1. INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND
1.1. Programme/Legal Basis
This call for proposals is published under REGULATION (EU) No 1296/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on a European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation ("EaSI")1 and amending Decision No 283/2010/EU establishing a European Progress Microfinance Facility for employment and social inclusion.
The European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation "EaSI" 2014-20202 is a European-level financing instrument managed directly by the European Commission to contribute to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy, by providing financial support for the Union's objectives in terms of promoting a high level of quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions.
The EaSI Programme shall, in all its axes and actions, aim to:
(a) pay particular attention to vulnerable groups, such as young people;
(b) promote equality between women and men,
(c) combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation;
(d) promote a high-level of quality and sustainable employment, guarantee adequate and decent social protection, combat long-term unemployment and fight against poverty and social exclusion.
Hence, in designing, implementing and reporting on the activity, beneficiaries/contractors must address the issues noted above and will be required to provide detail, in the final activity report on the steps and achievements made towards addressing those aims.
The Annual work programme acting as financing decision C(2018)6891 was adopted by the Commission on 25/10/2018.
1.2. Policy and general background
The general aim of this Call for Proposals is to fund initiatives in order to enhance the implementation and correct application of Directive 96/71/EC and Directive (EU) 2018/957 amending Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the transnational provision of services, as well as the implementation of the Enforcement Directive 2014/67/EU3.
Member States are to transpose Directive (EU) 2018/957 into national law by 30 July 2020 and apply the related measures no earlier than that date.
A European Labour Authority (ELA) will soon be established4. This new EU body will focus on EU legislation in the fields of cross-border labour mobility and social security legislation, thus including the posting of workers. It will have the tasks of facilitate access to information to citizens and employers; facilitate cooperation and the exchange of information between Member States with a view to the consistent, efficient and effective application of Union law in the field of labour mobility; coordinate and support concerted and joint inspections; carry out analyses and risk assessments on issues of cross-border labour mobility; support Member States with capacity-building; support Member States in tackling undeclared work; and mediate in disputes between Member States.
Some initiatives with the aim to promote administrative cooperation and mutual understanding and fund initiatives relating to the application and enforcement in practice of the applicable rules, have been carried out in the past under the Pilot Projects on "Working and Living Conditions of Posted Workers" (VP/2009/015 and VP/2010/011). A similar call to this one was launched during the last years (VP/2013/008, VP/2014/007, VP/2015/007, VP/2016/006, VP/2017/003 and VP/2018/011). Furthermore, a call for proposals for preparatory actions with a view to create information centres for migrant and posted workers was launched in 2013 (VP/2013/011) and 2014 (VP/2014/005). No similar call was launched from 2015 onwards.
2. OBJECTIVES, TYPES OF ACTION AND EXPECTED OUTPUTS
2.1. General objectives
This call intends to support the Commission and the Member States to understand existing and new challenges and develop initiatives in the field of posting of workers and a decent work agenda.
The proper functioning of administrative cooperation between Member States and improved access to information on applicable terms and conditions of employment and administrative requirements for companies in a transparent and accessible manner, are essential for the correct application, implementation and enforcement of the Directives.
In order to achieve the objective, it is intended with this call for proposals to fund transnational cooperation initiatives (see section 6.2.a) aiming at developing autonomous and concrete initiatives by the relevant stakeholders involved in the context of posting with a significant and lasting impact on workers, companies and administrations.
2.2. Specific objectives
The specific objectives of this call for proposals are the following:
a) To promote transnational cooperation among competent public authorities and stakeholders, including the promotion of the use Internal Market Information (IMI) and sharing of information and best practices in this respect.
b) To increase the accessibility, transparency and quality of the information concerning the terms and conditions of employment and/or of the administrative requirements to be respected, and/or of the existing practices in the Member States to monitor and enforce the provisions of the Posting of Workers directives;
c) To promote the evidence basis through the collection and evaluation of original data, analysis and information specific to the posting process, including through the collaboration between universities across various disciplines, research centres and institutes, and stakeholders.
2.3. Types of action
The following actions may be co-financed:
a) Cooperation: developing new or improving existing exchanges, peer reviews and/or training programmes (for example joint visits, joint inspections, short training actions) between officials of competent public authorities and/or between relevant social partners and stakeholders in the contexts of monitoring the compliance with and enforcement of the applicable rules in relation to posted workers, and/or of administrative cooperation and mutual assistance, including the use of the Internal Market Information System (IMI).
b) Information: developing, upgrading and improving online platforms for the collection and dissemination of quality, user-friendly, and specific information targeted at workers and/or undertakings with respect to the working conditions applicable to posted workers (for example single official national websites), the procedures and conditions to be respected by undertakings in different Member States, and other relevant information for the posting of workers in the context of the provision of cross-border services.
c) Evidence:developmentofjointresearchprojectsondifferentdimensionsofthe posting of workers in the context of the transnational provision of services and dissemination of results through targeted publication strategies, both in the scientific domain as well as in the specialised and general press.
