Hercule III Programme logo

Investigation tools and methods - HERCULE-TA-2018-01
Deadline: 14 Jun 2018   CALL EXPIRED

EU logo mono Hercule III Programme

 Single Market
 Audits and Controls
 Cross-border cooperation
 Horizon2020
 European Law
 Corporate Law
 Corporate Taxes
 Trade Law

The purchase and maintenance of investigation tools and methods used by beneficiaries in the fight against irregularities, fraud and corruption detrimental to the Union’s financial interests, in particular the fight against tobacco smuggling and/or counterfeiting. The Union's financial interests cover Union revenues (traditional own resources (ToR) and VAT) and expenditure, in particular under shared management (structural funds, agriculture) and research and technological development activities. The purchase of adapted transport equipment may be included, provided that an applicant clearly demonstrates that this contributes to the achievement of the Programme's objectives. The purchase of equipment for updating existing tools with the latest telecommunication protocols also falls under this action. Specialised training to enable staff to operate these tools is included and is encouraged. Cross-border cooperation enabling the exchange of information and best practices, in particular at operational level is also encouraged.

The Commission will not provide support for the purchase of equipment only. The purchase of equipment must be part of a project that contributes to the achievement of the Programme's objectives and could, for example, include training actions for the beneficiary's staff to operate the purchased equipment.

 

 

1. Background

This is an EU call for proposals in the policy area of "fight against fraud" under the Hercule III Programme.

On 26 February 2014, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted Regulation (EU) No 250/20141 establishing a programme to promote activities against fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities affecting the financial interests of the Union (Hercule III Programme, hereinafter referred to as "the Programme").

The Programme entered into force on 21 March 2014 and is implemented by the European Anti-Fraud Office of the European Commission (OLAF).

The Hercule Annual Work Programme 20182 (AWP 2018) provides that the Commission launches a specific call for proposals for the following technical assistance3 actions aimed at preventing and combatting fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities affecting the financial interests of the Union:

  1. providing specific knowledge, specialised and technically advanced equipment and effective information technology (IT) tools facilitating transnational cooperation and cooperation with the Commission;

  2. ensuring the necessary support and facilitating investigations, in particular the setting up of joint investigation teams and cross-border operations;

  3. supporting Member States' capacity to store and destroy seized cigarettes, as well as independent analytical services for the analysis of seized cigarettes;

  4. providing technical and operational support for the law enforcement authorities of the Member States in their fight against illegal cross-border activities and fraud affecting the financial interests of the Union, including in particular support for customs authorities.

This call for proposals is entitled: "Technical Assistance 2018".

 

2. Objectives — Themes & priorities — Projects that can be funded — Expected results

Objectives

The general objective4 of the Programme “shall be to protect the financial interests of the Union thus enhancing the competitiveness of the Union’s economy and ensuring the protection of the taxpayers’ money”. The specific objective5 shall be to prevent and combat fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities affecting the financial interests of the Union.

The operational objectives6 of the Programme are listed below:

  1. a) to improve the prevention and investigation of fraud and other illegal activities beyond current levels by enhancing transnational and multi-disciplinary cooperation;
  2. b)  to increase the protection of the financial interests of the Union against fraud, facilitating the exchange of information, experience and best practices, including staff exchanges;
  3. c)  to strengthen the fight against fraud and other illegal activities providing technical and operational support to national investigation and in particular, customs and law enforcement, authorities;

  4. d)  to limit the currently known exposure of the financial interests of the Union to fraud, corruption and other illegal activities with a view to reducing the development of an illegal economy in key risk areas such as organised fraud, including cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting;

  5. e)  to enhance the degree of development of the specific legal and judicial protection of the financial interests of the Union against fraud by promoting comparative law analysis.

This call for proposals concerns mainly the operational objectives (c) and (d).

Themes & priorities

The projects must aim at the protection of the financial interests of the Union by preventing and combatting fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities.

This call for proposals encourages projects having a strong European transnational aspect.

There are no specific priorities for this call for proposals.

