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International Digital Cooperation Component C - Trust and Security in Cyberspace Component D - Cross Border Access to Electronic Evidence - BGUE-B2016-19.050100-C1-FPI

  CALL EXPIRED Deadline: 20 Jun 2017

 IT
 IT Applications
 Digital Culture
 Cross-border cooperation
 Digital Society
 Web



1. INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL COOPERATION   

1.1 Background    
 

The Partnership Instrument (PI) is one of the key innovations in Heading 4 of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 package of instruments for financing external action. Designed to advance and promote EU and mutual interests abroad, the PI supports the external dimension of EU policies ranging from competitiveness and migration to research and innovation, and in particular the Europe 2020 Strategy. It addresses major global challenges such as energy security, climate change and environmental protection, as well as specific aspects of the EU's economic diplomacy, both at bilateral and multilateral level. The instrument also covers public diplomacy and outreach activities to promote the Union's values and interests.

The Annual Action Programme 2016 of the PI includes support to a programme on International Digital Cooperation broadly framed within the external dimension of the EU's Digital Single Market Strategy (DSM). The programme includes four thematic projects aimed at strengthening cooperation with key partners on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) standardisation, data protection and data flows, trust and security in cyberspace and cross border access to electronic evidence.

While the Internet and ICT technology have made positive contributions towards economic, political and human development, rapid digital evolution raises concerns about maintaining trust and security in cyberspace. First, the question of international cyber stability and avoiding conflicts through the development of cyber norms and, confidence building measures, and applying existing international law in cyberspace is at the centre of numerous discussions. Secondly, with the global online population jumping from 2.5 billion Internet users in 2016 to 5 billion projected users by 2020-25, the increase of interconnected devices will create greater risks in terms of new cyber vulnerabilities to critical infrastructures. Some governments are also using intrusive techniques to gain the economic, political or security upper hand over their competitors, while exposure to different value systems can increase the risk of misperceptions and clashes.

In response to these challenges, the EU adopted in February 2013 its EU Cybersecurity Strategy. Subsequently, in February 2015, the Council of the EU adopted Council Conclusions on Cyber Diplomacy which recognise engagement with key partners as a way towards promoting EU political, economic and strategic interests. One of the main aims of EU cyber diplomacy is building global consensus on how to apply existing international law in cyberspace and develop norms for responsible state behaviour. A renewed emphasis on dialogue with third countries has a special focus on emerging states in Asia and Latin America as well as like-minded partners that share EU values. The increased global emphasis on cyber is coupled with an interest from a number of countries to have dialogue with the EU. Many partners would like to get better acquainted with the EU cybersecurity legislation and best practices, also in view of the EU Directive on Network and Information Security which addresses cyber resilience of critical infrastructure.

It is in the EU interest to capitalize on this interest and promote dialogue. For cyber norms, this could entail building upon and expanding on the work of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on development in the field of Information and Telecommunication’s in the Context of International Security (UN GGE) and the two sets of cyber confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the OSCE. The Tallinn Manual relating to the application of international law in cyberspace should also be recognised in this regard. As regards cyber resilience, there is a need to share information on the new EU legislation.

In terms of cyber partnerships, the EU-USA cyber partnership is the most developed up to now. However, beyond the US, there are numerous contacts with Japan and South Korea who are considered as like-minded partners to the EU. Similarly, the EU and Brazil have agreed to start a cyber dialogue and have unlocked joint funding under their research programmes to address Internet governance and security. Bilateral cooperation between the EU and China has been going on for 4 years. Relationship between EU and China has so far proved to be difficult, but China is an important actor in cyberspace and needs to be engaged. India is perceived as a promising partner but the policy dialogue that EU has with India on cyber should be followed up by complementary activities with civil society and private sector involvement. 

These bilateral engagements have been formalised in a series of EU official Cyber Dialogues with India (launched 2011), China (2012), South Korea (2013), Japan (2014), US (2014) and shortly with Brazil. A lesson learnt from official track 1 cyber dialogues is the need to complement them with more intense and broader informal dialogue on cyber governance, frameworks and norms involving civil society and private sector at national and regional levels.