Applicants are encouraged to develop actions cutting across the above- mentioned three strands in their proposal (Applicants are required to align their proposed actions with activities on administrative cooperation in the field of posting necessary for social security coordination under the Regulation (EC) No 883/2004)
The first work programme of the European Labour Authority (ELA) will be adopted in the course of the implementation of the actions, presumably by early 2020. While applicants cannot be aware of its content at the stage of application, successful projects may be required to attend an information session on the ELA work programme with a view on aligning actions to it as much as possible.
2.4. Expected partnerships and outputs - Requirements
The scope of this Call is to support actions that bear a lasting impact on administrations, companies and/or workers, beyond the duration of the action.
In order to cater for a more significant impact of the actions, the composition of the network will be carefully evaluated. In particular, priority will be given to projects based on consortia with one or more of the following characteristics: (a) involving a balanced and justified distribution of partners established in sending and receiving countries in the context of a specific flow of posted workers; (b) enabling a sector-specific focus in the action (e.g. construction, road transport, care sectors) of the action; (c) enabling a comprehensive focus in the action through a heterogeneous composition of partners, in terms of a balanced inclusion of, for example, both workers' and employers' representatives, or of both social partners and competent authorities, or of both research institutes and stakeholders with a more operational mandate such as competent public authorities (e.g. national labour inspectorates).
Moreover, in light of the incoming set-up of the European Labour Authority and in order to cater for a lasting impact of the action, the projects are expected to deliver outputs that ensure either the sustainability of the same action by the partners in the project or its potential transferability to other Member States or organisations, including the European Labour Authority in the future.
The proposals must therefore include: a) a (set of) tangible deliverables to be produced as the final output of the action (e.g. information fiches, reports, a website) that are suitable for sustained use, transferability or as a continued learning resource; and b) a plan for communication and dissemination of the projects' results specifying the targeted audience that will follow up and / or use these deliverables beyond the duration of the action.
At final report stage, the awarded applicants will be required to provide details about the deliverables produced, including links to the website (if any), copies of the information, research, report material, topics discussed during meetings, about how and to whom the results, best practices and findings have been disseminated, about and how interested parties have been involved in the project.
The Commission, with the support of an external contractor, will monitor regularly the EaSI Programme. Therefore, beneficiaries will have to transmit qualitative and quantitative monitoring data on the results of the activities. These will include the and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 in order to avoid overlaps with activities in this field. Any such activities should be indicated in section D.3 of the SWIM application form or in the document n° 12 in the checklist (see section 15)
extent to which the principles of equality between women and men has been applied, as well as how anti-discrimination considerations, including accessibility issues, have been addressed through the activities. Related templates are attached or will be provided.
In setting up the action, beneficiaries must foresee the necessary funding for monitoring and reporting to the Commission.
For events, it is important to get from participants their specific consent by a statement or by a clear affirmative action for processing and transferring their personal data including to an external contractor responsible for the monitoring of the EaSI programme. Beneficiaries/contractors should therefore inform all participants via a Privacy Statement that is not only published online, but is also provided individually to each participant (e.g. as part of the email where the beneficiary/contractor first contacts the individual concerned) that the Commission/external contractor would be processing their personal data. Beneficiaries/contractors shall be able to demonstrate that consent was obtained subject to conditions of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2018 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and on the free movement of such data (i.e. keep a record that shows how the consent was obtained and whether it was valid) and Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data.
A model privacy statement is available on the Europa website of the EaSI programme
a) Publication of the call
b) Deadline for submitting proposals (reference to the date of sending)
13 June 2019 Swim, Courier and Post : 24:00 Brussels' time (CET)
Hand deliveries 16:00 Brussels' time (CET)
c) Deadline for questions and requests for clarification
03 June 2019 24:00 Brussels' time (CET)
d) Evaluation period (indicative)
e) Information to applicants (indicative)
f) Signature of the grant agreement (indicative)
3.1. Starting date and duration of the projects
The actual starting date of the action will either be the first day following the date when the last of the two parties signs the grant agreement, the first day of the month following the date when the last of the two parties signs or a date agreed upon between the parties.
Applicants should note that if their project is selected, they may receive the grant agreement after the start date of the action that they have indicatively set in the application form. It is therefore advisable to number the months in the work programme instead of indicating the name of the month.