Projects that can be funded

Under this call, national and regional administrations are invited to submit applications for projects under the following four topics7:

  1. Investigation tools and methods (topic 1)

    The purchase and maintenance of investigation tools and methods used by beneficiaries in the fight against irregularities, fraud and corruption detrimental to the Union’s financial interests, in particular the fight against tobacco smuggling and/or counterfeiting. The Union's financial interests cover Union revenues (traditional own resources (ToR) and VAT) and expenditure, in particular under shared management (structural funds, agriculture) and research and technological development activities. The purchase of adapted transport equipment may be included, provided that an applicant clearly demonstrates that this contributes to the achievement of the Programme's objectives. The purchase of equipment for updating existing tools with the latest telecommunication protocols also falls under this action. Specialised training to enable staff to operate these tools is included and is encouraged. Cross-border cooperation enabling the exchange of information and best practices, in particular at operational level is also encouraged;

  2. Detection tools (topic 2)

    The purchase and maintenance of devices for inspecting containers, trucks, railway carriages and vehicles ("detection tools") at the Union’s external borders and within the Union. This equipment should contribute to the strengthening of beneficiaries’ operational and technical capacity to detect smuggled and counterfeited goods, in particular cigarettes or tobacco, imported into the Union with the intention of evading VAT, customs duties and/or excise taxes. Under this type of action, the purchase, transport, training, lodging and feeding of animals that are used to detect smuggled and illicit goods on the basis of their scent characteristics is included. Cross-border cooperation enabling the exchange of information and best practices, in particular at operational level is also encouraged;

  3.  Automated Number-Plate Recognition System (ANPRS - topic 3)
    The purchase, maintenance and (cross-border) interconnection of automated systems for the recognition of number-plates (ANPRSs) or container codes for purposes relating to the protection of the Union’s financial interests. Requisite specialised training in the operation of such systems is included. Cross-border cooperation enabling the exchange of information to strengthen the fight against irregularities and suspected fraud is strongly encouraged whilst the applicants should demonstrate its full compliance with the existing data protection requirements;
     

  4. Analysis and destruction of seizures (topic 4)
    The purchase of services8 for the analysis, storage and destruction of seized genuine or counterfeited cigarettes and other counterfeited goods detrimental to the Union’s financial interests.

The Commission will not provide support for the purchase of equipment only9. The purchase of equipment must be part of a project that contributes to the achievement of the Programme's objectives and could, for example, include training actions for the beneficiary's staff to operate the purchased equipment.

Applicants are required to choose one main topic and should be aware that an application may also incorporate elements of other topics.

Expected results

The applicant should demonstrate that the results of the action contribute to the achievement of the general, specific and operational objectives of the Hercule III Programme (see section 2). The applicant should explain how the achievement of the expected results will be measured. Special attention should be given to the following:

  1. Investigation tools and methods (topic 1)

    Strengthening and improvement of beneficiaries’ operational capacity as measured, for example, by the number of successful operations carried out with the purchased equipment in support of investigations into activities detrimental to the Union’s financial interests (including cross-border operations and investigations and Joint Investigation Teams (JIT)), arrests made, convictions, seizures, confiscations, recoveries, prevented losses to the national and Union budgets, and fraud schemes uncovered;

  2. Detection tools (topic 2)

    Strengthening and improvement of beneficiaries’ (in particular, customs authorities’) technical capacity to carry out verifications of trucks, containers and vehicles as measured by the number of verifications and ‘hits’ following the use of x-ray scanners, and searches carried out with the help of specially trained animals, such as sniffer dogs;

  3. Automated Number-Plate Recognition System (ANPRS - topic 3)

    Strengthening and improvement of beneficiaries’ (e.g. customs, police or tax authorities’) investigative capacities to identify trucks and vehicles suspected of involvement in activities detrimental, inter alia, to the Union’s financial interests, as measured by the number of verifications made with (interconnected) ANPRSs, operating hours and positive identifications (‘hits’, including arrests and seizures), and results from the exchange of ANPRS information with competent authorities in neighbouring and cross-border regions, other Member States and non-EU countries;

  4. Analysis and destruction of seizures (topic 4)
    Information on the number and value of seizures, and estimates of the losses to national and Union budgets prevented as a result of the use of the equipment purchased or made available.

