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MARINE STRATEGY FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE - SECOND CYCLE: IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NEW GES DECISION AND PROGRAMMES OF MEASURES - DG ENV/MSFD 2018
Deadline: 20 Jun 2018   CALL EXPIRED

EU logo mono EC - DG Environment

 Marine and Coast
 Maritime Affaires and Fisheries
 Eco-Innovation
 Environment
 Environmental protection
 Maritime transport
 EU Strategy Baltic Sea Region
 Euro-Mediterranean Relations

1. INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND

Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 2328/2003, (EC) No 861/2006, (EC) No 1198/2006 and (EC) No 791/2007 and Regulation (EU) No 1255/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council defines the legal basis for this call for proposals. In particular, Article 83 states that the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) may support operations such as projects in accordance with the objectives set out in Article 82, one of which is "to promote the protection of the marine environment, in particular its biodiversity and marine protected areas such as Natura 2000 sites, and the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources and to further define the boundaries of the sustainability of human activities that have an impact on the marine environment", in particular in the framework of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, 2008/56/EC)1.

1.2. The Commission's Annual Work Programmes for 2017 and 2018

On 15th of December 2016 the Commission adopted the work programme for 20172 and on 8th December 2017 the work programme for 20183 and the financing for the implementation of the EMFF. These work programmes for 2017 and 2018 set out details of the financing mechanisms and of the priority areas for actions fostering the development and implementation of the Union's Integrated Maritime Policy under the EMFF.

1.3. Current status of the MSFD implementation process

The MSFD aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) of the EU's marine waters by 2020 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend. In order to achieve GES by 2020, each Member State is required to develop a strategy for its marine waters (a "Marine Strategy") which must be kept up-to- date and reviewed every 6 years.

In 2012, Member States reported under the MSFD for the first time on their initial assessment (including on the current environmental status, on the predominant pressures and impacts and on the uses of their marine waters), on what they consider as being "good environmental status" (GES) and on the environmental targets they set themselves in order to reach GES by 2020 (Articles 8, 9 and 10 of the MSFD). The setting of monitoring programmes was required to be completed by 2014 (Article 11 of the MSFD), and the programmes of measures (PoMs) had to be established by 2015 and made operational within one year of their establishment (Article 13 of the MSFD).

 

In February 2014, the Commission published a report on their assessment of the first stage of Member State reporting (Articles 8, 9 and 10), which identified a number of shortcomings in the implementation of the Directive and made suggestions on how to prepare for the updates of the initial assessment, determination of GES and environmental targets which are due in 2018, to be carried out in accordance with MSFD Article 17. The report highlighted the need for greater coherence with related EU legislation, in particular the Habitats and Birds Directives (92/43/EEC and 2009/147/EC) and the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), and for more coherent and coordinated approaches within and between marine regions and subregions.

The Commission's 2014 report also concluded that Commission Decision 2010/477/EU on criteria and methodological standards on good environmental status of marine waters (the "GES Decision") needed to be revised, strengthened and improved to ensure that the next phase of MSFD implementation yields greater benefits. This led through a two-year scientific and technical review to a new Commission GES Decision, adopted on 17 May 2017, which contains a number of criteria and methodological standards for determining GES in relation to the 11 descriptors laid down in Annex I of the MSFD4.

On 16 January 2017, the Commission adopted a report assessing the monitoring programmes submitted by most Member States under MSFD Article 11 and verifying their compliance with the Directive. The Commission is currently assessing the programmes of measures submitted by Member States under Article 13.

The MSFD is now entering the second 6-year cycle of implementation, with updates of the initial assessment, determination of GES and environmental targets due to be reported in October 2018, followed by updating of monitoring programmes due to be reported in October 2020, and updating the programmes of measures due to be reported in March 2022.

Meanwhile, Member States have to implement the new Commission GES Decision that requires the establishment of regional or subregional threshold values for GES criteria, adapted as necessary to the different characteristics within each region or subregion, together with associated lists of elements and integration rules; these actions are intended to lead to updated, improved and more complete (sub)regional assessments.

Given the aim to achieve GES of the EU's marine waters by 2020, Member States also need to identify mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of their PoMs and to further improve their abilities to assess and report on the extent to which GES has been achieved, including through use of regional or subregional scientific indicators.

Finally, on January 16th 2018, recognising the importance of GES with regard to marine litter and acknowledging the link with plastics, the Commission made prevention of marine litter a major pillar of its Strategy for Plastics. A high number of actions envisaged by the Commission in this Strategy are directly related to marine litter. They will be supported by a number of ongoing activities launched, inter alia, under the predecessor of the present call (e.g. projects INDICIT, MEDCIS, SPICE) but also under a variety of EU financial instruments such as H2020, Interreg, or international instruments. New projects are not excluded, but they should demonstrate added value and adequate synergies with ongoing activities at national, regional and EU level.

