After the coronavirus was announced as a pandemic we started to notice that a lot of things changed regarding European programmes. The European Union is always working focusing on the protection of European citizens in every way possible. In all European programmes, changes have been made. Some already announced and some will be announced in the future. With this article, we will attempt to give you the most basic information regarding European programmes and how they have changed during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Erasmus plus case
At the moment, the EU has issued a fact sheet on the essential practical advice to participants in Erasmus plus and European Solidarity Corpse mobility activities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find the fact sheet here.
The European commission’s measures for the Erasmus+ programme in a nutshell:
- national agencies are authorized to invoke the force majeure clause in all cases where the application of national limitation affects the implementation of Erasmus plus or European Solidarity Corpse Projects.
- Deadlines for all planned activities may be postponed up to 12 months per project. Currently, the maximum length of the project cannot exceed 36 months.
- Ongoing Erasmus plus partnership projects have the opportunity to reschedule activities that could take place in the spring of 2020.
- All deadlines for ongoing calls have been postponed. You can find more information in the European Union’s official calls website section for COVID-19.
- All national agencies have been asked to closely follow the problems faced by participants, especially young people who are currently abroad.
The ENI CBC MED Case
The European commission’s measures for the ENI CBC MED programme to prevent any risk of all actors involved:
- replace all possible face-to-face meetings already planned with open distance meetings
- review of the activity of plans according to the restriction measures, identifying the activities which can be carried out in open distance work for assuring continuity and postponing field activities
- strictly follow all instructions and all recommendations issued by the respective national authorities
project managers need to make changes to the project activities the work plan as well as the budget. The eligibility of costs is also going to change meaning that, a lot of activities canceled due to the outbreak shall be eligible under the condition of no refund possibility.
For the ENI CBC MED programme, any project implementation that appears to be very difficult or dangerous to be completed will be suspended. The program also encourages elite beneficiaries to quickly and effectively contribute to the response to the consequences of the coronavirus emergency in the framework of the projects.
Here are the three different ways elite beneficiary can do that:
- through the use of achieved outputs of the project that will be able to support COVID-19 needs
- by extending the scope of already planned or ongoing activities to also help cover the needs of the outbreak
- by using online tools that will help overcome the outbreak restrictions.
You can find more information regarding the ENI CBCMED programme in light of the COVID-19 pandemic here.
The Interreg Europe Case
Regarding the Interreg Europe programme, the commission is quite aware of the difficulties that the projects will face. For that reason, measures have already been taken. Most of the organizations taking part in Interreg Europe projects have been informed about rescheduling activities and because such an action is going to have severe consequences on the project implementation-specific measures have been taken to help those organisations.
The first thing that changed for the programme is the flexibility of the submission deadlines of progress reports. Multiple organisations have already been contacted directly and where given in your submission deadlines. The programme Council has already invited all organisations to contact their offices at the Joint Secretariat to receive further advice.
First and foremost, it is suggested that all of the projects implemented and the Interreg Europe programme will continue on a remote level. Working remotely is the first step to smoothly continuing the project. Many teams have already started to switch in electronic versions of documents and online platforms.
The Interreg Europe team also hosted a webinar to provide tips to project managers on exactly how they can continue their project activities online. They gave ideas on the different tools and services that project managers can use that will still be eligible within the budget and the relevant budget lines. All organisations implementing projects and Interreg need to contact their lead partner and receive more information as well as a stay tuned with the program’s official website.
The Interreg MED Case
Similar to the rest of the European programmes, Interreg MED authorities are also fully aware of the difficulties during this time. For that reason, they are committed to finding solutions that will allow the program’s projects to continue. It is advised that activities continue whenever possible. If an activity will need to be postponed or reorganized online authorities will need to be informed. Traveling arrangements will also be renegotiated.
For all canceled activities the authorities of the Interreg MED project have prepared a fact sheet able to answer all of the questions regarding the eligibility of the expenses as extensively as possible. You can download the fact sheet right here.
The monitoring committee has also approved a set of flexible rules concerning the following procedures:
- Reporting and certification of expenditures
- Payment claims and Progress reports
- Payment of expenditure for projects finishing in 2020
- Signature of Subsidy Contracts for projects approved in 2019
- Projects modifications exclusively linked to COVID-19 lockdown/restrictions
- Project extension
- Budget modifications
If you need more information regarding your project you can feel free to contact your project officer preferably by email and of course, online meetings. More updates will be released during this pandemic so stay tuned.
The Horizon 2020 Case
Last but not least we have Horizon 2020. As of March 16, 2020, the European Commission has set up precautionary measures against the spread of the new coronavirus. The first thing we have been noticing is the constant change in call deadlines which will most likely continue until the budget is available or projects under specific types of calls can be implemented.
Moreover, a set of calls solely focused on combating the coronavirus has been announced, allowing scientists all around the world to work on a potential cure or any help they can provide the public.
For current projects already being implemented nothing appears to be changing. The reporting remains the same with the same deadlines. However, one thing that has changed is that now everything will need to be done online. Every meeting will now be an online meeting. Travelling has stopped and project managers need to rearrange the costs by immediately informing INEA and take all the necessary steps to limit any damage due to this force majeure such as canceled tickets and reservations, the ability to climb possible cost reimbursements and more. For Horizon 2020 INEA will be examining each case for the possible eligibility of costs based on the application of Article 51.
Amendments, ongoing and potential future will continue to be prepared as usual. When it comes to suspensions, if there is a part of the project that is really difficult or nearly impossible to be implemented due to the current situation, it can be suspended under Article 49.1 of the grant agreement by following a specific procedure set out. You can learn more about it here
You can continue to observe and learn more information about the cause of the Horizon 2020 programme during this very difficult time by staying tuned with the program’s official website
It is important to remember that during this pandemic all member states need to abide by the rules of the European Union to break the chain of transmission of the virus. There is no doubt that the outcome of the pandemic is going to be massive and for the next few months or even the next few years, the European area is going to have to face massive problems, especially in the labor market. As long as we follow the rules we do have the opportunity to reduce the danger of the virus and increase our chances of going through the problem but will occur due to a massive gap that will happen within the next few months.
Here at IED, we will attempt to keep you posted on all the latest news and updates on European Programmes by the European Union concerning the coronavirus outbreak. Stay tuned for more information about European programmes and projects as well as some tips on remote work that will help you continue your actions despite the malicious situation.