The European Commission adopted on 14 September 2016 a financing decision for a preparatory action in the field of online learning and skills, with a particular focus on migrants.
The economic crisis contributed to severe cuts on the employment market, in particular for the low-skilled workers across the EU. The lack of opportunities for low-skilled workers increases their risk of exclusion, not only from the labour market, but also from society as a whole, with societal cleavages in the form of inequalities increasing. Migrants, in general, may face particular difficulties in labour market integration (e.g. due to language, culture, skills recognition, etc.). The recent increase in migrants coming to Europe has served to further highlight the need for innovative ways to ensure successful inclusion on the labour market and in society.
In order for the EU to achieve the Europe 2020 goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth it must strive to provide the necessary skills to the work force, and in particular to those at risk of exclusion, leading to more and better employment opportunities. Thus, education and training build the critical foundation for developing a thriving, cohesive and prosperous European society and economy.
Digital learning technologies and solutions have the potential to equip European citizens with the required skills and to enhance their employability, whilst contributing towards better employment opportunities and growth. Digital learning enables students in any location to study with the best teachers, access a plethora of information, collaborate with peers, and contribute to new thinking through networked learning and interactive research communities. They have the potential to prevent inequality of opportunities, maximise student’s learning potential and ultimately their ability to thrive. Digital learning helps diminishing the constraints of time, place, talent, and cost, and has the ability to personalize instruction by matching students 'needs, interests, learning styles, and educational goals.
The overall objective of this action is to develop and demonstrate a European-wide learning and assessment technology system and networks to facilitate the up- and re-skilling of European citizens at risk of exclusion, in particular migrants, whilst empowering citizens to take more responsibilities for their own learning. The solution should deliver employability skills for the particular target group, by matching the interests and the current knowledge of these with the most demanded labour market skills and suggest possible learning roadmaps.
The action will consist of the development and deployment of a technological platform integrating online services, which will incorporate the following modules and services:
These services should be accompanied by a thoughtful and comprehensive social innovation process to engage citizens at risk of exclusion in Europe, in particular migrants, in the proposed learning and skilling activities. Keeping in mind that 'migrants' is a vastly heterogeneous group with different needs, the proposal should also reflect on the particular barriers facing this group and that the proposal aims to address (e.g. languages). The services of the proposed solution will need to be tested and demonstrated through an integrated solution.
It is expected that the proposed solution will contribute to the implementation of the new Skills Agenda for Europe, and will deliver employability skills for citizens at risk of exclusion, in particular migrants.
Publication of the call
Deadline for submitting applications
14 November 2016
17 :00 CET
Information to applicants
Signature of grant agreement or notification of grant decision
Starting date of the action
The total budget earmarked for the co-financing of projects is estimated at EUR 1 500 000 (one million five hundred thousand Euro).
The Commission expects to fund one single proposal.
The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.
Failure to comply with those requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.
Only applications from legal entities established in the EU Member States are eligible.
Applications may be submitted:
In order to assess the applicants' eligibility, the following supporting documents are requested:
Examples of supporting documents:
Eligible legal entities having a legal or capital link with applicants, which is neither limited to the action nor established for the sole purpose of it implementation, may take part in the action as affiliated entities, and may declare eligible costs as specified in section 11.2.
Types of activities eligible under this call for proposals:
The duration of the action is expected to be no more than 24 months;
Applications for projects scheduled to run for a longer period than that specified in this call for proposals will not be accepted.
Exclusion from participation
Applicants will be excluded from participating in the call for proposals procedure if they are in any of the following situations:
Exclusion from award
Applicants will not be granted financial assistance if, in the course of the grant award procedure, they:
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.
Applicants must sign a declaration on their honour certifying that they are not in one of the situations referred to in articles 106(1) and 107 to 109, filling in the relevant form attached to the application form accompanying the call for proposals and available at https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/news-redirect/34447
Applicants must have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the period during which the action is being carried out or the year for which the grant is awarded 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:
In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above thresholds apply by applicants.
In the case of legal entities forming one applicant, as specified in section 6.1, the above requirements apply to those entities.
On the basis of the documents submitted, if the Commission considers that financial capacity is not satisfactory, it may:
Applicants must have the professional competencies as well as appropriate qualifications necessary to complete the proposed action or work programme. In this respect, applicants have to submit a declaration on their honour, and the following supporting documents:
In the case of legal entities forming one applicant, as specified in section 6.1, the above requirements apply to those entities.
Clarity and pertinence of the objectives, credibility of the proposed approach, soundness of the concept and innovation potential.
Maximum score/weighting 30
Expected impacts to deliver employability skills for citizens at risk of exclusion, in particular migrants, enhancing innovation capacity and integration of new knowledge including delivery of innovations to the market, other environmental and socially important impacts (not already covered above) and effectiveness of the proposed measures to exploit and disseminate the project results, including future sustainability of the platform.
Maximum score/weighting 50
Coherence and effectiveness of the work plan, including appropriateness of the allocation of tasks and resources, complementarity of the participants within the consortium (when relevant), and appropriateness of the management structures and procedures, including risk and innovation management.
