COVID 19 impact: how to keep going with your EU project?

The Covid-19 pandemic spreading all over Europe is having a striking impact on every sector. Despite the crisis, EU projects and the work engaged at the local and regional level towards the Energy transition is still ongoing. There might however be some adaptations, due to the practical impact of the crisis on many EU projects, may them be ongoing or future ones. Here is an overview of the different measures taken in reaction to the crisis regarding EU projects and EU projects proposals.

Horizon 2020 calls for proposals:

If you are applying for an Horizon 2020 project, here are some useful information for your application:

Extension of deadlines:

  • If the original deadline is between now and 15th April: the deadline will be extended. The relevant information for each of those calls is available on the Funding and Tender Portal.
  • INEA calls with an original deadline on April 21rst are not extended.
  • No extension of deadline for the Last Energy Efficiency calls: the deadline to submit the proposal is September 10th 2020.

Horizon 2020 ongoing projects:

As a beneficiary of an ongoing Horizon 2020 Project, here is what you need to know: 

Beneficiaries can request an amendment for an extension of the initial duration of the project up to 6 months.

If reorienting your project might contribute to tackling the coronavirus crisis, this could be granted (via an amendment), upon request by beneficiaries. This will be assessed on a case by case basis by the funding body.

Article 51 of the H2020 model grant agreement gives the different conditions in which this clause can be used.  In case of force majeure, a party will be excused for not fulfilling its obligations.

If beneficiaries are forced, due to the particular impact of the virus in a zone, to cancel events and meetings, they must immediately inform the Project Officer which will examine on a case-by-case basis the possible application of the rules on force majeure, according to the conditions set up in article 51.

Which documents are necessary? Beneficiaries must comply with the requirements of article 18 of the Grant Agreement: appropriate and sufficient evidence to prove the eligibility of all cost declared and their proper implementation must be provided. Given these exceptional circumstances, beneficiaries might have to depart from their usual records or supporting documents.

The Legal and Financial H2020 Helpdesk provides this example: Beneficiaries might not be able to attend meetings or events related to the action because of their recent contact with someone suffering from the virus or their presence in an area considered to be at high risk. Costs of travel or accommodation that could not be cancelled and which are not reimbursed from other sources could be eligible (provided that the cost eligibility conditions are fulfilled, notably that meeting was necessary for the action, the costs were reasonable and in line with the usual practices of the beneficiary on travel) even if the beneficiary did not travel and did not take part in the meeting/event.

For more information, check out the  Funding & Tenders portal here. A set of FAQs for Horizon 2020 related to the coronavirus outbreak has been published.

LIFE calls for proposals:

  • Regarding LIFE preparatory calls for proposals published on September 2019 under the LIFE Sub-Program for Environment, the 3rd deadline for submission has been extended to April 20th.

  • Regarding LIFE Calls published in April 2020: Several measures have been taken by EASME to answer the crisis regarding the new LIFE calls opened on  April 2nd.
  •  All submission deadlines are being extended by one month; this concerns both the deadline for the submission of the concept note for the Environment sub-program and the deadline for the submission of the full proposal for the Climate action sub -program. Find the new deadlines here.
  • There is a possibility for LIFE projects applicants to register for a one-to-one short discussion about their project concept with EASME Project advisors.  
  • Private entities are no longer obliged to launch open tenders for contracts above 135 000 euros.
  • In all projects, grants will be available for the beneficiary to give to 3rd parties responsible for local initiatives. All projects will therefore be allowed to financially support local initiatives and facilitate access to LIFE financing to small local groups not able to associate as beneficiaries but working towards the project’s objectives.
  • The guidelines now integrate a special section on start-up companies, aiming at a possible integration of those actors into the project. Normally start-ups do not qualify as a coordinating beneficiary due to their limited financial capacity, but can still play an important role through a partnership with larger companies.

In case you need more information on LIFE, do nott forget to participate to the virtual LIFE info Day on April 30th.

Ongoing Interreg Projects:

Several measures have been implemented to help beneficiaries. The situation is dealt with on a case by case basis. Some flexibility will be shown regarding progress reports submission deadlines.

Tools and services to hold online meetings might be eligible in the relevant budget lines.

For more information, you are invited to contact your Joint Secretariat Officer and your first level controller. Check out here for more details.

General information about the EU’s response to the crisis can be found on the European Commission’s website: 'the corona virus response team'.