 

Implementation report

Given that beneficiaries will have only had a limited time to use purchased equipment at the time of submission of the final technical report and request for payment, a final implementation report is also requested. This implementation report should be submitted one year after the closing date of the grant agreement and should contain information on the action's contribution to the achievement of the Programme's objectives after a one year period of implementation.

 

3. Timetable & available call budget

Call publication:
26 April 2018

Opening date:
26 April 2018

Deadline for applications:
14 June 2018 – 17:00 CET

Evaluation:
June-August 2018

Information on evaluation result:
September-October 2018

Grant agreement signature:
November 2018

Maximum duration of a project10
18 months

Latest date to finish the project :
1 September 2020

 

Call budget

The available call budget is EUR 9 547 500.
The Commission reserves the right not to award all available funds.

 

4. Admissibility criteria

Admissibility

Applications must be submitted before the call deadline (see timetable section 3).

Applications must be submitted electronically via the Participant Portal Electronic Submission System (accessible via the Call Topic page in the Funding Opportunities section). Paper submissions are no longer accepted.

10 The duration of the projects detailed in the applications will not exceed 18 months from the start date of the project in Article 2 of the grant agreement. No grant agreement will be extended beyond this maximum duration, except in the case of an unpredictable event with serious consequences that will be properly justified at least one month before the end date. The Commission reserves the right to accept or reject this request. Please note that the project must end before 'the latest date to finish' mentioned in the timetable.

Applications (including annexes and supporting documents) must be submitted using the forms provided inside the Participant Portal Electronic Submission System.
Your application must be readable, accessible, printable and contain all the requested

information, required annexes and supporting documents (see section 10).

A grant will not exceed 80% of the total eligible costs. In exceptional and duly justified cases, the financial support for an action may be increased to a maximum of 90% of the eligible costs. The criteria used to determine whether an action satisfies these conditions are set out in section 9.

 

5. Eligibility criteria

Participants

The bodies eligible to receive grants under this call are national or regional administrations of a Member State which promote the strengthening of action at Union level to protect the financial interests of the Union.

Applications from third countries are subject to the conditions in Article 7(2) of the Hercule III Regulation11.

To prove eligibility, all applicants must register in the Participant Register of the Participant Portal — before the call deadline — and upload the necessary documents showing legal status and origin.

Only applications by single applicants are allowed. No consortium is allowed to apply.

For UK applicants: Please note that until the United Kingdom leaves the EU, nothing changes with regard to the participation in EU programmes. Please be aware however that the eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of our framework partnerships/grants. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during that period (without an agreement ensuring eligibility for UK beneficiaries), you will cease to receive EU funding or be required to leave the project on the basis of the contractual provisions on termination.

Budget

The minimum threshold for the total budgeted costs of a project submitted has been set at EUR 100 000. The application will be discarded if the total budgeted costs proposed are lower than EUR 100 000.

Actions

Eligible actions are set out in section 2.

Duration

The duration of the project will not exceed 18 months following the signature of the grant agreement by both parties.

 

6. Award criteria

Admissible and eligible applications will be evaluated and ranked according to the following award criteria:

1. Added value: its added value for the protection of the Union’s financial interests (40 points);

Conformity with one or more of the Programme’s operational objectives listed in section 2 (in particular, enhancing transnational and multi-disciplinary cooperation as indicated in operational objective (a) as well as the relevance of the issues addressed and complementarity with other Union activities) (20 points);

  1. Quality: accuracy and coherence of the proposed methodology, the organisation of the work, the allocation of resources, the consistency and feasibility of planning and monitoring arrangements, and the originality and appropriateness of the activities (20 points);

  2. Value for money: the proposed budget is sufficient/appropriate for proper implementation; best value for money (provisional budget, expected results and deliverables) (20 points).

Each application will be scored on a 10 point scale for each criterion. The individual score for each criterion will be multiplied by the applicable weight factor and added. The minimum score for each criterion must at least be 55% of the theoretical maximum score. The minimum score for the overall score must be 65% of the theoretical maximum score. An application that does not obtain these minimum scores will be rejected. The applications obtaining a score equal to or higher than 65% of the maximum score will be ranked on the basis of their score and will be recommended for a grant subject to the availability of financial resources.



Public link:   Only for registered users


Up2Europe Ads