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Technical Assistance projects - Environment and Climate Action
Deadline: 07 Sep 2017   CALL EXPIRED

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1. Introduction to LIFE

1.1 What is LIFE?

LIFE is the European Programme for the Environment and Climate Action, for the period from 1 January 2014 until 31 December 2020. The legal basis for LIFE is Regulation 1293/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 20131.

The LIFE Programme is structured in two sub-programmes: the sub-programme for Environment and the sub-programme for Climate Action. The overall financial envelope for the implementation of the LIFE Programme is EUR 3 456 655 000, of which 75 % is allocated to the sub-programme Environment (EUR 2 592 491 250) and 25 % to the Climate Action sub-programme.

1.2 What is LIFE Technical Assistance?

Technical Assistance (TA) projects provide, by way of action grants, financial support to help applicants prepare Integrated Projects (IPs). A maximum of 1 % of the yearly budget allocated to Integrated Projects may be made available to Technical Assistance projects. The maximum EU contribution per Technical Assistance project is fixed at 100,000 €. The amount available for co-financing Technical Assistance projects in 2017 will be 886,500 € under the sub-programme Environment and 300,000 € under the sub-programme for Climate Action.

According to Article 2 of the LIFE Regulation, Technical Assistance projects are supposed to ensure that the Integrated Projects (IP) which they prepare comply with the timing, technical and financial requirements of the LIFE Programme in coordination with funds referred to in Article 8(3).

1.3 Scope of Technical Assistance projects to be co-financed under LIFE

Technical Assistance projects have to aim at the preparation of a future IP proposal and the applicant must not be a Member State entity which receives financing for a Capacity Building project which covers at least a part of the period to be covered by the Technical Assistance project. This basically means that a coordinating beneficiary who already has an ongoing Capacity Building project is not eligible for a Technical Assistance project and vice versa.

Integrated Projects – as defined by the LIFE Regulation – are projects implementing on a large territorial scale, in particular, regional, multi-regional, national or trans-national scale, certain specific environmental or climate action plans, strategies or roadmaps required by specific Union environmental or climate legislation, developed pursuant to other Union acts or developed by Member States' authorities, primarily in the areas of nature, including, inter alia, Natura 2000 network management, water, waste, air and climate change mitigation and adaptation, while ensuring involvement of stakeholders and promoting the coordination with and mobilisation of at least one other relevant Union, national or private funding source.

 

Applicants are strongly advised to refer to the documents "LIFE2017 Integrated Projects: Guidelines for applicants of the sub-programme Environment” and “LIFE 2017 Integrated Projects: Guidelines for applicants of the sub-programme Climate Action" that describe in full detail the topics and scope of Integrated Projects.

1.4 How, where and when to submit a proposal?

Applicants for Technical Assistance projects must submit their proposals using the forms included in this application guide and attaching all relevant documents (mandatory administrative and financial annexes according to section 1.6 below, and any other supporting documents).

Applications have to be submitted to the following addresses no later than16:00 Brussels local time on 07 September 2017:

For Technical Assistance Projects submitted under the Environment sub-programme:

LIFE 2017 – Technical Assistance Projects (Environment sub-programme) European Commission
DG ENV.D.4 (BU9 03/009)
B-1049 Brussels

Belgium

Delivery by hand is possible at the following address only:

LIFE 2017 – Technical Assistance Projects (Environment sub-programme) European Commission
DG ENV.D.4 (BU9 03/009)
Avenue du Bourget 1

B-1140 Brussels (Evere) Belgium

For Technical Assistance Projects submitted under the Climate Action sub-programme:

LIFE 2017 –Technical Assistance Projects (Climate Action sub-programme) European Commission
EASME Unit B3
B-1049 Brussels

Belgium

Delivery by hand is possible at the following address only:

LIFE 2017 – Technical Assistance Projects (Climate Action sub-programme) European Commission

EASME Unit B3
Avenue du Bourget 1 B-1140 Brussels (Evere)

Belgium

The proposal and all its obligatory annexes must be submitted on CD-ROM or DVD, in an electronic format, accompanied by a signed cover letter. The full title of the proposal should be clearly labelled on the CD-ROM/DVD and on the letter.