4 Commission Decision (EU) 2017/848 of 17 May 2017 laying down criteria and methodological standards on good environmental status of marine waters and specifications and standardised methods for monitoring and assessment, and repealing Decision 2010/477/EU

 

2. OBJECTIVE(S) – THEME(S) – PRIORITIES

2.1. Purpose

The purpose of this call for proposals is to support the next 6-year cycle of MSFD implementation. The proposals should have practical outcomes which clearly contribute to the implementation of the MSFD. The successful implementation of the proposals should directly contribute to regional or subregional cooperation needs of Member States' competent authorities in their implementation of the Directive. The proposals can contribute directly to the efforts of the regional organisations, such as the Regional Sea Conventions (RSCs), as long as these are directly linked to MSFD implementation requirements. The proposals should support those (sub)regions where Member States have jointly identified certain shortcomings and are committed to address them together in a coherent manner.

2.2. General objectives

In order to make best use of the results of the projects selected from this call in relation to the MSFD reporting cycle, the following considerations are relevant: (1) the projects can build upon the outcomes of the 2018 Article 8 updates to progress implementation of the new GES Decision well in advance of the next assessments of the extent to which GES has been achieved, due in 2024; (2) the projects will run in parallel to the preparation of updated monitoring programmes, due to be reported in October 2020, and (3) they will run ahead of Member States' updating their programmes of measures (PoMs), due to be reported in March 2022. By 2021, Member States are also due to report under the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (2014/89/EU) after a regional coordination process and the MSFD PoM should be aligned and reflected in those plans.

Based on the above, the three main general objectives for this call, to support MSFD implementation, are:

  •   (1) support the (sub)regional assessment of the extent to which GES has been achieved. Focus on implementation of the new GES Decision particularly through the further development and operationalisation of indicators and the establishment of threshold values for each (sub)region, together with associated lists of elements and integration rules, which will lead to updated, improved and more complete (sub)regional assessments;

  •   (2) support the quantification of the effect of the PoMs, including through linking monitoring programmes with measures. The effect of measures should be estimated against their objective (i.e. how each measure is designed to help reaching GES and the updated environmental targets) and against their results (i.e. monitoring the effect of each measure in reducing the levels of pressures into or in the marine environment and their impacts on the marine environment), while being transparent about the methods and assumptions underlying the analysis.

  •   (3) the establishment of new (sub)regionally-coordinated measures, where needed, (for instance, in relation to pressures that need consistent or coordinated action across the (sub)region in order for the measures to be effective, measures that have synergistic effects for several descriptors or that have transboundary implications).

    Project proposals shall cover one or more of these general objectives.

 

 

2.3. Regional priorities

On the basis of the general objectives of the call, the following regional priorities for proposals are identified in order to cater for the specific needs of each region or subregion:

Baltic Sea

  •   Priority 1: Support to the development of effective regional measures for biodiversity and physical disturbance to the seafloor from fisheries and other relevant activities. The work should build on previous projects and aim to fill the gaps identified by HELCOM in the State of the Baltic Sea report5.

  •   Priority 2: Analysis of the natural conditions and reasons for not reaching GES, linking it to exceptions reported under MSFD. The work should improve the understanding of the regional conditions as well as the reasons why the Baltic Sea cannot reach GES by 2020 (e.g. historical-natural conditions, not enough implementation, climate change, continuous load) and link the results to particular exceptions reported under MSFD.

North-East Atlantic Ocean

  •   Priority 1: Support to the development and operational implementation of regional and subregional indicators, lists of elements, threshold values and integration rules to implement the GES Decision. The work should aim to fill the gaps identified by OSPAR, to finalise the list of OSPAR indicators6 and be in line with GES Decision requirements.

  •   Priority 2: Support to the development of effective regional measures for biodiversity, including physical disturbance to the seafloor from fisheries and other relevant activities and coordinated measures to protect species and habitats. The work should build on the OSPAR Biodiversity Regional Action Plan, improve the understanding of existing pressures and feed into the 2022 PoM update.

Macaronesia

  •   Priority 1: Support to the development and operational implementation of subregional indicators, lists of elements, threshold values and integration rules to implement the GES Decision. The work should target existing gaps, notably those descriptors and criteria elements that have not been targeted by previous projects, namely Mistic Seas 1 and 2.

  •   Priority 2: Bridging the gap between the Macaronesia and the NE Atlantic Ocean – towards a coordinated strategy. The work should lead to the coordination of assessments and measures between the subregion and the rest of the North-East Atlantic Ocean region, at least for those pressures that spill over from one area to the other. It should also make use of recent projects focused on biodiversity.

Mediterranean Sea

  •   Priority 1: Support to the development and operational implementation of regional indicators, lists of elements, threshold values and integration rules to implement the GES Decision. The work should target the main gaps identified in the EcAp project7 and be in line with GES Decision requirements, while building on previous projects such as ActionMed, MedCIS, IDEM, INDICIT and QuietMed.

  •   Priority 2: Complete gaps in monitoring data (with a focus on assessing the distribution, intensity and effects of the key pressures). The work should improve the data/information collection for the regional GES assessment and for the updated monitoring programmes. It should also aim to fill knowledge gaps identified in the Barcelona Convention's Quality Status Report. Work with South Mediterranean countries is encouraged.

