Frequently Asked Questions
Questions on project generation, application and reporting are answered on this page.
Reporting and control
How many work packages can we foresee in the application form?
For small-scale projects, only one WP shall be inserted.
For classic projects, it is recommended to foresee three WPs. Only in well justified cases up to five WPs shall be set up. It should be considered that each WP is linked to a separate project-specific objective.
What target figure should I put when I plan pilot actions?
Projects should quantify the methodology that will be tested regardless of the number of pilot sites. In order words, projects should count the methodology or methodologies the partnership will implement in one or more territories. Please also consider that the implementation of pilot actions must end before the closure of the project. Otherwise it will not be possible to recalibrate the methodology or take conclusions that could lead to jointly developed solutions.
For further information please refer to Annex VII of the Programme Manual.
What should I do if I plan an output that does not fit into the predefined categories (RC084 and RC016)?
If the output (product) you have planned to achieve with activities in a work package is no “pilot action” (RC084) and no “solution” (RC016), you should select “other”. This could for instance be the case if you intend to develop strategic outputs, such as policy briefs or recommendations for instance.
What is a “jointly developed solution”?
“Jointly developed solutions” are products that shall have an implementation-oriented character (e.g. tool-boxes, instruments, models, concepts/methods, action plans, roadmaps, processes…).
It is one of the two output indicators (RCO116) selected by the programme that shall capture the achievements of its co-funded projects, the other one being “pilot actions developed jointly and implemented in projects” (RCO84).
How to allocate the activities and budget related to project management and communication of the work packages?
Communication and programme management activities shall be described in section C.4 and C.7 of the application form, respectively. Communication activities have to be detailed at work package level (“communication objectives and target audience”), while project management is to be addressed at project level only. This information is required in step 2 of the application procedure for classic projects.
Project proposals do not have to structure the budget across work packages. Instead the budget must be distributed across cost categories and reporting periods, including any expenditure related to communication and project management.
Is the budget simulator provided on programme level an obligatory tool?
No, the budget simulator aims at supporting the applicants to select the best cost calculation option and is intended for project-internal use only. There is no obligation to use it, nor has it to be submitted together with the application form.
Should the lead applicant collect and upload national requirements in Jems?
No, it is not in the responsibility of the lead applicant to collect at project level the information requested on national level. Consequently also any related documents should not be uploaded in Jems.
If there are any national requirements, these shall be addressed directly by the single project partner to the relevant Alpine Space contact point.
Will a high number of universities and a low number of public institutions be penalized in the assessment of the project proposal?
The programme does not favour projects with a clear research focus, while applied aspects are paramount: Strategic policy development, explorative and piloting activities as well as dissemination and capitalisation activities to encourage policy implementation across sectors and regions. Projects shall apply a result-oriented approach and deliver tangible results, embedded in a broader strategic context, such as EUSALP or other EU or pan-Alpine policies.
An excessive number of R&D partners in a project partnership will be reflected in a lower score.
Who can be lead partner?
The lead partner shall be a public or public equivalent institution.
What is an ideal number of partners in a project?
For classic projects 7 to 12 partners (including the lead partner and non-EU partners) from at least 4 different countries of the programme area shall be involved.
Partnership of small-scale projects shall consist of 3 to 6 partners from at least three different countries of the programme area.
Deviation may be accepted only in well-justified cases. The perfect size is determined by the objectives of the projects and the competences needed to implement the project. A good balance should also be sought in terms of territory and type of partners (e.g. administrations from different levels, business support organisation, research institutes, NGOs.).
How many partners can be involved per country?
There are no limitations per country but projects should be ready to justify the concentration of partners in the territory.
Projects have to ensure both geographical and sectoral coverage. Equally important is the fact that projects must bring together implementers and multipliers.
Are Alpine Space Contact Points (ACP) supporting partner search outside their own country?
National ACPs are well connected and will be happy to help applicants find relevant partners in other countries of the Alpine Space. Please bear in mind that the coordination and identification of relevant actors may take some time and contact your ACP well before the deadline.
Can we involve a partner not based in the cooperation area?