Maximum score/weighting 20
Maximum score/weighting 100
Eligible applications/proposals will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:
Minimum score per criterion (threshold):
Proposals scoring less than 50% of the maximum score for any technical award criterion will be considered of insufficient quality and rejected.
Minimum total score (threshold):
Proposals with a total score of less than 60 points at the end of the evaluation process will be considered of insufficient quality and rejected.
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 beneficiary, as well as the procedure in view to formalise the obligations of the parties.
The 2 copies of the original agreement must be signed first by the beneficiary and returned to the Commission immediately. The Commission will sign it last.
Please note that the award of a grant does not establish an entitlement for subsequent years.
An action may only receive one grant from the EU budget.
In no circumstances shall the same costs be financed twice by the Union budget. To ensure this, applicants shall indicate the sources and amounts of Union funding received or applied for the same action or part of the action or for its functioning during the same financial year as well as any other funding received or applied for the same action.
No grant may be awarded retrospectively for actions already completed.
A grant may be awarded for an action which has already begun only where the applicant can demonstrate the need to start the action before the grant agreement is signed or the grant decision is notified.
In such cases, costs eligible for financing may not have been incurred prior to the date of submission of the grant application
Co-financing means that the resources which are necessary to carry out the action or the work programme may not be entirely provided by the EU grant.
Co-financing of the action or of the work programme may take the form of:
Co-financing may also take the form of 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 are not eligible.
The estimated budget of the action or work programme is to be attached to the application form. It must have revenue and expenditure in balance.
The budget must be drawn up in euros.
Applicants which foresee that costs will not be incurred in euros, are invited to use the exchange rate published on the Infor-euro website available at http://ec.europa.eu/budget/contracts_grants/info_contracts/inforeuro/index_en.cfm .
Where the implementation of the action or the work programme requires the award of procurement contracts (implementation contracts), the beneficiary must award the contract to the bid offering best value for money or the lowest price (as appropriate), avoiding conflicts of interests and retain the documentation for the event of an audit. Sub-contracts may only be awarded to entities which fulfil the eligibility criteria for applicants in section 6.1, e.g. sub-contractors must be legal entities established in one of the EU Member States.
Entities acting in their capacity of contracting authorities in the meaning of Directive 2004/18/EC or contracting entities in the meaning of Directive 2004/17/EC shall abide by the applicable national public procurement rules.
Sub-contracting, i.e. the externalisation of specific tasks or activities which form part of the action/work programme as described in the proposal must satisfy the conditions applicable to any implementation contract (as specified above) and in addition to them the following conditions:
Financial support to third parties
The applications may not envisage provision of financial support to third parties.
Mixed financing grants are calculated on the basis of a detailed estimated budget indicating clearly the costs that are eligible for EU funding. The grant amount may neither exceed the eligible costs nor the amount requested. Amounts are indicated in euros.
Maximum amount requested
The EU grant is limited to a maximum co-funding rate of 70 % of eligible costs taking into account the maximum grant amount referred to in section 4.
Consequently, part of the total eligible expenses entered in the estimative budget must be financed from sources other than the EU grant (see section 11.1).
Contributions in kind
The external co-financing may be made up of contributions in kind in order to cover other costs necessary to carry out the project. Such contributions must not exceed:
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.
Eligible costs are costs actually incurred by the beneficiary of a grant which meet all the following criteria:
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 the affiliated entities.
Eligible direct costs
The eligible direct costs for the action/ work programme 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 or the work programme and which can therefore be booked to it directly, such as :
- the costs of personnel working under an employment contract with the applicant or equivalent appointing act and assigned to the action, comprising actual salaries plus social security contributions and other statutory costs included in the remuneration, provided that these costs are in line with the applicant's usual policy on remuneration. Those costs may include additional remuneration, including payments on the basis of supplementary contracts regardless of their nature, provided that it is paid in a consistent manner whenever the same kind of work or expertise is required and independently from the source of funding used;
- subsistence allowances (for meetings, including kick-off meetings where applicable, conferences etc) provided that these costs are in line with the beneficiary's usual practices,
- costs of travel (for meetings, including kick-off meetings where applicable, conferences etc), provided that these costs are in line with the beneficiary's usual practices on travel,
- costs of consumables and supplies, provided that they are identifiable and assigned to the action/project;
- costs entailed by implementation contracts awarded by the beneficiaries for the purposes of carrying out the action/project, provided that the conditions laid down in the grant agreement or grant decision are met;
- costs arising directly from requirements linked to the implementation of the action/project (dissemination of information, specific evaluation of the action, translations, reproduction);
- costs relating to a pre-financing guarantee lodged by the beneficiary of the grant, where required;
- costs relating to external audits where required in support of the requests for payments; value added tax ("VAT") is not eligible.
Eligible indirect costs (overheads)
A flat-rate amount of 7% of the total eligible direct costs of the action, is eligible under 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 in the case of organisations receiving an operating grant, indirect costs are not eligible under specific actions.