  •   Priority 3: Support to the development of effective regional measures for biodiversity, including physical disturbance to the seafloor from fisheries and other relevant activities, and coordinated measures to protect species and habitats. The work should lead to coordination of measures, building on previous and existing projects.

Black Sea

  •   Priority 1: Support to the development and operational implementation of regional indicators, lists of elements, threshold values and integration rules to implement the GES Decision. The work should target the main gaps identified by the Member States involved8, and be in line with GES Decision requirements, while building on previous projects such as Baltic2Black, MISIS, Technical and administrative support for the joint implementation of the MSFD by the EU Black Sea Member States, and Support to the Black Sea Commission for the Implementation of the Marine Strategy.

  •   Priority 2: Complete gaps in monitoring data (with a focus on assessing the distribution, intensity and effects of the key pressures). The work should improve the data/information collection for the regional GES assessment and for the updated monitoring programmes9.

  •   Priority 3: Support to the development of effective regional measures for biodiversity, including physical disturbance to the seafloor from fisheries and other relevant activities, and coordinated measures to protect species and habitats. The work should lead to coordination of measures, building on previous and existing projects.

Project proposals shall cover one or more of these regional priorities.

The order of the priorities in the identified regions or subregions does not reflect any ranking /prioritisation. The different identified priorities in each region or subregion carry the same weight for the purpose of this call.

 

 

2.4. Supporting tasks

When implementing the project, a number of tasks should typically be considered and/or included, in order to achieve the objectives of this call. All tasks should be in line with the implementation steps of the MSFD. The expected supporting tasks are, in particular (non-exhaustive list):

  1. a)  set up working arrangements (e.g. schedule of meetings) to ensure that the respective national and regional cooperation processes will be able to contribute to and benefit from the envisaged work; successful implementation of projects funded under this call shall include establishing effective links to the relevant RSCs (to ensure coordination across the regions or subregions) and to Member State's national administrations (to ensure the outcomes are MSFD oriented);

  2. b)  ensure, where possible, that any actions proposed make best use of existing approaches and solutions already developed and agreed in other (sub)regions;

  3. c)  develop and demonstrate best practices of regional or subregional cooperation;

  4. d)  systematically use standards stemming from EU legislation, as set out in the revised GES Decision10, such as the Common Fisheries Policies (CFP)11, the Water Framework Directive12, the Habitats13 and Birds14 Directives, the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, as minimum requirements. If such standards do not exist, the projects should use the ones developed at regional or subregional level, for instance in the framework of the RSCs, or other regional mechanisms;

  5. e)  establish effective and efficient data and information management mechanisms, including a regular update of data and information products on line. Data should be made publicly available during the lifetime of the project following the "Recommendations for the publication of datasets under MSFD Article 19(3)", if possible becoming part of the corresponding Member State reporting.

  6. f)  establish regular contacts with the Commission including kick-off and final meetings in Brussels and regular reporting of activities in order to allow for appropriate discussion and feedback on the project execution;

  7. g)  organise workshops, meetings etc., inviting other relevant projects in the same region or with the same objectives as appropriate, including joint (if possible) kick-off or final meetings to foster (sub)regional cooperation, ensure synergies and efficiency gains, exchange of ideas and knowledge;

  8. h)  present the progress of work at and gather input from the relevant meetings at (sub)regional level (e.g. relevant groups established under the auspices of RSCs) and EU level (e.g. Working Groups and Technical Groups established in the context of the MSFD Common Implementation Strategy);

  9. i)  the inclusion of operational pilots can give an added value to the proposals. Such pilots could test the assumptions of the general objectives of this call, for example producing accurate estimates of the effect of certain measures, or the influence of different threshold values or integration rules. Despite their more 'local' nature, operational pilots should be regionally coordinated and relevant. The focus should go to one or a limited number of descriptors. These pilots can also explore data and information flows among EU Directives (e.g. MSFD, CFP, MSPD).

Any proposal for this call should fully take into account the relevant past or ongoing work of the RSCs, the work carried out in ICES15, the results to date of other ongoing projects, such as for example the research projects financed under FP7 or the support projects on the implementation of the MSFD (i.e. Mistic Seas 216, MedCIS17, QuietMed18, IDEM19, Indicit20, SPICE21, JMP Eunosat). Furthermore, the support projects (Technical and administrative support for the joint implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive) in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea regions22 are of particular importance and can be used and referred to when presenting a proposal.

 

3. TIMETABLE

The final deadline for the submission of proposals is the 20th June 2018 (date of post stamp).

Stages, Date and time or indicative period

a) Publication of the call
20th March 2018

b) Deadline for submitting applications
20th June 2018 – 17h00.

c) Evaluation period
July – September 2018

d) Information to applicants
15 December the latest

e) Signature of grant agreement
October – December 2018

 

 

4. BUDGET AVAILABLE

The total budget earmarked for the co-financing of projects is € 5.200.000.