As part of these efforts, the EU has decided to tackle the challenge that is created by the fleeting nature of electronic evidence. Crime leaves digital traces that can serve as evidence in court proceedings; often it will be the only lead law enforcement authorities and prosecutors can collect. It is fast-moving and can quickly be deleted. Therefore, effective mechanisms to obtain digital evidence are of the essence. However, present-day solutions too often prove unsatisfactory, frustrating investigations. 

In its April 2015 Communication on a European Agenda on Security, the Commission committed to addressing these challenges for investigations into cyber-enabled crimes. In its Conclusions on improving criminal justice in cyberspace, adopted on 9 June 2016, the Council supported the Commission´s commitment and called on the Commission to take concrete actions based on a common EU approach to improve cooperation with service providers, make mutual legal assistance more efficient and to propose solutions to the problems of determining and enforcing jurisdiction in cyberspace. 

The Council requested the Commission to report on intermediate results by December 2016 and to present deliverables by June 2017.

The Commission launched an expert consultation process to explore possible solutions and work towards a common EU position, through the involvement of relevant stakeholders, including private sector, practitioners from the Member States and civil society organisations. This process has started with bilateral meetings and small groups and is now expanding progressively as options are being developed and tested.  A first progress report was provided at the 8 December JHA Council, while a more comprehensive options paper will be delivered by June 2017.

As outlined in the Progress report, a central obstacle that emerged from the expert process consists in insufficient knowledge of the legal system of countries receiving requests for information, in particular the U.S. This insufficient knowledge relates to both mutual legal assistance procedures – notably to the standard of probable cause applied to requests for access to content data – and to direct cooperation with service providers, in particular to the different policies and procedures of service providers and on the types of data they can provide upon request, either by service providers or by national authorities. As a result, training and exchange of best practice have been identified as avenues to alleviate some of the problems.

 

Objectives of the programme and priority issues

The global objective of this call for proposals is to contribute to the development of a secure, right-based international digital sphere, conducive to a level playing field in terms of market access and business opportunities for EU companies.

The specific objectives of this call for proposals are to promote EU engagement with strategic partners:

Lot 1: To advance an open, free and secure cyberspace through the promotion of rules-based cyber-behaviour and increased cyber resilience.

Lot 2: To support effective cooperation for law enforcement purposes between the EU and the US

To achieve these specific objectives and contribute to the overall objective of the International Digital Cooperation programme, the following results are expected from actions supported under this call for proposals:

Lot 1: 

R1: Increased consensus with partner countries on how to apply existing international law in cyberspace

R2: Enhanced development of cyber norms and confidence building measures 

R3: Strengthened multi-stakeholder cyber engagement

R4: Enhanced dissemination of EU best practices in strengthening cyber resilience and protecting critical cyber infrastructure.

 

Lot 2:

R1: Enhanced implementation of effective EU-US Mutual legal assistance (MLA) through targeted exchange of experience and best practice, as well as training

R2: Strengthened cooperation between law enforcement and US registered business/private sector for digital evidence through targeted exchange of experience and best practice, as well as training.

Lot 1 Action, on cyber diplomacy and cyber resilience, will support EU official cyber dialogues with strategic partners. It will build on work undertaken by the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security in developing cyber norms, and the OSCE and other regional organisations in implementing cyber security confidence building measures. The action will also take note of international negotiations on applying international law in cyberspace. The action should be planned and implemented in close cooperation with the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Commission to complement the ongoing EU international engagements on cyber diplomacy and resilience.  

Lot 2 Action, on cross border access to electronic evidence, will build on the ongoing work to improve MLA requests from EU Member States to the U.S. and procedures for access to electronic evidence by law enforcement authorities directly from private sector operators based in the U.S. The action should be planned and implemented in close cooperation with the Commission's Informal Task Force on E-evidence coordinated by DGs HOME and JUST.

 

Financial allocation provided by the contracting authority

The overall indicative amount made available under this call for proposals is EUR 3,500,000. The Contracting Authority reserves the right not to award all available funds.