Calculation of the final grant amount
The final amount of the grant to be awarded to the beneficiary is established after completion of the action or work programme, upon approval of the request for payment containing the following documents including relevant supporting documents where appropriate:
EU grants may not have the purpose or effect of producing a profit within the framework of the action or the work programme of the beneficiary. Profit shall be defined as a surplus of the receipts over the eligible costs incurred by the beneficiary, when the request is made for payment of the balance. In this respect, where a profit is made, the Commission shall be entitled to recover the percentage of the profit corresponding to the Union contribution to the eligible costs actually incurred by the beneficiary to carry out the action or work programme.
A pre-financing payment corresponding to 50% of the grant amount will be transferred to the beneficiary within 30 days either of the date when the last of the two parties signs the agreement, or of the notification of the grant decision, provided all requested guarantees have been received.
One interim payment shall be paid to the beneficiary. The interim payment is intended to cover the beneficiary's expenditure on the basis of a request for payment when the action has been partly carried out. For the purpose of determining the amount due as interim payment, the reimbursement rate to be applied to the eligible costs approved by the Commission shall be 70%.
The total amount of pre-financing and interim payments shall not exceed 90% of the maximum grant amount.
The Commission will establish the amount of the final payment to be made to the beneficiary on the basis of the calculation of the final grant amount (see section 11.2 above). If the total of earlier payments is higher than the final grant amount, the beneficiary will be required to reimburse the amount paid in excess by the Commission through a recovery order.
In the event that the applicant's financial capacity is not satisfactory, a pre-financing guarantee for up to the same amount as the pre-financing may be requested in order to limit the financial risks linked to the pre-financing payment.
The financial guarantee, in euro, shall be provided by an approved bank or financial institution established in one of the Member State of the European Union. Amounts blocked in bank accounts shall not be accepted as financial guarantees.
The guarantee may be replaced by a joint and several guarantee by a third party or by a joint guarantee of the beneficiaries of an action who are parties to the same grant agreement
The guarantee shall be released as the pre-financing is gradually cleared against interim payments or payments of balances to the beneficiary, in accordance with the conditions laid down in the grant agreement.
By the beneficiaries
Beneficiaries must clearly acknowledge the European Union's contribution in all publications or in conjunction with activities for which the grant is used.
In this respect, beneficiaries are required to give prominence to the name and emblem of the European Commission on all their publications, posters, programmes and other products realised under the co-financed project.
By the Commission
With the exception of scholarships paid to natural persons and other direct support paid to natural persons in most need, all information relating to grants awarded in the course of a financial year shall be published on an internet site of the European Union institutions no later than the 30 June of the year following the financial year in which the grants were awarded.
The Commission will publish the following information:
Upon a reasoned and duly substantiated request by the beneficiary, the publication shall be waived if such disclosure risks threatening the rights and freedoms of individuals concerned as protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union or harm the commercial interests of the beneficiaries.
The reply to any call for proposals involves the recording and processing of personal data (such as name, address and CV). Such data will be processed pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data. Unless indicated otherwise, the questions and any personal data requested are required to evaluate the application in accordance with the specifications of the call for proposal will be processed solely for that purpose by the Learning, Multilingualism and Accessibility unit of the Communications Networks, Content and Technology DG. Details concerning the processing of personal data are available on the privacy statement at: http://ec.europa.eu/dataprotectionofficer/privacystatement_publicprocurement_en.pdf
Personal data may be registered in the Early Warning System (EWS) only or both in the EWS and Central Exclusion Database (CED) by the Accounting Officer of the Commission, should the beneficiary be in one of the situations mentioned in:
the Commission Decision 2008/969 of 16.12.2008 on the Early Warning System (for more information see the Privacy Statement on: http://ec.europa.eu/budget/library/explained/management/protecting/privacy_statement_edes_en.pdf ,
the Commission Regulation 2008/1302 of 17.12.2008 on the Central Exclusion Database (for more information see the Privacy Statement on http://ec.europa.eu/budget/library/explained/management/protecting/privacy_statement_edes_en.pdf
Procedure for the submission of proposals
Proposals must be submitted in accordance with the formal requirements and by the deadline set out under section 5.
No modification to the application is allowed once the deadline for submission has elapsed. However, if there is a need to clarify certain aspects or for the correction of clerical mistakes, the Commission may contact the applicant for this purpose during the evaluation process.
Applicants will be informed in writing about the results of the selection process.
Submission on paper
Application forms are available at https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/news-redirect/34447
Applications shall be submitted on the correct form, duly completed, dated, showing a balanced budget (revenue/expenditure), submitted in 5 copies (one original clearly identified as such, plus 4 copies), and signed by the person authorised to enter into legally binding commitments on behalf of the applicant organisation. Please also include in the envelope the proposal in digital form on a usb key.
Where applicable, all additional information considered necessary by the applicant can be included on separate sheets.
Applications must be sent to the following address:
Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology Directorate Data – Learning, Multilingualism and Accessibility (unit G.3)
For the attention of the Head of Unit (EUFO 2/274)
by post, date as postmark;
in person, date as receipt,
by courier service, date of receipt by the courier service.
Applications sent by fax or e-mail will not be accepted.
For any questions please contact:
Grant application budget
Checklist of documents to be provided
Model grant agreement
Model Financial Statement