The maximum EU funding rate under this Call for Proposals is 80% of eligible costs per proposal based on the project budget. The balance must be financed from the applicant's or partners' own resources, or from sources other than the European Union budget.

The Commission expects to fund approximately between 5 and 10 proposals. The indicative grant per project will be typically between € 250 000 and € 1 000 000 depending on the geographical coverage of the proposal, the number of Member States involved and the relation with the general objectives and the regional priorities as defined in sections 2.2 and 2.3, respectively.

Within the available budget, the Commission will select for funding the highest ranked proposal in each of the region or subregion identified under point 2.3 Regional priorities, provided it has passed the minimum thresholds established in section 9. If there is remaining budget available, the order of additional projects to be funded will be determined by their quality score on the basis of the criteria set in Section 9.

The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.

 

5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

The following formal requirements must be complied with in order for the proposal to proceed to the evaluation stage:

  •   Applications must be sent no later than the deadline for submitting applications referred to in section 3 (date of post stamp).

  •   Applications must be submitted in writing (see section 14), using the application form available at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/funding/grants_en.htm.

  •   Applications must be drafted in one of the EU official languages. Submission in English is strongly encouraged and will facilitate the evaluation process. For any proposal written in another EU official language, applicants are encouraged to provide a summary of their proposal in English.

Failure to comply with these requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.

 

6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

6.1. Eligible applicants

The following types of entities are allowed to participate to the call, in accordance with the relevant basic act and the objectives to be achieved:

- Applicants must be public or private authorities or bodies , registered in an EU Member State, or be an international organisation and their partners (potential co- beneficiaries of the grant) must either be registered in an EU Member State or be an international organisation or fulfil the following conditions:

  • -  Partners from third countries which are a Contracting Party to one of the four European Regional Sea Conventions23 can be associated to the action on a no-cost basis or at a maximum of 5% of the total cost for the action for each third country partner and a maximum total of 10% for all third country partners together, if this is necessary for the implementation of the action.

  • -  Authorities competent for the implementation of the MSFD in the selected area as defined in Article 7 of the MSFD;

  • -  Legal entities having a legal or capital link with applicants, which is neither limited to the action nor established for the sole purpose of its implementation (e.g. networks, federations, trade unions), may take part in the action as affiliated entities and may declare eligible costs as specified in section 11.1. For that purpose, applicants shall identify such affiliated entities in the application form. These affiliated entities have to fulfil the eligibility and exclusion criteria and therefore provide the appropriate supporting documents.

  • -  Natural persons are not eligible

    In order to assess the applicants' eligibility, the following supporting documents are requested:

- private entity: extract from the official journal, copy of articles of association, extract of trade or association register, certificate of liability to VAT (if, as in certain countries, the trade register number and VAT number are identical, only one of these documents is required);

 public entity: copy of the resolution, decision or other official document establishing the public-law entity ;

 entities without legal personality: documents providing evidence that their representative(s) have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf.

For British 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 ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of Article II.17 of the grant agreement.

 

6.2. Eligible proposals

The following conditions will be applied to proposals:

  • Proposals should cover as a minimum one marine subregion (as established according to article 4.2 of MSFD) and they shall involve at least two EU Member States within that subregion.
  • Proposals could address one or more descriptors, focusing on the main challenges for the implementation of the MSFD and matching at least one of the general objectives of this call and one of the regional priorities.
  • Proposals may include operational pilots. Such pilots give an added value to the proposals and could demonstrate, at least in part of the sea regions, that the projects results can be operational, for example producing accurate estimates of the effect of certain measures or the influence of different threshold values or integration rules. Despite their more 'local' nature, operational pilots should be regionally coordinated and relevant. The focus should go to one or a limited number of descriptors. These pilots can also explore data and information flows among EU Directives (e.g. MSFD, CFP, MSPD).
  • Proposals must be submitted jointly and implemented by beneficiaries who are public authorities or private bodies of at least two Member States within the relevant region/subregion and should include MSFD competent authorities (article 7 of MSFD) of at least two Member States;
  • Joint proposals from different regions and subregions are eligible;
  • Proposals should ensure a reasonable geographic balance across the regions and subregions.

6.3. Eligible activities

 

The activities eligible under this call will be applicable to the marine waters of Member States as defined in Article 3.1 of the MSFD, but may also encompass marine waters of non-EU countries within the marine regions defined in Art. 4, provided that such efforts are at no additional or minimal cost to the projects (see eligibility rules in section 11.).

Types of activities carried out by the beneficiary which are eligible under this call for proposals include:

  • -  design, implementation, co-ordination and management of the project;

  • -  awareness-raising, training and dissemination activities;

  • -  mechanisms for monitoring data gathering and campaigns;

  • -  organisation of workshops, meetings, conferences, seminars, that contribute to the project objectives;

  • -  cost of travel for meetings (including kick-off and final project meetings);

  • -  actions aiming at the creation and improving of networks, exchanges of good practices;

  • -  studies, analyses, action plans and mapping activities directly related to the project;

  • -  research activities

-  establishment of data and information management, including regular update of data and information products online.