Any expenditure incurred before the signature of the Grant Agreement will be at the applicant’s risk. No expenditure can be incurred before the date of submission of the application.
An action grant may be awarded for an action which has already begun only where the applicant can demonstrate in the grant application the need to start the action before the grand agreement is signed.
The project's duration should indicatively be between twelve (12) months and twenty- four (24) month. The action shall start at the latest from 1 January 2020.
4. AVAILABLE BUDGET AND CO-FINANCING RATE
4.1. Available budget
The total budget earmarked for the EU co-financing of projects under this call is estimated at EUR 3,000,000.
The present call requires applicants to ensure a broad geographical coverage and the set-up of sizeable consortia. Thus, and for illustrative purposes, the Commission expects to award 5-7 grants.
The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available or to increase the budget if additional funds may be made available.
4.2. Co-financing rate
Under this call for proposals, the EU grant may not exceed 80.00 % of the total eligible costs of the action. The applicants must guarantee their co-financing of the remaining amount covered by the applicants' own resources or from other sources other than the European Union budget6.
5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
- Applications must be sent no later than the deadline for submission referred to in section 3(b)
Failure to comply with the above requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.
Applicants are encouraged to submit their project proposal in English, in order to facilitate the treatment of the proposals and speed up the evaluation process. It should be noted, however, that proposals in all official languages of the EU will be accepted. In this case, applications should be accompanied by an executive summary in English (see section 15, checklist point 2).
6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
6.1. Eligibility of the applicants (lead and co-applicants) and affiliated entities7
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, British beneficiaries 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.17.3.1(a) for multi-beneficiary Grant Agreements.
a) Place of establishment
Legal entities properly established and registered in the following countries8 are eligible as lead applicant and co-applicants:
EU Member States;
Iceland and Norway in accordance with the EEA Agreement;
Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey9
Organisations established in countries other than those listed above may participate in the project as "associate organisations" provided their participation serves the aim of the action and exclusively on a no-cost basis, i.e. they cannot be responsible for carrying out project activities for which they incur costs. For example, it will not be possible to organise events or activities in countries not listed above. However, expenses for participants from organisations in non-EaSI Progress participating countries may be included in the budget (see section 18.104.22.168 of the Financial Guidelines published with this call).These organisations will not be a party of the grant agreement concluded with the Commission. Their role shall be described in the description of the action.
b) Type of entities
To be eligible, lead applicants, co-applicants and affiliated entities must fall in one of the following categories:
Non-profit organisations (private or public);
Higher education establishments;
Civil society organisations,
To be eligible, actions must:
For the purpose of reaching the threshold of applicants or co-applicants based in four different Member States or other eligible EaSI-Progress participating countries, European-level organisations such as a European confederation of national associations (e.g. a European trade union), will be considered in relation to their country of establishment. Therefore, a project involving as an applicant a European association or a legally constituted consortium legally established, for example, in Belgium will need to involve organisations from three additional Member States or other eligible Easi-Progress participating countries, in order to be eligible.
If the lead applicant is not considered to be eligible, the application will be rejected.
If a co-applicant is considered not to be eligible, this organisation will be removed from the consortium and the eligibility of the modified consortium will be re-evaluated. In addition, the costs that are allocated to a non-eligible co-applicant will be removed from the budget. If the modified consortium is still eligible, the application will be evaluated on that basis. If the application is selected for funding, the work plan will have to be adapted as appropriate.
d) Affiliated entities
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 and which satisfy the eligibility criteria, may take part in the action as affiliated entities, and may declare eligible costs. For that purpose, applicants shall identify such affiliated entities in the application form.
6.2. Eligible activities
a) Geographical Location
To be eligible, activities must be carried out in at least 4 EaSI-participating countries (see point 6.1 a), which may also be different from those where the applicant organisations are established. However, coverage of more than 4 countries will be considered as an added value for the proposal.
b) Types of activities
The grant will finance inter alia the activities indicated in section 2.3.
c) Core activities
The following activities are considered to be core activities and may not be subcontracted:
6.3. Ineligible activities
Financial support to third parties as defined in point 3 of the Financial Guidelines is not eligible under this call.
7. EXCLUSION CRITERIA
Applicant(s) (lead applicant and each co-applicant) must sign a declaration on their honour signed in their name (and on behalf of the affiliated entities, should they be part of the application), certifying that they are not in one of the situations referred to in article 136 and 141 of the Financial Regulation concerning exclusion and rejection from the procedure respectively, using the relevant form attached to the application form available at https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/swim/external/displayWelcome.do.