The proposal itself must be submitted as one "black and white only" pdf document, including all technical forms (i.e. A, B and C forms) and all financial forms (F forms). These forms should be scanned and submitted as a single pdf file of the original, printed, completed and signed (where applicable) A4 size paper forms. Applicants should ensure that the corresponding pdf file is of a readable quality (at a maximum resolution of 300 dpi – applicants must avoid sending files scanned at a higher resolution in order to keep file sizes manageable).

The proposal must be printable on a black-and-white printer, and in an A4 format. Where proposal forms are signed, beneficiaries are strongly advised to check whether the signatures are still identifiable on a printout of the form.

Note that applicants should retain the original, signed Word and Excel files containing all of these forms, for possible use in the preparation of the final grant agreements.

Additional documents/annexes, other than those required, submitted by applicants (e.g. brochures, CVs, additional information etc) will not be evaluated and therefore applicants must not include any such material in the CD-ROM/DVD.

Very important: Please note that the e-mail address specified by the applicant as the contact person's e-mail address in form A2 will be used by the Contracting Authority as the single contact point for all correspondence with the applicant during the evaluation procedure. It should therefore correspond to an e-mail account which is valid, active and checked on a daily basis throughout the duration of the evaluation procedure.

When preparing the proposal, the applicants may wish to consult the relevant LIFE National Contact Point; the complete list of the names and contact addresses of the national authorities for LIFE in the Member States can be found on the LIFE website at

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/contact/nationalcontact/index.htm

1.5. How to conceive a LIFE Technical Assistance project proposal?

Since the purpose of a Technical Assistance project is to prepare an Integrated Project application, applicants should start by reading the Application guidelines for Integrated Projects under both sub-programmes2. They should ensure that the target action plan, strategy or roadmap will be eligible for an Integrated Project. Please note that, inter alia, the action plan strategy or roadmap should be likely to be adopted by the end of the Technical Assistance project.

Be aware that the objective of a Technical Assistance project is the submission of a proposal for an Integrated Project. The coordinating beneficiary should submit a full IP proposal before the end of the project.3 This proposal has to be of good quality and has to be eligible. If failure to submit is due to the fault of a TA beneficiary the Contracting Authority reserves the right to recover any pre-financing and to declare all project costs ineligible.

When preparing your proposal, the following main types of eligible actions must be clearly distinguished:

  1. Implementation actions (obligatory),

  2. Project management and monitoring actions (obligatory).

 

Implementation actions (obligatory)

The overall objective of a Technical Assistance project is writing an IP proposal, so all implementation actions must contribute to this goal.

As a general principle, all actions included in the Technical Assistance project must be new and additional to the work undertaken by the applicant prior to the projects.

In general, and amongst others, actions:

  •   should not be research actions;

  •   should not include statutory responsibilities of the competent authority;

  •   should be completed within the duration of the project;

  •   should be clearly related to the objective(s) of the project and the corresponding IP.

    Actions may include (this is not an exhaustive list):

  •   recruitment of new personnel and training for writing a LIFE IP proposal;

  •   contracting external assistance for writing a LIFE IP proposal;

  •   information collection for the preparation of a LIFE IP proposal (e.g. on sources of funding)

  •   networking, consultation and coordination work for preparing, writing and implementing the IP;

  •   coordination with stakeholders to be involved in the Integrated Project;

  •   developing financing plans where such plans are not already part of the target action

    plan, strategy or roadmap;

  •   writing of the IP proposal itself.

    Project management and monitoring of the project progress (obligatory)

    Every project proposal must contain an appropriate amount of both project management and monitoring actions. This typically involves at least all of the following actions and associated costs:

  •   Project management, activities undertaken by the beneficiaries for the management of the project (administrative, technical and financial aspects) and for meeting the LIFE reporting obligations. The project management structure must be clearly presented (including an organigram and details of the responsibilities of each person and organisation involved).

  •   Training, workshops and meetings for the beneficiaries' staff, where these are required for a successful management of the Technical Assistance project.

If a coordinator or project manager also directly contributes to the implementation of certain actions, an appropriate part of his/her salary costs should be attributed to the estimated costs of those actions.