Implementation period
The envisaged implementation period of activities should be between 12 months and

24 months. The optimal starting date would be the January 2019.

 

7. EXCLUSION CRITERIA

7.1. Exclusion

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, where its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, where it is in an arrangement with creditors, where its business activities are suspended, or where it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under national laws or regulations;

(b) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the law of the country in which it is established, with those of the country in which the authorising officer is located or those of the country of the performance of the contract;

(c) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant 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 conduct which has an impact on its professional credibility where such conduct denotes wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:

 

  • fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of selection criteria or in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision;
  • entering into agreement with other applicants with the aim of distorting competition;
  • violating intellectual property rights;
  • attempting to influence the decision-making process of the Commission during the award procedure;
  • 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:

  1. (i)  fraud, within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;

  2. (ii)  corruption, as defined in 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, and in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, as well as corruption as defined in the law of the country where the contracting authority is located, the country in which the applicant is established or the country of the performance of the contract;

  3. (iii)  participation in a criminal organisation, as defined in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;

  4. (iv)  money laundering or terrorist financing, as defined in Article 1 of Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council;

  5. (v)  terrorist-related 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;

  6. (vi)  child labour or other forms of trafficking in human beings as defined 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) for the situations of grave professional misconduct, fraud, corruption, other criminal offences, significant deficiencies in the performance of the contract or irregularity, the applicant is subject to:

  1. (i)  facts established in the context of audits or investigations carried out by the Court of Auditors, OLAF or internal audit, 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;

  2. (ii)  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;

  3. (iii)  decisions of the ECB, the EIB, the European Investment Fund or international organisations;

  4. (iv) decisions of the Commission relating to the infringement of the Union's competition rules or of a national competent authority relating to the infringement of Union or national competition law.

  5. (v) decisions of exclusion by an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body.

 

Remedial measures

If an applicant declares one of the situations of exclusion listed above (see section 7.4), it should 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 prevent further occurrence, compensation of damage or payment of fines. 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 authorising officer shall not award a grant to an applicant who:

  1. is in an exclusion situation established in accordance with section 7.1;

  2. has misrepresented the information required as a condition for participating in the procedure or has failed to supply that information;

  3. was previously involved in the preparation of calls for proposal documents where this entails a distortion of competition that cannot be remedied otherwise.

The same exclusion criteria apply to affiliated entities.

Administrative and financial penalties may be imposed on applicants, or affiliated entities where applicable, who are guilty of misrepresentation.

7.4. Supporting documents

Applicants and affiliated entities must provide a declaration on their honour certifying that they are not in one of the situations referred to in articles 106(1) and 107 FR, by filling in the relevant form attached to the application form accompanying the call for proposals and available at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/funding/grants_en.htm.

This obligation may be fulfilled in one of the following ways:

  • (i) (the coordinator of a consortium signs a declaration on behalf of all applicants and their affiliated entities OR
  • (ii) each applicant in the consortium signs a declaration in its name and on behalf its affiliated entities OR
  • (iii) each applicant in the consortium and the affiliated entities sign each a separate declaration in their own name]

 

 

8. SELECTION CRITERIA

Applicants must have the operational and financial capacity required to implement and complete the proposed action.

8.1. Financial capacity

Applicants must have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the duration of the grant and to participate in its funding. The applicants' financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the following supporting documents to be submitted with the application:

a) Grants ≥ EUR 60 000:
 a declaration on their honour and

EITHER

  •   the profit and loss account as well as the balance sheet for the last financial year for which the accounts were closed;

  •   for newly created entities: the business plan might replace the above documents;

    OR

b) Grants for an action ≥ EUR 750 000:

 the Financial Capacity Form (Annex B) in excel format, filled in with the relevant statutory accounting figures, in order to calculate the ratios as detailed in the form.

  •   the information and supporting documents mentioned in point a) above and

  •   an audit report produced by an approved external auditor certifying the accounts for the last financial year available.

The assessment of the financial capacity does not apply to public bodies or international organisations, which are not required to provide the above-mentioned supporting documents.

In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above thresholds apply to each applicant.

On the basis of the documents submitted, if the Responsible Authorising Officer (RAO) considers that financial capacity is weak, s/he may:

  •   request further information;

  •   decide not to give pre-financing;

  •   decide to give pre-financing paid in instalments;

  •   decide to give pre-financing covered by a bank guarantee (see section 11.4 below);

  •   where applicable, require the joint and several financial liability of all the co- beneficiaries.

    If the RAO considered that the financial capacity is insufficient s/he will reject the application.

8.2. Operational capacity

Applicants must have the professional competencies as well as appropriate qualifications necessary to complete the proposed action. In this respect, applicants have to submit a declaration on their honour, and the following supporting documents:

  •   description of the profile of the people primarily responsible (maximum one page) for managing and implementing the operation (accompanied where appropriate, like in the field of research and education, by a list of relevant publications), relevant professional experience (including national officials in charge of the implementation of MSFD;

  •   the organisation's activity reports;

  •   a list of the five most relevant previous projects and activities performed and

    connected to the policy field of this call or to the actions to be carried out;

    If, during the lifetime of the project, the proposed team should be adapted, the description of the profile or a curriculum vitae of new team members primarily responsible for managing and implementing the operation shall be submitted to the Commission before they start working for the project.