7.2 Rejection from the call for proposals
The Commission shall not award a grant to an applicant organisation which:
a. is in an exclusion situation established in accordance with Article 136 FR; or;
b. has misrepresented the information required as a condition for participating in the procedure or has failed to supply this information; or
c. was previously involved in the preparation of call documents used in the award procedure where this entails breach of the principle of equality of treatment, including a distortion of competition that cannot be remedied otherwise.
The same exclusion criteria apply to any affiliated entities which must, therefore, be included in the above-mentioned declaration(s).
Administrative sanctions may be imposed on applicants, or affiliated entities where applicable, who are guilty of misrepresentation, if any of the declarations or information provided as a condition for participating in this procedure prove to be false.
8. SELECTION CRITERIA
The applicant (lead and each co-applicant) must have the financial and operational capacity to complete the activity for which funding is requested. Only organisations with the necessary financial and operational capacity may be considered for a grant.
8.1. Financial capacity
Applicants (lead and co-applicants) must have access to solid and adequate funding (i.e. be considered as having a strong financial capacity) to maintain their activities for the period of the action and to help finance it as necessary.
The verification of financial capacity will not apply to public bodies or to international organisations.
The applicant's (lead and each co-applicant) financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the following supporting documents to be submitted with the application:
Where applicable, the Commission may nevertheless request further information at any stage of the procedure, proceed to further verifications and take various proportional measures depending on the level of weaknesses identified.
for newly created entities: the business plan might replace the above documents;
Summary balance sheet and profit and loss accounts using the template provided in SWIM (see section 12) and signed by the legal representative (see section 15, checklist point 16);
information on the financial capacity provided by the applicant and in particular the information provided in section "Financial Resources" of the SWIM application form
for grants exceeding EUR 750 000 per beneficiary or affiliated entity, an audit report produced by an approved external auditor certifying the accounts for the last financial year available where such an audit report is available or whenever a statutory audit report is required by Union or national law.
In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above thresholds apply to each applicant not to the consortium as a whole.
The ratio between the total assets in the applicant’s (single, lead and co-applicant(s)) balance sheet and the total budget of the project or the part of the project budget for which that organisation is responsible according to the budget in the application form would be considered strong if it is equal or greater than 0.65.
If the lead applicant is considered not to have a strong financial capacity, the application as a whole will be rejected.
If a co-applicant or several co-applicants are considered not to have a strong financial capacity, the Commission will also take into account any other relevant information on the financial capacity provided by the applicant and in particular the information provided in section "Financial Resources" of the SWIM application form.
After this further analysis, the Commission will take various proportional measures depending on the level of weaknesses identified, which may be to:
reject the whole application;
remove the co-applicant from the consortium and re-evaluate the proposal without this co-applicant;
propose a Grant Agreement without pre-financing;
propose a grant agreement with a pre-financing paid in several instalments;
propose a Grant Agreement with pre-financing payment(s) covered by (a) financial guarantee(s);
propose a Grant Agreement with joint financial liability of 2 or more applicants/co-applicants,
propose a Grant Agreement with a mix of the measures 4, 5 and 6;
In the case of mitigating measure 5, the Commission may request a pre-financing guarantee for up to the same amount as the pre-financing in order to limit the financial risks linked to the pre-financing payment.
The financial guarantee, in euro currency, shall be provided by an approved bank or financial institution established in one of the EU Member States. When the beneficiary is established in a third country, the Commission may agree that a bank or financial institution established in that third country may provide the guarantee if it considers that the bank or financial institution offers equivalent security and characteristics as those offered by a bank or financial institution established in a Member State. Amounts blocked in bank accounts shall not be accepted as financial guarantees.
The guarantee shall be released as the pre-financing is cleared against the payment of the balance, in accordance with the conditions laid down in the grant agreement.
8.2. Operational capacity
Applicant's (lead and each co-applicant) must have the professional competencies as well as appropriate qualifications necessary to complete the proposed action. In particular, applicants must have:
A strong track record of competence and experience in the fields of free movement of workers or labour mobility in the last three years;
The operational capacity of the applicant (lead and co-applicant) to complete the proposed action must be confirmed by the submission in the proposal of the following:
A list of the main projects relating to the subject of the call carried out in the last three years and demonstrating competence and experience in the type of actions proposed in this call (see section 15, checklist point 14);
The CVs of the proposed project co-ordinator and of the persons who will perform the main tasks, showing all their relevant professional experience (see section 15, checklist point 13);
If the lead applicant is considered not to have the required operational capacity, the application as a whole will be rejected. If a co-applicant is considered not to have the required operational capacity, this co-applicant will be removed from the consortium and the application will be evaluated without this co-applicant13. In addition, the costs that are allocated to the non-selected co-applicant will be removed from the budget. If the application is selected, the work programme will have to be adapted as appropriate.