Questions and answers

As per PRAG, in the interest of equal treatment of Applicants, the Joint Managing Authority cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an Applicant, a partner, a project or specific activities.

Questions that may be relevant to other Applicants, together with the answers, are published in this section. It is therefore highly recommended to regularly consult it.

Inquiries may be sent in English or French to the following email: enpi.strategic@regione.sardegna.it. Answers will be given within 10 days.

Questions may be sent no later than 15 calendar days before the deadline for the submission of the proposals. Replies will be given no later than 7 calendar days before the deadline.

The Joint Managing Authority cannot in any case organise individual consultations with Applicants following the principle of equal treatment. Any public event will be announced on the Programme website.

As explained in the instructions for filling in the Budget, per diem covers accommodation, meals and local travels within the place of the mission and sundry expenses. The calculation of the number of per diems is based on the number of actual overnights. For example if 3 days are foreseen but only 2 overnights, only 2 per diem should be indicated.

Administrative costs and contingency reserve are not part of the list of costs that can be chosen when filling in worksheet 4: this means that only direct costs can be considered to fulfill the “50%” rule. Indirect costs and contingency reserve will be counted only if directly managed by Applicants and partners coming from Mediterranean Partner Countries (therefore counted in worksheet 3 as part of the budget allocated to MPCs).

According to article 14.2 of Annex II “General Conditions” to the Grant Contract, among the other eligible costs there are: “taxes, including VAT, where the Regulation and/or Financing Agreement with the third country under which the Contract is financed do not exclude coverage of taxes and the Beneficiary (or, where applicable, its partners) can show it cannot reclaim. Notwithstanding, the Beneficiary (or its partners) will not have to show it cannot reclaim taxes in any of the cases set out in Article 14.7”.
In particular VAT and Taxes are never eligible for Applicants and partners coming from Mediterranean Partner Countries, since the Financing Agreement signed by the EC with each MPC state that these costs are not eligible regardless the fact that an organization can reclaim them or not. Therefore Applicants or Partners from MPC should indicate, in the budget, costs not including the VAT or other taxes (the possibility to obtain invoices without VAT has to be check by each MPC organization with the competent authority in its own country).
For Applicants or partners from the EU, VAT is eligible only if the organization cannot reclaim it (see also art. 14.7 of Annex II “General Conditions” to the Grant Contract:
“The Beneficiary (or, where applicable, its partners) will not have to show it cannot reclaim taxes in any of the following cases:
– where the amount of taxes per invoice is less than EUR 200, within a maximum
of EUR 2 500, representing not more than 5% of the Contracting Authority's
contribution;
– where the Beneficiary can demonstrate that the steps necessary for recovery of
taxes oblige it to incur costs in a country where it only performs the relevant
operations on an ad hoc and isolated basis; and that these costs for recovery (e.g.,
registration fees in the country or the costs for appointing a tax representative,
declaration fees, etc.) clearly exceed the amount of the taxes declared to the
Contracting Authority;
– where a country has been declared in crisis situation or in the need for emergency
and post-emergency assistance by the European Commission. This exception is
limited to the period in which the declaration is in force. The Beneficiary shall
be informed in writing thereof;
– Where the Action relates to the protection of fundamental rights of peoples, as provided for in the Special Conditions.
The Beneficiary shall certify that the concerned taxes have not been or will not be recovered from the local tax authorities and prove that the above requirements are met at the latest when submitting the final report”.

Yes it is possible to launch a single tender to purchase equipment or supplies and then have separate invoices for each organisation that will pay its own quota. However please note that:
- each organization must agree to have a common procedure on a clear legal basis (e.g. Partnership Agreement)
- the organisation has to make sure that it has the possibility to pay an invoice issued by the provider contracted by a different organisation (Applicant or partner that launched the tender according to the applicable procurement rules).
- the use of the common tender has to be mentioned in the Full Application Form in the description of the equipment or supplies to be purchased to implement project activities.
The costs will have to be indicated in worksheet 1 of the Budget according to the quota that each organization will manage.
Please note that art. 7.3 of Annex II “General Conditions” as amended by art. 7.2.9 of the Grant Contract Special Conditions:
“Beneficiaries and partners located in EU Member States may implement activities in Mediterranean Partner Countries involving equipment, vehicles and supplies. Unless otherwise specified in the Special Conditions, the equipment, vehicles and supplies paid for by the Budget for the Action must be transferred to partners in the countries where the activities were carried out or to the final recipients of the Action, at the latest when submitting the final report. Copies of the proofs of transfers of equipments and vehicles, the purchase cost of which was more than EUR 5.000 per item, must be attached to the final report. Such proofs must be kept for control purposes in all other cases”