    A standard model for the curriculum vitae (CV) can be easily downloaded from the following webpage: http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/en/documents/curriculum-vitae

 

 

9. AWARD CRITERIA
9.1. Award criteria
Eligible applications/projects will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria: Award criteria

- Relevance and added value: Relevance of the proposal and its expected results to achieve the objectives of the action; Added value of the proposal in terms of innovation, originality, synergies, geographical coverage, capacity to involve and promote dialogue and cooperation with relevant stakeholders.

- Project implementation: Effectiveness and coherence of the work plan. Feasibility in terms of activities and timetable. Appropriate and balanced allocation of tasks and human resources. Appropriate project management set-up. Adequate risk management.

- Cost –effectiveness: Clearly presented and appropriate budget involving a cost –effective allocation of financial resources in relation to the expected results and the planned activities and outputs.

- Impact: Dissemination, sustainability and transferability of the expected results.

The award criteria and certain indicative aspects which will be considered for the evaluation of each criterion are provided in the table below.

Award Criteria

Indicative aspects

Relevance and added value (max points: 30, min points: 15)

Scope of the project, relevance of the proposal and its expected results to achieve the objective(s) and priority(-ies) of the Call

Direct contribution to the implementation of the MSFD, the new GES Decision and the regional or subregional cooperation needs of Member States

Added value of the proposal in terms of innovation, demonstration, and capacity to involve and promote dialogue and cooperation with relevant stakeholders (i.e. key national and regional organisations, such as Regional Sea Conventions and national implementation leads for MSFD)

Strategy for increasing synergies and avoiding overlaps with major relevant international projects and activities

Added value demonstrated by the potential for dissemination and the likelihood of transferability of the results to other (sub)regions

Project implementation (max points: 40, min points: 20)

Quality of the description of work; proposals should be clear, detailed, coherent, realistic and feasible in terms of actions and timetable 

Identification and understanding of the issues involved and the specific needs of the proposal

Identification of distinct, relevant and realistic results and deliverables

Effectiveness and rationality of the proposed methodology, organisation and management structure (including timetable and monitoring of progress)

Proposed assessment mechanisms (quality control and risk management)

 


 

Cost-effectiveness (max points: 20, min points: 10)

Consistency with the technical proposal, feasibility of proposed project in terms of availability of resources and coherence with timetables

Quality and clarity of the budget, consistency of the expenditures with the foreseen activities

Cost-effectiveness (allocation of resources in relation to the expected outputs)

Impact (including Geographic coverage) (max points: 10, min points: 5)

Geographic coverage (ideally proposals submitted jointly covering all EU Member States in a region for the Black Sea and Baltic Sea regions or subregion for the Mediterranean Sea and the NE Atlantic Ocean regions)

Expected impact demonstrated by actual dissemination of best practices and potential for transferability of the approaches and results to other (sub)regions

Potential outreach to non-EU countries, in particular those being contracting parties of one of the four Regional Sea Conventions

The maximum points that can be attributed to a proposal are 100. Proposals have to reach the minimum quality threshold (50 % of the maximum possible score) for each criterion, as indicated above. Moreover, proposals that, following the evaluation process, do not reach a global score of at least 65 points will not be considered for co-funding. Applications should elaborate on all points addressed by this call for proposals in order to score as many points as possible.

Financial contribution shall be awarded to the highest ranked proposal in each of the region or subregion identified under point 2.3 (Regional priorities), provided it has passed the minimum thresholds of 65 points. If there is remaining budget available, the order of additional projects to be co-funded will be determined by their quality score on the basis of the award criteria.

 

 

10. LEGAL COMMITMENTS

In the event of a grant awarded by the Commission, a grant agreement, drawn up in euro and detailing the conditions and level of funding, will be sent to the applicant, as well as the information on the procedure to formalise the agreement of the parties.

 

11. FINANCIAL PROVISIONS
11.1 Eligible costs
Eligible costs shall meet all the following criteria:

  •   they are incurred by the beneficiary.

  •   they are incurred during the duration of the action, with the exception of costs

    relating to final reports and audit certificates;

o The period of eligibility of costs will start as specified in the grant agreement.

o If a beneficiary can demonstrate the need to start the action before the agreement is signed, the costs eligibility period may start before that signature. Under no circumstances can the eligibility period start before the date of submission of the grant application.

  •   they are indicated in the estimated budget;

  •   they are necessary for the implementation of the action which is the subject of the grant;

  •   they are identifiable and verifiable, in particular being recorded in the accounting records of the beneficiary and determined according to the applicable accounting standards of the country where the beneficiary is established and according to the usual cost accounting practices of the beneficiary;

  •   they comply with the requirements of applicable tax and social legislation;

  •   they are reasonable, justified, and comply with the requirements of sound

financial management, in particular regarding economy and efficiency.

