (see checklist point 14);
• the CV of the project manager and of the persons who will perform the main tasks, which demonstrates experience of having carried out projects related to the subject of the call in the last three years and showing their relevant professional experience (see checklist point 12);
• a declaration on honour signed by the legal representative (including operational capacity to carry out the activity) (see checklist point 4);
• a declaration by the project manager of the lead applicant certifying the professional competence and appropriate qualifications of the team to carry out the required tasks (see checklist point 13);
• an organisational chart showing the structure of the applicant organisation(s) with all members of staff involved in the project, their positions and employment status; (see checklist point 19)
If the single or the lead applicant is considered not to have the required operational capacity, the application as a whole will be rejected.
If a co-applicant is considered not to have the required operational capacity, this co-applicant will be removed from the consortium and the application will be evaluated without this co- applicant20. In addition, the activities and costs of the non-selected co-applicant will be removed from the granted budget. If the application is selected, the work plan and budget will have to be adapted.