Staff or expert costs can be included only in case an organisation hires dedicated personnel to work in a MPC. In the contract between the EU organisation (Applicant/partner) with the expert, the place where the hired person will carry out the project activities should be clearly indicated in the contract.
Please note that temporary missions of staff/experts to attend project meetings or seminars shall not be considered as eligible costs for activities to be implemented in MPC (this in line with the non eligibility of the travel costs).

Given the limited amount of national funds, the JMA will be able to confirm the resources available and percentage of national co-financing only during the negotiation phase of the Grant Contracts.
Therefore Italian Applicants and partners should choose in worksheet 3 of the Budget (“Sources of funding”), the source “Contribution from other EU Institutions or Member States” indicating in the row “name and conditions” that the amount will be confirmed upon availability of funds. Please note that in case of non availability of the maximum national co-financing rate (10% of the total eligible costs managed by Italian Applicants/partners), the remaining co-financing will have to be covered using the other possible sources of funding (staff costs and own resources).

According to article 14.4 of Annex II “General Conditions” to the Standard Grant Contract, administrative costs are calculated at project level. However these are linked to the direct eligible costs incurred by all the partners.
Therefore these costs will have to be distributed according to the percentage (not exceeding 7%) indicated in worksheet 1 - row 11 - of the Budget among the Applicant and its partners based on the direct costs managed by each organisation (the detail per partner will have to be indicated in worksheet 3 of the Budget).
Please note that according to the same article,“The flat-rate funding in respect of indirect costs does not need to be supported by accounting documents. Indirect costs are eligible provided that they do not include costs assigned to another heading of the budget of this Contract.”

Yes, it is possible as indicated in article 9.2 of the General Conditions (Annex II to the Grant Contract), modified by article 7.4.3 of the Special Conditions. Any budget transfer between main budget headings or partners involves a variation of more than 15% of the amount originally entered has to be must be set out in writing in an addendum that must be approved by the Joint Monitoring Committee.
If the “amendment to the Budget or to the Description of the Action does not affect the basic purpose of the Action and the financial impact is limited to a transfer between main budget headings involving a variation of 15% or less of the amount originally entered (or as modified by addendum), or a transfer between partners budget involving a variation of 15% or less of the amount originally entered (or as modified by addendum), the Beneficiary may amend the Budget and inform the Contracting Authority accordingly in writing within 30 calendar days. This method may not be used to amend the headings for administrative costs or the contingency reserve ”.

Subcontracting is the possibility to externalise some services through a public procurement procedure based on the provisions set by Annex IV of the Grant Contract (for example to externalise the design of the website to a company or the external audit service for verification of expenditures). These costs must be indicated under budget line n. 6 of Annex III (Budget for the Project)in worksheet 1.
Sub-granting refers to the possibility to re-grant a portion of the project budget through a public procedure indicating the selection criteria that will be used to award the sub-grant. The maximum amount that can be awarded is 100.000 euro, taking into consideration that no sub-grantee can receive more than 10.000 euro. An example of sub-granting can be the need to implement pilot initiatives with local actors (e.g. students, farmers, SMEs, etc.).
Both the Applicant or partners may award the sub-grant provided that the overall amount cannot exceed 100.000 euro and according to the selection criteria described in the Full Application Form.