Indicative allocation of funds by lot:

Lot 1 on Trust and Security in cyberspace: Cyber diplomacy and Cyber resilience:  EUR 2,500,000

Lot 2 on Cross Border Access to Electronic Evidence: EUR 1,000,000 

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 2,000,000

Maximum amount: EUR 2,500,000

Lot 2

Minimum amount: EUR 800,000

Maximum amount: EUR 1,000,000

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. 

The grant may cover the entire eligible costs of the action if this is deemed essential to carry it out. If that is the case, the lead applicant must justify full financing in Annex A.2. section 2.1. The validity of the justification provided will be examined during the evaluation procedure. The absence of any justification may lead to the rejection of the application.

Applicants must demonstrate that project activities are strictly non-profit making.

 

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) .

 

 

Eligibility criteria

There are three sets of eligibility criteria, relating to:

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 "applicants)") (2.1.1),

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

the actions:

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

the costs:

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

 

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:

be a legal person and

be an organisation such as: think tanks, non-governmental organisation, research institutes or other civil society organisations, EU specialised agencies and regional and international (inter-governmental) organisations as defined by Article 43 of the Rules of application of the EU Financial Regulation, and

be established in a Member State of the EU or in a partner country of the action (see section 2.1.4 on location per lot). This obligation does not apply to international organisations 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.

 

 (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 coordinates the design and implementation of the action.

Co-applicant(s)

 

Participation with co-applicant(s) from different partner countries of the action, including academia, civil society organisations and/or private sector is strongly encouraged.  

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.

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).

 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:

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).

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.

 

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.

 

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 the action is: 

Lot 1: 36 months

Lot 2: 36 months

Sectors or themes

Actions must relate to the field of EU foreign and security policy with particular focus on:

Lot 1: Cyber diplomacy and cyber resilience

Lot 2: Security and Cross border access to electronic evidence

Location

Actions must take place in

Lot 1:  EU and the following strategic partners of the EU on foreign policy and security issues: U.S., China, Japan, South Korea, India and Brazil. 

Lot 2:  EU and the U.S. 

Types of action

Actions must contribute to the achievement of the objectives and expected results listed for each lot under section 1.2 of the present Guidelines (Objectives of the Programme). They should be self-contained operations indicating a coherent set of activities with clearly defined operational objectives, target groups and planned, tangible outcomes within a limited timeframe. The proposed Actions should be designed in response to identified opportunities for engagement in each partner country or region, and based on specifically tailored strategies and intervention methodologies. The means to be deployed should stem logically from this approach.  

Applicants must demonstrate that project activities are strictly non-profit making.

Lot 1:

The Action on cyber diplomacy and cyber resilience will support EU official cyber dialogues with strategic partners. It will build on work undertaken by the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security in developing cyber norms, and the OSCE and other regional organisations in implementing cyber security confidence building measures. The action will also take note of international negotiations on applying international law in cyberspace. It should be planned and implemented in close cooperation with the EEAS and the Commission to complement the ongoing EU international engagements on cyber diplomacy and resilience. 

The Action will target governmental and non-governmental organisations in the partner countries that are engaged in cyber diplomacy and cyber resilience. In addition, the project will seek the involvement of civil society, academia, think tanks and the business/private sector carrying out activities related to protecting critical infrastructure, preservation of online rights and freedoms, privacy and openness.

 

Lot 2: 

Lot 2 Action, on cross border access to electronic evidence, will build on the ongoing work to improve MLA requests from EU Member States to the U.S. and procedures for access to electronic evidence by law enforcement authorities directly from private sector operators based in the U.S. The action should be planned and implemented in close cooperation with the Commission's Informal Task Force on E-evidence coordinated by DGs HOME and JUST.

The Action will target government and more particularly law enforcement and judiciary authorities in the EU and the U.S. as well as the business/private sector and more specifically U.S. service providers.

 

The following types of action are ineligible:

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;

Construction or renovation of buildings or infrastructures.