The beneficiary's internal accounting and auditing procedures must permit direct reconciliation of the costs and revenue declared in respect of the action/project with the corresponding accounting statements and supporting documents.

The same criteria apply to costs incurred by the affiliated entities. Eligible costs may be direct or indirect.

11.1.1. Eligible direct costs

The eligible direct costs for the action are those costs which, with due regard for the conditions of eligibility set out above, are identifiable as specific costs directly linked to the performance of the action and which can therefore be booked to it directly, such as :

(a) the costs of personnel working under an employment contract with the beneficiary or an equivalent appointing act and assigned to the action, provided that these costs are in line with the beneficiary’s usual policy on remuneration.

Those costs include actual salaries plus social security contributions and other statutory costs included in the remuneration. They may also comprise additional remunerations, including payments on the basis of supplementary contracts regardless of the nature of those contracts, provided that they are paid in a consistent manner whenever the same kind of work or expertise is required, independently from the source of funding used;

The costs of natural persons working under a contract with the beneficiary other than an employment contract or who are seconded to the beneficiary by a third party against payment may also be included under such personnel costs, provided that the following conditions are fulfilled:

  1. (i)  the person works under conditions similar to those of an employee (in particular regarding the way the work is organised, the tasks that are performed and the premises where they are performed);

  2. (ii)  the result of the work belongs to the beneficiary (unless exceptionally agreed otherwise); and

  3. (iii)  the costs are not significantly different from the costs of staff performing similar tasks under an employment contract with the beneficiary;

The recommended methods for calculation of direct personnel costs are provided in Appendix 1 and 2.

(b)  costs of travel and related subsistence allowances, provided that these costs are in line with the beneficiary’s usual practices on travel;

(c)  the depreciation costs of equipment or other assets (new or second-hand) as recorded in the beneficiary’s accounting statements, provided that the asset:

  • (i) is written off in accordance with the international accounting standards and the beneficiary’s usual accounting practices; and
  • (ii) has been purchased in accordance with the rules on implementation contracts laid down in the grant agreement, if the purchase occurred within the implementation period;

The costs of renting or leasing equipment or other assets are also eligible, provided that these costs do not exceed the depreciation costs of similar equipment or assets and are exclusive of any finance fee;

Only the portion of the equipment’s depreciation, rental or lease costs corresponding to the implementation period and the rate of actual use for the purposes of the action may be taken into account when determining the eligible costs. By way of exception, the full cost of purchase of equipment may be eligible under the Special Conditions, if this is justified by the nature of the action and the context of the use of the equipment or assets;

(d) costs of consumables and supplies, provided that they:

  • (i) are purchased in accordance with the rules on implementation contracts laid down in the grant agreement; and
  • (ii) are directly assigned to the action;

(e)  costs arising directly from requirements imposed by the Agreement (dissemination of information, specific evaluation of the action, audits, translations, reproduction), including the costs of requested financial guarantees, provided that the corresponding services are purchased in accordance with the rules on implementation contracts laid down in the grant agreement;

(f)  costs entailed by subcontracts, provided that specific conditions on subcontracting as laid down in the grant agreement are met;

(g)  costs of financial support to third parties, provided that the conditions laid down in the grant agreement are met;

(h)  duties, taxes and charges paid by the beneficiary, notably value added tax (VAT), provided that they are included in eligible direct costs, and unless specified otherwise in the grant agreement.

 

N.B. Applicants must include in their budget proposal the costs for participation of maximum 2 representatives of the consortium (including at least one representative of the coordinating organisation) in up to three project meetings organised at EU level during the project lifetime.

 

11.1.2. Eligible indirect costs (overheads)

Indirect costs are costs that are not directly linked to the action implementation and therefore cannot be attributed directly to it.

A flat-rate amount of 7% of the total eligible direct costs of the action is eligible as indirect costs, representing the beneficiary's general administrative costs which can be regarded as chargeable to the action/project.

Indirect costs may not include costs entered under another budget heading.

Applicants’ attention is drawn to the fact that if they are receiving an operating grant financed by the EU or Euratom budget, they may not declare indirect costs for the period(s) covered by the operating grant, unless they can demonstrate that the operating grant does not cover any costs of the action.

In order to demonstrate this, in principle, the beneficiary should:

a. use analytical cost accounting that allows to separate all costs (including overheads) attributable to the operating grant and the action grant. For that purpose the beneficiary should use reliable accounting codes and allocation keys ensuring that the allocation of the costs is done in a fair, objective and realistic way.

b. record separately:

  •  all costs incurred for the operating grants (i.e. personnel, general running costs and other operating costs linked to the part of its usual annual activities), and
  •  all costs incurred for the action grants (including the actual indirect costs linked to the action)

If the operating grant covers the entire usual annual activity and budget of the beneficiary, the latter is not entitled to receive any indirect costs under the action grant.