According to article 7.3.1 of the Grant Contract (Special Conditions) modifying art. 2.1 of Annex II “General Conditions”, the rule of nationality implies that experts to be directly contracted by the Applicant or partners must fulfil the provisions set by this article (reported below).
7.3.1 Article 2.1 shall be replaced as follows:
“[...] Pursuant to Article 21.1 of the Regulation (EC) No 1638/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 laying down general provisions establishing a European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument, participation in the award of procurement or grant contracts financed under this Regulation shall be open to all natural persons who are nationals of, and legal persons established in, a Member State of the Community, a country that is a beneficiary of this Regulation, a country that is a beneficiary of an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance set up by Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 of 17 July 2006 establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), a Member State of the EEA or international organisations.
Tenderers must state, in the tender, the country of which they are nationals by presenting the usual proof of nationality under their national legislation.......”

The only exception is foreseen in the same article 7.3.1: “This rule does not apply to the experts proposed by service providers taking part in tender procedures or service contracts financed by the grant”.

This means that if the project foresees to subcontract a portion of the activities to service provider (for example to implement the monitoring system), the company must respect the rule of nationality foreseen by article 7.3.2 of the Grant Contract replacing article 2.2 of Annex II “General Conditions” (see question and answer n. 2.12) and therefore it has to be established in the areas mentioned in this article. However the company can have, in its team of expert, persons coming from countries not mentioned in the article (for example a German company that has in the team of expert an American engineer).

In the framework of EC financed grant contracts for external actions, the actual cost of the purchase or rental of equipment is fully eligible for financing, irrespective of the duration of the project and the period of depreciation.

According to article 15.7 of the General Conditions (Annex II to the Grant Contract), a financial guarantee will be requested to Beneficiaries “if the total sum of pre-financing paid under the Contract is more than 80% of the Contract amount and exceeds EUR 60 000, its payment must be fully covered by a financial guarantee. Where the Beneficiary is a non-governmental organisation, such guarantee is requested if the total sum of pre-financing paid under the Contract is more than EUR 1 million or 90% of the Contract amount. The financial guarantee must be denominated in euro or local currency, conforming to the model in Annex VIII and, unless the Contracting Authority otherwise agrees, provided by an approved bank or financial institution established in one of the Member States of the European Community. This guarantee shall remain in force until its release by the Contracting Authority when the total amount of pre-financing under the Contract is once again less than EUR 1 million or after payment of the balance.
This provision shall not apply if the Beneficiary is a government department or public body or an international organisation, unless otherwise stipulated in the Special Conditions”.

Even though International Organisations (IO) do not contribute to the requirement concerning the minimum geographical composition of the partnership (see Guidelines for Applicants, section 3.1.1), if an IO is located in a MPC, it contributes to the fulfillment of the so called "50%” rule (see "Guidelines for Applicants, section 3.2.1). The portion of the budget managed by an International Organisation based in a MPC will count to satisfy this requirement.

Provided that the administrative costs cannot exceed 7% of the total direct eligible costs at project level, the JMA suggests to allocate the same percentage to all partners.

No, there is no pre-defined threshold, except for administrative costs (not exceeding 7% of the direct eligible costs) and contingency reserve (not exceeding 5% of the direct eligible costs). It is recommended to consult the different criteria in the Project Evaluation Grid (section 4.2.2 of the Guidelines for Applicants) that will be used to assess the Budget.

According to par. 4.1.1 of the Guidelines for Applicants, the total eligible budget costs cannot vary from the initial estimate by more than 20% provided that the limits set under paragraphs 2.5 (% of Programme contribution and co-financing) and 3.3 (total eligible budget costs) are respected. This means that the ceilings set by the call must be respected: a minimum of 2.000.000 euro up to a maximum of 5.000.000 euro of total eligible costs including both the ENPI contribution (maximum 90% of project total eligible costs) and the project co-financing (minimum 10%). See also questions n. 3.1 and 3.7 published on the Programme website under the “Questions and answers” section of the call for strategic projects.