1.6 Administrative and financial information to be provided

The LIFE Regulation states that beneficiaries of LIFE projects may include: (1) public bodies4, (2) private commercial organisations5 and (3) private non-commercial organisations (including NGOs)6.

 

The term "public bodies" is defined as referring to national public authorities, regardless of their form of organisation – central, regional or local structure – and the various bodies under their control, provided these operate on behalf of and under the responsibility of the national public authority concerned. In the case of entities registered as private law bodies wishing to be considered for the purpose of this call as equivalent to "public law bodies", they should provide evidence proving that they comply with all criteria applying to bodies governed by public law and in the event the organisation stops its activities, its rights and obligations, liability and debts will be transferred to a public body. For a complete definition, please refer to form A3b ("Public body declaration").

All applicants and associated beneficiaries must show their legal status (by completing application forms A2 or A5), and provide full information on the Member State (or third country) in which they are registered. In addition all beneficiaries must declare that they are not in any of the situations foreseen under art.106(1) and 107 of the Financial Regulation n° 966/2012 of 25 October 2012 (JO L 298 of 26/10/2012) (by signing the application form A3 or A4 – instructions for this are given in section 3 of these Guidelines).

1.7 How will LIFE Technical Assistance projects be selected?

The selection of Technical Assistance projects will follow the same technical methodology for project selection under both sub-programmes. A fast track approach will be applied.

The project selection procedure will be organised as follows:

  •   Evaluation of proposals

    The Commission will verify the compliance of each proposal with the eligibility and selection criteria and will evaluate them against the award criteria.

  •   Preparation of the final list of projects to be funded and of the reserve list

    After a review phase, successful projects will be proposed for funding, within the available budget. A reserve list will be constituted with the best-ranked projects that cannot be funded in view of the available budget. The reserve list will encompass an additional 20 % of the available LIFE budget.

  •   Signature of the grant agreement

    Exclusively proposals for which the relevant LIFE application forms were used and which have been submitted in pdf format by the set deadline will be retained for further admissibility check and evaluation.

 

1.7.1 Admissibility

To be admitted to the evaluation of the technical and financial coherence and quality all the declaration forms have to be completed and signed, the project description has to be provided in English and all the relevant forms and fields have to be completed. The coordinating beneficiary has to be registered in the EU; mandatory financial annexes and "Public body declaration" have to be provided if required.

The applicant has to confirm in form A3 that they will not get any financing for a Capacity Building project which covers at least a part of the period to be covered by the Technical Assistance project. For all the beneficiaries a declaration of compliance concerning the exclusion criteria has to be provided.

 

A proposal can be rejected on the basis of technical reliability if:

  •   there is evidence that the beneficiaries do not have the technical competency to carry out the project;

  •   there is evidence that the coordinating beneficiary has been an unreliable manager in previous LIFE or other European Union financed projects and has given no proof that necessary initiatives have been taken to avoid similar problems in the future.

    The Commission will use all the information at its disposal to assess whether the applicant and the associated beneficiaries fulfil the selection criteria and do not meet the exclusion criteria. On the basis of Article 202, a proposal will be rejected on the basis of financial reliability if the evaluator has evidence showing that it falls into any of the following situations:

  •   if there is information available to indicate that the coordinating beneficiary and/or one of its associated beneficiaries, contrary to the declaration for exclusion, are in one of the situations referred to in art. 106(1) and 107 of the Financial Regulation n° 966/2012 of 25 October 2012 (JO L 298 of 26/10/2012);

  •   the results of audits carried out by European Union Institutions in relation to the coordinating beneficiary and/ or one of its associated beneficiaries have clearly shown their inability to comply with the administrative rules regulating European Union grants and in particular those applicable to LIFE.

1.7.2 Eligibility and selection criteria

A proposal for a Technical Assistance project is retained for evaluation against the award criteria if:

  •   the project proposal aims at the preparation of a future IP proposal that targets an eligible action plan, strategy or roadmap;

  •   the applicant is not a Member State entity which receives financing for a Capacity Building project which covers at least a part of the period to be covered by the Technical Assistance project.