Types of activity

Lot 1:

The indicative list of activities undertaken in response to Lot 1 should inter alia include:

Policy analysis and research activities to support effective engagement per target country:

Identification and assessment of stakeholders and their positions on project themes.  This activity will include governments as well as civil society, think-tanks, academia and relevant national business/private sector actors.

Policy analysis of key issues and opportunities for EU engagement with strategic partners. Policy analyses should be based on current developments, include practical recommendations and different policy options as well as should demonstrate in-depth knowledge on both EU and target country cyber policies. 

Development of different analytical tools to prepare the EU international engagement, including legal analyses, case studies and lessons learnt as a basis for further dialogue and consensus-building

Policy outreach activities for targeted stakeholders on the application of international law, cyber norms and cyber confidence-building measures (CBMs), and cyber resilience of critical infrastructures. These activities will be conducted with officials of partner countries, experts from academia, civil society and the private sector in various formats.  Specific informal engagements to complement official dialogues will be developed with EU cyber dialogue partners the U.S., Japan, South Korea, China, India and Brazil as part of policy outreach activities. Regional activities could also include other countries in the region in Latin America and in Asia. 

Communication and dissemination activities to promote broader EU dialogue on cyber diplomacy and cyber resilience.

Activities in the proposed Action should be designed in recognition of the important role of civil society and the private sector in cyber issues.  

Activities may have a bilateral and/or a regional focus.

Lot 2: 

Activities undertaken in response to Lot 2 should separately address two linked aspects: 1) the need to foster a better understanding by EU law enforcement and judiciary of the requirements of the U.S. legal system for mutual legal assistance requests to the U.S. for data; and 2) the need to foster better cooperation between EU law enforcement and judiciary and U.S.-based service providers in the context of access to non-content data.

The indicative list of activities undertaken in response to Lot 2 should inter alia include:

Outreach and knowledge exchange activities for targeted stakeholders on the application of MLA mechanisms and direct access to electronic evidence held by service providers in the US.

Organisation and facilitation of meetings between EU law enforcement and judiciary and the relevant counterparts in the U.S., notably the U.S. Department of Justice and service providers.

Creation of products that are re-usable for a larger audience, such as webinars to instruct a wider group of law enforcement and judiciary. 

The activities should integrate expertise made available by counterparts in the U.S., notably the U.S. Department of Justice and service providers. The Commission is available to provide contacts and facilitate this process.

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: 

the objectives and results to be obtained with the financial support 

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

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  

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

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 under this Call for Proposals.

The lead applicant may not be awarded more than one grant under this Call for Proposals.

The lead applicant may not be a co-applicant or an affiliated entity in another application at the same time.

A co-applicant/affiliated entity may not submit more than one application per lot under this Call for Proposals.

A co-applicant/affiliated entity may not be awarded more than one grant per lot under this Call for Proposals.

 

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 flatrates 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.

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.

 

How to apply and the procedures to follow

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

Provide information about the organisations involved in the action. Please note that the registration of this data in PADOR is obligatory for this call for proposals:

Concept note step: Registration is obligatory for lead applicants.

Full application step: Registration is obligatory for co-applicant(s) and affiliated entity(ies). Lead applicants must make sure that their PADOR profile is up to date.

II. Provide information about the action in the documents listed under sections 2.2.2 (concept note) and

(full application). Please note that online submission via PROSPECT is obligatory for this call,

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

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 to register online in PADOR for technical reasons, the 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 sections 2.2.2 and 2.2.5).

Before starting using PADOR and PROSPECT, please read the user guides available on the website. All technical questions related 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. Concept note content

Applications must be submitted in accordance with the concept note instructions in the grant application form annexed to these guidelines (Annex A.1). 

Applicants must apply in English.

Please note that: 

1. In the concept note lead applicants must provide only an estimate of the requested EU contribution, as well as an indicative percentage of this contribution in relation to the total eligible costs of the action. A detailed budget is to be submitted only by lead applicants invited to submit a full application in the second phase. 