Provided that the JMA cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of costs, the general principle mentioned in section  2.5 of the Guidelines for Grant Applicants is that at least 50% of the total eligible budget costs of the project shall be dedicated to activities implemented in the Mediterranean Partner Countries territories as listed in section 3.1.1. In order to fulfill this requirement, project proposals shall:
- foresee to allocate at least the 50% of the budget costs to the partners from the Mediterranean Partner Countries
or
- in case the financial allocation to partners from Mediterranean Partner Countries is lower than the said minimum percentage, the difference up to the 50% shall be justified by activities implemented by EU Applicant or partner/s and/or International Organisations in the Mediterranean Partner Countries. The said budget costs shall be indicated and justified in the dedicated budget table in the Grant Application Form.
 
As far as the travel cost category is concerned, the principle implies that these costs are counted in the budget of each partner.
Therefore if they are incurred by the EU partners to attend events in Mediterranean Partner Countries they cannot be counted in order to fulfill the above mentioned criterion. Please note that detailed instructions will be provided on this point to projects pre-selected to stage 2, i.e. invited to submit a Full Application Form.

The per diem corresponding to the country of destination shall be applied. The per diem scales published by the European Commission are available here. (http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/work/procedures/implementation/per_diems/i...)

According to article 14.2 of the General Conditions (Annex II of the Grant Contract), travel and subsistence costs are eligible provided that “they do not exceed those normally borne by the Beneficiary or its partners, as the case may be”. Therefore travel and subsistence costs must follow the rules usually applied by the organisation. In case the organisation uses flat-rate reimbursement (per diem), these must not exceed the rates set out published by the European Commission at the time of the signing of the Grant Contract. The per diem scales of the European Commission are available here. (http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/work/procedures/implementation/per_diems/i...)
No maximum amount has been set for a project, but the total cost of travels cannot constitute the bulk of the project budget, since travels should aim at contributing to achieve the expected project results.

The purchase or rent of equipment/technology must follow the procurement rules set in Annex IV of the Grant Contract (see question 3.20). Moreover according to PRAG (paragraph 6.1.1) “under no circumstances may the grant give rise to profits”: therefore it is not possible to purchase or rent the equipment form a partner participating in the project.

As per PRAG, the JMA cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of an Applicant, a partner, a project or specific activities. According to section 3.2.2 of the Guidelines for Applicants, the projects concerning only or mainly the following activities are ineligible:
- individual sponsorships for participation in workshops, seminars, conferences, congresses
- individual scholarships for studies or training courses;
- pure academic and research oriented activities;
- studies;
- one-off conferences: conferences can only be funded if they form part of a wider range of activities to be implemented in the life-time of the project. For these purposes, preparatory activities for a conference and the publication of the proceedings of the conference do not, in themselves, constitute such "wider activities”.

Yes. According to section 3.3.2, credits to third parties are ineligible costs. Therefore micro-credits activities are not considered as eligible costs under this call (see also article 14.6 of Annex II “General Conditions” attached to the Grant Contract - Annex D).

If the implementation of the project requires procurement by the Beneficiary or the partners to purchase equipment, services or works, the rules set by Annex IV “Procurement by grant Beneficiaries in the context of European Union external actions” must be applied. As general principles, the contract must be awarded to the most economically advantageous tender (i.e., the tender offering the best price-quality ratio), in accordance with the principles of transparency and fair competition for potential contractors and taking care to avoid any conflicts of interest. In the event of failure to comply with the rules set out in annex IV, expenditure on the operations in question is not eligible for Community financing.

According to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1998/2006 (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:379:0005...)on de minimis regime, aid of no more than € 200.000 granted over a period of three years is not regarded as State aid. A specific ceiling of € 100.000 applies to road transport. The Regulation does not apply to aid for fisheries and aquaculture, the primary production of agricultural products (for this specific field please refer to (EC) No 875/2007 at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:193:0006...), export-related activities, the coal sector, the acquisition of road freight transport vehicles or firms in difficulty, or to aid tied to the use of domestic over imported goods. It applies to aid granted to firms in all other sectors, including transport and, on certain conditions, for the processing and marketing of agricultural products.
The JMA cannot give a prior opinion on the respect of this regime since this will be assessed during the evaluation of project proposals and because it also depends on the nature of the activities to be implemented. Interested Applicants and partners are thus strongly invited to consult Commission Regulation (EC) No 1998/2006.
Moreover the possibility to apply the provisions of the Commission Communication on "Temporary Community framework for State aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis" will depend on each EU Member State. Therefore it is highly recommended to contact the authority/office in charge of State aid issues at national level in order to find out whether this is applicable or not. Please note that the said temporary framework does not apply to subjects belonging to Cyprus and Italy receiving funding under the ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme.
For more detailed information, see the Note on State Aid(http://www.enpicbcmed.eu/documenti/29_38_20091009161313.pdf).