The proposals must also demonstrate that the projects are of Union interest by making a contribution to the achievement of one of the general objectives of the LIFE Programme set out in Article 3.

1.7.3 Award criteria

The merit of all eligible proposals will be evaluated and scored according to the following award criteria and scoring system:



 

Technical coherence and quality

30 (Minimum pass score*)

60 (Maximum score)

Financial coherence and quality

20 (Minimum pass score*)

40 (Maximum score)

Overall (pass) scores

55 (Minimum pass score*)

100 (Maximum score)

 

 

*A project proposal has to reach at least the minimum pass score for each award criterion and also the sum of scores for criteria for which a minimum score has been fixed has to be equivalent to 55 points or more.

 Technical coherence and quality

  •   The clarity, coherence and feasibility of the proposal (Is pre-operational context well described? Is the future IP sufficiently taken into account? Is there a logical link between present context and the expected results? Are the management structures well organized and the potential difficulties taken into account? Is the time planning realistic? etc.),

  •   the level of involvement and commitment of the relevant authorities and stakeholders, and

  •   the added value of the Technical Assistance project considering other work already undertaken to prepare an Integrated Project, including previous EU financing for PAF projects for Integrated Projects under the sub-programme Environment and Climate Action

will be evaluated in view of the project objectives and its expected results.

 Financial coherence and quality

The proposed budget and its consistency with the actions proposed and with the applicable rules as well as the cost-effectiveness of the proposed approach will be evaluated. The value for money of the proposal will also be assessed. The given budget has to be sufficiently detailed to evaluate if the costs in the different categories are reasonable, justified and correctly allocated.

All proposals retained after the evaluation against the award criteria will be ranked on merit. In order to keep geographical balance, in the initial step, at most one TA proposal per Member State under the sub-programme Environment and one TA proposal per Member State under the sub-programme Climate Action will be awarded a grant. If budget remains after this step, then the remaining proposals on the list will be considered for funding on the basis of merit alone.

The results of the evaluation of proposals for Technical Assistance projects under this call will be taken into account in determining remaining national allocations for subsequent evaluations of other types of action grants under the sub-programme Environment of the LIFE programme7. In order to do so, for each proposal, the Member States to which the EU financial contribution will be allocated must be clearly identifiable in the proposal. This EU financial contribution is either allocated to the Member State in which the coordinating beneficiary is registered, or, in case of a trans-national proposal, to more than one Member State. In the latter case, the proportion of the EU financial contribution that needs to be allocated to a particular Member State is equivalent to the amount of the EU contribution requested by the partner(s) in that Member State.

The results of the evaluation of these proposals will also be taken into account when determining the 55 % minimum threshold for "nature and biodiversity" projects under the sub- programme Environment as a whole.

7 There are no national allocations under the sub-programme Climate Action 9

1.8 General recommendations
1.8.1. In which language may the proposal be submitted?

LIFE proposals may be submitted in any official EU language; the Contracting Authority nevertheless strongly recommends applicants to fill in the technical part of the proposal in clear English.

Form B1 ("Description of the project") must always be submitted in English. It may in addition also be submitted in the language of the proposal.

1.8.2. Who may submit a proposal for a Technical Assistance Project?

It is expected that the applicant of a Technical Assistance project is the intended applicant of the future Integrated Project.

1.8.3. Who may participate in a Technical Assistance project?

Once a proposal has been accepted for co-funding, the applicant will become the coordinating beneficiary legally and financially responsible for the implementation of the project. The coordinating beneficiary will be the single point of contact for the Contracting Authority and will be the only beneficiary to report directly to the Contracting Authority on the project's technical and financial progress.

The coordinating beneficiary receives the EU financial contribution from the Contracting Authority and ensures its distribution as specified in the partnership agreements established with the associated beneficiaries (if there are any – see below). The coordinating beneficiary must be directly involved in the technical implementation of the project.

The coordinating beneficiary must bear part of the project costs and must thus contribute financially to the project budget. It cannot therefore be reimbursed for 100 % of the project costs that it incurs (see also section 1.8.4). Furthermore it cannot act, in the context of the project, as a sub-contractor to one of its associated beneficiaries.