2. The elements outlined in the concept note may not be modified in the full application form. The EU contribution may not vary from the initial estimate by more than 20 %. Lead applicants are free to adapt the requested EU contribution as a percentage of the total eligible costs within the minimum and maximum amounts and percentages provided in section 1.3. 

The lead applicant may replace a co-applicant or an affiliated entity only in duly justified cases (e.g. bankruptcy of initial co-applicant or affiliated entity). In this case the new co-applicant/affiliated entity must be of a similar nature as the initial one. The lead applicant may adjust the duration of the action if unforeseen circumstances outside the scope of the applicants have taken place following the submission of the concept note and require such adaptation (risk of action not being carried out). In such cases the duration must remain within the limits imposed by the guidelines for applicants. An explanation/justification of the relevant replacement/adjustment shall be included in section 2.1.1 of the grant application form. 

Own contributions by the applicants can be replaced by other donors' contributions at any time. 

3. Only the concept note form will be evaluated. It is therefore of utmost importance that this document contains all relevant information concerning the action. No additional annexes should be sent. 

Any error or major discrepancy related to the concept note instructions may lead to the rejection of the concept note. 

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

 

2.2.2 Where and how to send concept notes 

The concept note together with the declaration by the lead applicant (Annex A.1 section 2) 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 a concept note online, the lead applicant will receive an automatic confirmation of receipt in its PROSPECT profile. 

If it is impossible for lead applicants to submit their concept note online via PROSPECT for technical reasons, they must send their proposal in a sealed envelope and attach the concept note together with the declaration by the lead applicant (Annex A.1 section 2). In particular, the lead applicant must send, in a sealed envelope as described below the following items: 

a. One original of the concept note. The signed declaration by the lead applicant (Annex A.1 section 2) must be printed and stapled separately and enclosed in the envelope 

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

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

The envelope must bear the reference number and the title of the call for proposals, together with the lot number and title, the full name and address of the lead applicant, and the words ‘Not to be opened before the opening session’. 

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. 

Concept notes 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) to the address below. 

Postal address 

European Commission

Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI1)

200, rue de la Loi

1049 Brussels (Evere)

Belgium

 

Address for hand delivery or by private courier service 

European Commission

Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI1)

For the attention of Christian MEUNIER

9A, Rond Point Schuman

1049 Brussels (Evere)

Belgium

 

Concept notes sent by any other means (e.g. by fax or by e-mail) or delivered to other addresses will be rejected. 

Hand-written concept notes will not be accepted. 

Please note that incomplete concept notes may be rejected. Lead applicants are advised to verify that their concept note is complete by using the checklist for concept note (Annex A.1, Instructions).

 

2.2.3 Deadline for submission of concept notes

The deadline for the submission of concept notes is 20 June 2017 at 17:00 hours (Brussels date and 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.

The lead applicant is strongly advised not to wait until the last day to submit its concept note, 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 afore-mentioned difficulties.

In the exceptional case of submission by post or by hand delivery (see section 2.2.2), the date of submission is evidenced by the date of dispatch, the postmark or the date of the deposit slip. In the case of hand-deliveries, the deadline for receipt is at 17:00 hours local time as evidenced by the signed and dated receipt.

Any concept note 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 19 May 2017 in Brussels. The precise time and location will be announced separately. 

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

E-mail address: FPI-4-GRANTS-TENDERS@ec.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 submission of concept notes.

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. 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 English, French or Spanish should they wish to benefit from an optimum response time. 

 

 2.2.5 Full applications

Lead applicants invited to submit a full application following pre-selection of their concept note must do so using the full application form annexed to these guidelines (Annex A.2).

Applications must be submitted in accordance with the full application instructions at the end of Annex A.2. Lead applicants must submit their full applications in the same language as their concept notes.