11.2 Ineligible costs

  1. a)  return on capital and dividends paid by a beneficiary;

  2. b)  debt and debt service charges;

  3. c)  provisions for losses or debts;

  4. d)  interest owed;

  5. e)  doubtful debts;

  6. f)  exchange losses;

  7. g)  costs of transfers from the Commission charged by the bank of a beneficiary;

  8. h)  costs declared by the beneficiary under another action receiving a grant financed from the Union budget. Such grants include grants awarded by a Member State and financed from the Union budget and grants awarded by bodies other than the Commission for the purpose of implementing the Union budget. In particular, beneficiaries receiving an operating grant financed by the EU or Euratom budget cannot declare indirect costs for the period(s) covered by the operating grant, unless they can demonstrate that the operating grant does not cover any costs of the action.

  9. i)  contributions in kind from third parties;

  10. j)  excessive or reckless expenditure;

  11. k)  deductible VAT.

11.3 Form of the grant

11.3.1 Reimbursement of costs actually incurred

The grant will be defined by applying a maximum co-financing rate of 80 % to the eligible costs actually incurred and declared by the beneficiary and its affiliated entities.

Conditions for compliance of the beneficiary's usual cost accounting practices:

The beneficiary must ensure that the cost accounting practices used for the purpose of declaring eligible costs are in compliance with the following conditions:

  1. (a)  the cost accounting practices that are used must constitute the usual cost accounting practices of the beneficiary. The beneficiary must apply those practices in a consistent manner, based on objective criteria irrespective of the source of funding (EU financing or other);

  2. (b)  the costs declared can be directly reconciled with the amounts recorded in its general accounts; and

  3. (c) the categories of costs used for the purpose of determining the costs declared do not include any ineligible costs or costs already covered by other forms of grant.

11.4 Balanced budget

The estimated budget of the action must be attached to the application form. It must have revenue and expenditure in balance.

The budget must be drawn up in euros.

Applicants for whom costs will not be incurred in euros should use the exchange rate published on the Infor-euro website available at: http://ec.europa.eu/budget/contracts_grants/info_contracts/inforeuro/inforeuro_en.cfm

The applicant must ensure that the resources which are necessary to carry out the action the work programme are not be entirely provided by the EU grant.

Co-financing of the action may take the form of:

  •   the beneficiary's own resources,

  •   income generated by the action or work programme,

  •   financial contributions from third parties.

Overall co-financing may also include in-kind contributions from third parties, i.e. non- financial resources made available free of charge by third parties to the beneficiary or to the consortium. The corresponding costs of third parties are not eligible under the grant, e.g. volunteer work, providing a meeting room for free, etc.

The value of the contribution in kind must not exceed:

  •   either the costs actually borne and duly supported by accounting documents;

  •   or, in the absence of such documents, the costs generally accepted on the market in question.

In-kind contributions shall be presented separately in the estimated budget to reflect the total resources allocated to the action. Their unit value is evaluated in the provisional budget and shall not be subject to subsequent changes.

In-kind contributions shall comply with national tax and social security rules.

11.5 Calculation of the final grant amount

The final amount of the grant is calculated by the Commission at the time of the payment of the balance. The calculation involves the following steps:

Step 1 — Application of the reimbursement rate to the eligible costs

The amount under step 1 is obtained by application of the reimbursement rate specified in section 11.3.1 to the eligible costs accepted by the Commission.

 

Step 2 — Limit to the maximum amount of the grant

 

The total amount paid to the beneficiaries by the Commission may in no circumstances exceed the maximum amount of the grant as indicated in the grant agreement. If the amount obtained following Step 1 is higher than this maximum amount, the final amount of the grant is limited to the latter.

Step 3 — Reduction due to the no-profit rule

‘Profit’ means the surplus of the amount obtained following Steps 1 and 2 plus the total receipts of the action, over the total eligible costs of the action.

The total eligible costs of the action are the consolidated total eligible costs approved by the Commission. The total receipts of the action are the consolidated total receipts established, generated or confirmed on the date on which the request for payment of the balance is drawn up by the beneficiary.

The following are considered receipts:

(a) income generated by the action;

(b) financial contributions given by third parties to a beneficiary or to an affiliated entity, if they are specifically assigned by the third parties to the financing of the eligible costs of the action reimbursed by the Commission.

The following are not considered receipts:

(a) financial contributions by third parties, if they may be used to cover costs other than the eligible costs under the grant agreement;

(b) financial contributions by third parties with no obligation to repay any amount unused at the end of the implementation period.

If there is a profit, it will be deducted in proportion to the final rate of reimbursement of the actual eligible costs of the action approved by the Commission.

Step 4 — Reduction due to improper implementation or breach of other obligations.

The Commission may reduce the maximum amount of the grant if the action has not been implemented properly (i.e. if it has not been implemented or has been implemented poorly, partially or late), or if another obligation under the Agreement has been breached.

The amount of the reduction will be proportionate to the degree to which the action has been implemented improperly or to the seriousness of the breach.

11.6 Reporting and payment arrangements

11.6.1 Payment arrangements

The beneficiary may request the following payments provided that the conditions of the grant agreement are fulfilled (e.g. payment deadlines, ceilings, etc.). The payment requests shall be accompanied by the documents provided below and detailed in the grant agreement:

 

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