As a general rule, the JMA cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of a budget item. Eligible costs are listed in article 14.2 of Annex II “General Conditions”.
Some issues should be taken into consideration for the development of a prototype. As per section 6.2.10 of the Practical Guide to Contract Procedures for the EU external Actions (PRAG) "Grants may not have the purpose or effect of producing a profit for the beneficiary...".
Moreover, according to art. 7.2 of the General Conditions, as modified by art. 7.2.8 of the Special Conditions "[...] the Beneficiary grants the Contracting Authority the right to use freely (free of charge) and as both see fit all documents deriving from the Action other than those reports referred to in Article 2, whatever their form, provided it does not thereby breach existing industrial and intellectual property rights".

According to art. 14 of Annex II to the Grant Contract “General Conditions” (as modified by article 7.2.12 of the Special Conditions) , the Programme can finance "small" infrastructures (defined as "basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society"). The "small" size also relates to the concerned costs compared with the overall project budget.
A clear identification of what has to be considered as "Infrastructure" compared with the items that shall be included under the "Equipment" cost category is a pre-condition. In order to be eligible, according to section 3.3.1 of the Guidelines, the cost of infrastructures must be listed and specified in the Budget for appraisal by the Project Selection Committee due to their potential territorial impact.
Furthermore, there is no pre-defined maximum percentage set for any cost category of the Budget (with the exception of “Administrative costs” and “Contingency reserve”), and the rules set by Annex IV to the Grant Contract “Procurement by grant Beneficiaries” shall apply to purchase the foreseen infrastructures.

The payments to projects follow the rules set by Article 15 “Payment and interest on late payment” of Annex II “General Conditions”.
Option 2 mentioned by the said article shall apply as far as the payments are concerned. In particular, all payments to projects will follow the calendar established by the JMA and the Beneficiary in the Special Conditions. For the first pre-financing the JMA can advance up to 80% of the Programme contribution foreseen for the first year. In any case the total sum of pre-financing under the Contract may not exceed 90% of the amount referred to in Article 3.2 of the Special Conditions (i.e the Programme contribution).
According to article 4.3 of the Special Conditions, the first pre-financing is transferred to the Beneficiary by the JMA within 45 days from the signature of the Grant Contract, provided that the Beneficiary has communicated to the JMA the name of external auditor that will perform the expenditure verification (see also article 5.2 of the Special Conditions).
Finally, according to the Joint Operational Programme, the Beneficiary is provided with 30 calendar days to transfer the respective financing to its partners. Further payments will be made according to options 1 or 2 defined in the Special Conditions (article 4) and will be based on the level of certified expenditures of the Beneficiary and each partner and the forecast expenditures foreseen for the following year (see also article 15 of the General Conditions).

Yes, as stated in par. 3.3.1 of the Guidelines for Applicants and according to art. 14.2 of the General Conditions (Annex II), the cost of staff assigned to the project, corresponding to actual gross salaries including social security charges and other remuneration-related costs, is eligible. The salaries and costs must not exceed those normally borne by the Beneficiary or its partners, unless it is justified by showing that it is essential to carry out the activities of the project.

There are no billing threshold for Applicants. However the financial capacity to manage the budget of the project will be assessed during stage 2 (see evaluation criteria n. 1.3 and 1.4 of the Full Application Form in the Guidelines for Applicants).