Please note that:

The elements outlined in the concept note cannot be modified by the lead applicant in the full application form. The EU contribution may not vary from the initial estimate by more than 20 %, although lead applicants are free to adapt the percentage of co-financing required within the minimum and maximum amount and percentages of co-financing, as laid down in these guidelines under section 1.3. The lead applicant may replace a co-applicant or an affiliated entity only in duly justified cases (e.g. bankruptcy of initial co-applicant or affiliated entity). In this case the new co-applicant/affiliated entity must be of a similar nature as the initial one. The lead applicant may adjust the duration of the action if unforeseen circumstances outside the scope of the applicants have taken place following the submission of the concept note and require such adaptation (risk of action not being carried out). An explanation/justification of the relevant replacement/adjustment shall be included in section 2.1.1 of the grant application form.

A copy of the lead applicant’s accounts of the latest financial year (the profit and loss account and the balance sheet for the last financial year for which the accounts have been closed) must be uploaded in PADOR by the full application deadline. A copy of the latest account is neither required from (if any) the co-applicant(s) nor from (if any) affiliated entity(ies)).

Only the full application form and the published annexes which have to be filled in (budget, logical framework) will be transmitted to the evaluators (and assessors, if used). It is therefore of utmost importance that these documents contain ALL the relevant information concerning the action. No additional annexes should be sent.

Any error or any major inconsistency related to the full application instructions (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 information provided is unclear and thus prevents the Contracting Authority from conducting an objective assessment.

 

2.2.6 Where and how to send full applications

Full application forms together with the budget, the logical framework and the declaration by the lead applicant must be submitted online via PROSPECT https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/ europeaid/prospect following the instructions given in the users’ manual.

Upon submission of the full application online, the lead applicants will receive an automatic confirmation of receipt in their PROSPECT profile.

The lead applicant must send by post the application, i.e. the full application form, the budget, the logical framework and the declaration by the lead applicant, if:

a. The concept note was submitted by post / hand delivery (see section 2.2.3).

b. The concept note was submitted via PROSPECT but it is technically impossible for the organisation to submit the full application online.

In the above two cases the lead applicant must send, in a sealed envelope as described below, the following items:

One original signed copy of the full application form, the budget and the logical framework. The declaration by the lead applicant (Annex A.2, section 5) must be printed and stapled separately and enclosed in the envelope.

2 additional copies in A4 size, each bound.

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

To reduce expense and waste, we strongly recommend that you use only paper for your file (no 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) to the address below. Where lead applicants send several applications (if allowed to do so by the guidelines of the call), each one must be sent separately:

Postal address 

European Commission

Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI1)

200, rue de la Loi

1049 Brussels (Evere)

Belgium

 

Address for hand delivery or by private courier service 

European Commission

Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI1)

For the attention of Christian MEUNIER

9A, Rond Point Schuman

1049 Brussels (Evere)

Belgium

 

The envelope must bear the reference number and the title of the call for proposals, together with the number and title of the lot, the full name and address of the lead applicant, and the words ‘Not to be opened before the opening session".

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 (Annex A.2, Instructions).

 

2.2.7 Deadline for submission of full applications

 

The deadline for the submission of full applications will be indicated in the letter sent to the lead applicants whose application has been pre-selected. This letter will appear online automatically in the PROSPECT profile of the lead applicant. 

Lead applicants who, in exceptional cases (see section 2.2.6) had to submit their application by post or hand-delivery, will receive the letter by email or by post if no email address was provided

Lead applicants are strongly advised not to wait until the last day to submit their full 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 afore-mentioned difficulties.

In the case of submission by post, (see section 2.2.6), the date of submission is evidenced by the date of dispatch, the postmark or the date of the deposit slip. In the case of hand-deliveries, the deadline for receipt is at 17:00 hours local time as evidenced by the signed and dated receipt.

Any application submitted after the deadline will be rejected

 However, for reasons of administrative efficiency, the Contracting Authority may also reject any full application sent in due time but received after the effective date of approval of the full application evaluation (see indicative calendar under section 2.5.2).

 

2.2.8 Further information about full applications

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

E-mail address: FPI-4-GRANTS-TENDERS@ec.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), or an action.

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. 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 English, French or Spanish 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:

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

If the concept note satisfies all the criteria specified in the checklist in the instructions included in Annex A.1. This includes also 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.

 



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