In addition to the coordinating beneficiary, a LIFE proposal may also involve one or more associated beneficiaries and/or one or more project co-financers.

An associated beneficiary must always contribute technically to the proposal and hence be responsible for the implementation of one or several project actions. An associated beneficiary must also contribute financially to the project. It cannot act, in the context of the project, as a sub-contractor to the coordinating beneficiary or to other associated beneficiaries. Furthermore it must provide the beneficiary with all the necessary documents required for the fulfilment of its reporting obligations to the Contracting Authority.

An Integrated Project is supposed to be an inclusive project, which means that all key stakeholders should be involved. This should be already taken into account, if reasonable, for the Technical Assistance project. However, stakeholders for the Integrated Project in question may be involved via meetings or consultations; they do not necessarily have to be associated beneficiaries.

Public undertakings whose capital is publicly owned and that are considered an instrument or a technical service of a public administration, and are subject to the administration control, but are in effect separate legal entities, must become beneficiaries if a public administration intends to entrust the implementation of certain project actions to the undertaking8. For

8 This is the case for example in Spain for "empresas públicas" such as TRAGSA, or EGMASA and in Greece for regional development agencies.

 

specific tasks of a fixed duration, a proposal may also foresee the use of subcontractors. Subcontractors cannot act as beneficiaries or vice-versa. Subcontractors provide external services to the project beneficiaries who fully pay for the services provided. Sub-contractors should not be identified by name in the proposal unless they are considered an affiliated entity to a project beneficiary.

For a more detailed description of the respective rules related to the coordinating beneficiary, associated beneficiaries, co-financers and subcontractors, please refer to the General Conditions of the LIFE Model Grant Agreement.

1.8.4. What is the maximum rate of EU co-financing under LIFE Technical Assistance?

The maximum EU co-financing rate for LIFE Technical Assistance projects is 60 % of the eligible project costs.

1.8.5. How much should project beneficiaries contribute to the project budget?

The coordinating beneficiary and (where applicable) any associated beneficiaries are expected to provide a financial contribution to the project budget. A proposal cannot be submitted if the financial contribution of any of the beneficiaries to the proposal budget is EUR 0.

1.8.6. What is the optimal starting date and duration for a Technical Assistance project?

The earliest possible starting date for projects is 1 December 2017.
Any costs incurred before the project's starting date will not be considered eligible and

cannot be included in the project budget.

Generally speaking, the duration of a Technical Assistance project should not exceed two years. It is expected that a Technical Assistance project aims to prepare a proposal for an Integrated Project for the submission deadline which is following the start date of the Technical Assistance projector the submission deadline one year later. Therefore, the reasonable end date of a Technical Assistance project is the next (or the one after the next) submission deadline for the full proposal (stage II) for Integrated Projects. Since the exact submission date for Integrated Projects proposals is not known yet at the time of submission of a TA project proposal, it is suggested to add two months as a safety margin to the expected submission date. Hence, it is recommended to choose either June 2018 or May 2019 as project end date for your Technical Assistance proposal, depending on which Integrated Project call you are aiming for.

Beneficiaries should note that a project that has completed all of its actions prior to the expected end date can submit its final report ahead of schedule if it includes a commitment to submit a proposal for an Integrated Project by the following deadline. However, the final payment request will only be accepted after submission of the IP proposal.

1.8.7. Where can a LIFE Technical Assistance project take place?

The geographic location of actions should normally correspond to that of the future IP.

Technical Assistance projects shall generally take place in the territory of the European Union Member States. The LIFE Programme may also finance activities outside the EU and in overseas countries and territories (OCTs), provided that the coordinating beneficiary is

 

based in the EU and strong evidence is provided that the activities to be carried out outside the EU are necessary to achieve EU environmental or climate objectives and to ensure the effectiveness of interventions carried out in the Member State territories to which the Treaties apply.

The eligibility criteria formulated in European Commission notice Nr.2013/C-205/05 (OJEU C-205 of 19/07/2013, pp. 9–11), concerning the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014 onwards, shall apply for all actions under this call for proposals, including with respect to third parties referred to in article 137 of the EU's Financial Regulation.