According to par. 2.5 of the Guidelines for Applicants, a same organisation cannot manage more than 30% of the total eligible costs. Moreover at least 50% of the total eligible budget costs of the project shall be dedicated to activities implemented in the Mediterranean Partner Countries territories as listed in section 3.1.1. of the Guidelines for Applicants.

There is no minimum threshold of co-financing set for each partner. The co-financing shall be provided at project level and shall amount to a minimum of 10% of the total eligible costs as indicated in the Budget for the Project (Annex III - worksheet 3).
The co-financing can come from the Applicant/partner’s own resources or from funds of other national/local institutions, etc. "In kind" co-financing is not eligible: the Beneficiary and its partners will therefore have to provide evidence of actual payments for all project expenditures, irrespective of the source of funding. The expenditure for staff (Human Resources) is not considered as contribution “in kind” and can be considered as co-financing (see art. 14.5 of Annex II “General Conditions”).

No maximum threshold applies however these costs have to be duly justified in worksheet 2 of Annex III “Budget for the Project”. In spite of that, it should be underlined that as per article 1.3 of the General Conditions “the Beneficiary may subcontract a limited portion of the Action. The bulk of the Action must, however, be undertaken by the Beneficiary and……his partners”.

The CIPE Decree n. 36 of 15.06.2007 indicates that Italian Applicants/partners of ENPI CBCB MED projects can recover their eligible costs once certified by accessing the "Fondo di Rotazione" national mechanism managed by Ministry of Economy and Finance (IGRUE), up to a maximum of 10% of their own budget. However, due to the current limitations of available funds, the JMA is verifying with the above mentioned authority if a reduction on the maximum amount or percentage shall apply. An official note will be published soon on the Programme website.

As indicated in article 2 of Annex IV (Contract-award procedures), the participation in tender procedures administered by the Beneficiary shall comply with the nationality rule. However article 2.3 of the same document, as replaced by article 7.3.3 of the Special Conditions, sets some derogations to the nationality rule. In particular “derogations as provided for in paragraph 2 may be justified on the basis of the unavailability of products and services in the markets of the countries concerned, for reasons of extreme urgency, or if the eligibility rules would make the realisation of a project, a programme or an action impossible or exceedingly difficult."

Yes, audit costs are eligible (article 14 of the General Conditions), within a maximum of 3% of the project budget (section 3.3.1 of the Joint Operational Programme).

There is no minimum threshold set for the co-financing by each partner. The co-financing shall be provided at project level and shall amount to a minimum of 10% of the total eligible costs as indicated in the Budget for the Project (Annex III, worksheet 3).

Yes, the cost of staff assigned to the Project is not a contribution in kind and may be considered as co-financing in the Budget for the Project when paid by the Beneficiary or his partners (article 7.2.13 of the Special Conditions modifying art. 14.5 of the General Conditions).

No, any contributions in kind (such as voluntary work or provision of offices) which must be described in the Application Form, do not represent actual expenditures and are not eligible costs (article 14.5 of the General Conditions). Therefore, contributions in kind may not be treated as co-financing by the Beneficiary. If the proposal foresees contributions in kind despite their ineligibility, such contributions have to be provided.

There is no fixed prior apportionment that shall be given to the Beneficiary or to partners. However, according to paragraph 2.5 of the Guidelines for Applicants “Each participating organisation cannot manage more than 30 % of the total eligible budget (the only exception is when there is only one partner from Mediterranean Partner Countries which might have 50% of the total budget). The project budget shall be drafted in order to guarantee the coherence between the activities to be implemented by each subject and their costs.

No, they are not eligible. According to section 3.3 of the Guidelines for Applicants and article 14 of the General Conditions, grants may only cover costs incurred after the date on which the Grant Contract is signed or a later date indicated in the Contract.

The JMA cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of the costs of some specific activities/items. All information regarding eligible costs can be found in section 3.3 of the Guidelines for Applicants and in article 14 of the General Conditions (Annex II of the Standard Grant Contract).

Total budget of a strategic project ranges from a minimum of 2.000.000 euro up to a maximum of 5.000.000 euro. These amounts shall include both the ENPI contribution (90% of project total eligible costs) and the project co-financing (10%).