1.8.8. Which project beneficiary should be in charge of the project management?

While there is no obligation for the beneficiaries to include in the proposal budget any costs related to the project management, the proposal should nevertheless clearly describe who will be in charge of the project management, how much personnel and time will be devoted to this task and how and by whom decisions on the project will be made during the project period (i.e. how and by whom the project management will be controlled).

It is important to note that if an agency associated with the beneficiary carries out the technical and/or financial administration of the project, this body MUST be an associated beneficiary of the project in order for its costs to be eligible for co-financing.

1.8.9. To which extent are salary costs of public staff eligible for LIFE co-funding?

Please refer Part 2 – Completing the Application', 'Form F1 – Direct personnel costs'. 1.8.10. Outsourcing of project activities

The beneficiaries should have the technical and financial capacity and competency to carry out the proposed project activities. It is therefore expected that the share of the project budget allocated to external assistance should remain below 35 %. Higher shares may only be accepted if an adequate justification for this is provided in the project proposal.

If a beneficiary is a public body, any outsourcing (including any outsourcing of the project management) must be awarded in accordance with the applicable rules on public tendering and in conformity with EU Directives on public tendering procedures. Furthermore, articles II.9 and II.10 of the General Conditions of the LIFE Model Grant Agreement must be respected.

Green procurement: all beneficiaries (public and private) are strongly invited to carefully consider the possibility to "green" their procurement activities. The Contracting Authority has established a toolkit for this purpose. More information can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/gpp/toolkit_en.htm

1.8.11. Under which conditions does LIFE favour transnational Technical Assistance projects?

The LIFE Regulation indicates that, while selecting the projects to be co-funded, the Contracting Authority shall have special regard to transnational projects, when transnational cooperation is essential to guarantee environmental or climate objectives. In the case of Technical Assistance projects, very clear and sufficient arguments must be provided for an added value of the transnational approach, with reference to the target plan or strategy for the Integrated Project.

 

1.8.12. How voluminous should a LIFE Technical Assistance proposal be?

A proposal should be as concise and clear as possible. Clear and detailed descriptions should, however, be provided for all project actions.

Brochures, CVs and similar documents should not be submitted and will be ignored if provided.

1.8.13. Complementarity with other EU funding instruments must be ensured

According to Article 8 of the LIFE Regulation, support from the LIFE Programme should be "complementary to other financial instruments of the Union" and overlap between the LIFE Programme and other Union policies and financial instruments should be avoided. These include, amongst others, the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Horizon 2020 Programme.

The beneficiaries must inform the Contracting Authority about any related funding they have received from the EU budget, as well as any related ongoing applications for funding from the EU budget.

1.8.14. Efforts for reducing the project's "carbon footprint"

You should aim to keep the "carbon footprint" of your project as low as reasonably possible. Details of efforts to be made to reduce CO2 emissions during a project's life shall be included in the description of the project. However, you should be aware that project expenses for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions will not be considered as eligible costs.

1.9 Personal Data Protection Clause

The personal data supplied with your proposal, notably the name, address and other contact information of the beneficiaries, will be placed in a database named ESAP that will be made available to the EU Institutions and agencies, as well as to a team of external evaluators who are bound by a confidentiality agreement. ESAP is used exclusively to manage the evaluation of LIFE proposals.

The same personal data of successful projects will be transferred to another database, Butler, which will be made available to the EU Institutions and agencies and to an external monitoring team who are bound by a confidentiality agreement. Butler is used exclusively to manage LIFE projects.

A summary of each project, including the name and contact information of the coordinating beneficiary, will be placed on the LIFE website and made available to the general public. At a certain point the coordinating beneficiary will be invited to check the accuracy of this summary.

The Contracting Authority, or its contractors, may also use the personal data of unsuccessful applicants for follow up actions in connection with future applications.

Throughout this process, Regulation (EC) n° 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 "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" will be respected by the Contracting Authority and its sub-contractors. You will notably have the right to access data concerning you in our possession and to request corrections.

Submission of a proposal implies that you accept that the personal data contained in your proposal is made available as described above. It will not be used in any other way or for any other purposes than those described above.

 



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