Organisations from countries other than those covered by the programme area are not eligible to take part in projects as project partners, unless these organisations are located outside the programme area in France, Italy or Germany. In other words, partners located in Paris or Berlin are eligible to take part in the programme as long as the experience and expertise is of relevance to the project.
If an institutions with whom you would like to cooperate cannot be involved as a partner, it can participate as observer or external expert in the project.
How many proposals can be submitted from one organization as project or lead partner?
There are no limitations but applicants should keep in mind the resources required to ensure timely delivery of one or more projects.
What is an observer?
Observers contribute on a voluntary basis and are not eligible to ERDF support. They may have different roles in a project, for example:
- Enrich the partnership with expertise in the chosen field and/or promote the project results among target groups.
- Test project outputs or implement them at the end of the project.
- Support the uptake of results at policy level.
Therefore, not the number of observers, but their relevance within the chosen topic to achieve the envisaged results is important. Moreover the participation of observers has no impact on the assessment and scoring of project applications.
Does the programme co-finance infrastructure?
No, infrastructure investments cannot be co-financed by Interreg Alpine Space.
Which rules apply if a private project participant intends to contract an affiliated organisation?
Chapter B.3 of the programme manual (“eligibility rules”) says that expenses of organisations contracted via in-house-procurement can be considered as eligible as long as based on verified actual and eligible costs without any additional fees charged.
The respective expenses shall be reported in the cost categories they would normally belong to if directly incurred by the beneficiary. The present eligibility rules therefore apply in full to organisations contracted via in-house procurement too (i.e. staff costs calculation for an employee of such an organisation is the same as the one for an employee of the project partner; flat rates selected by the beneficiary in the approved application form to cover costs in single cost categories do also apply one-to-one for the in-house-procured party). The same rule shall apply to contracts concluded between public bodies falling outside the scope of the EU public procurement directive (Article 12 (4) of Directive 2014/24/EU).
Consequently, it has to be considered, that the eligibility rules are also linked to the different simplified cost options selected. Travel and accommodation costs as well as any office and administration costs of “in-house procured” contracted parties can only be considered on the basis of the defined flat rates. If in addition any other simplified cost options have been selected on the level of the contracting partner (such as 20% flat rate for staff costs or 40% of other costs), these do also apply for the “in-house” procured party.
Are project partners (PP) required to open a separate bank account for the project?
It is strongly recommended that PP open a separate bank account for the project. Alternatively, a separate accounting code is sufficient as long as there is an adequate bookkeeping system that allows the clear identification of project expenditure.
Please consider that all expenditure based on real-costs (also staff costs) and all incomes stemming from the ERDF or national co-financing need to be booked on the project account or the project accounting code. This obligation is regulated in article 8 of the partnership agreement.
What if I ticked the wrong cost calculation option (e.g. flat rate for “office and administration”) in the application form?
The cost calculation options have to be selected already in the application phase. No changes are allowed after the approval. Consequently, we strongly recommend to check the indications in the AF carefully before submitting it via the Jems.
Which funding sources are eligible for the 25% co-financing which are not co-financed by the Interreg Alpine Space programme?
Projects may cover the 25% with public or private funding – from own or external resources.
Are changes of budget between periods possible?
The budget allocation per period as stated in the approved application form cannot be changed unless there is a reduction in the approved ERDF.
For more information, see chapter D.6 of the programme manual.
Where can I get information on past funded projects?
You can find the main outputs achieved by Interreg Alpine Space projects since 2014 in our project outputs library.
There are several possibilities to find co-financed Interreg projects, which were implemented already in former periods or which are still running that you can check on similarities or synergies. On EU-wide level the Interact database keep.eu includes projects from 2000 onwards.
In order to boost EU-wide policy learning and capitalisation on practices from regional development policies, the Interreg Europe developed The Policy Learning Platform, a space for continuous learning where the policymaking community in Europe can tap into the know-how of experts and peers.
Which logo should funded projects use?
Funded projects receive a customised Interreg Alpine Space logo. This should be used according to the corporate design manual.
We are planning to use background intellectual property rights (IPR): Is it possible to regulate this in the Partnership Agreement (PA)?
The PA is provided to applicants as a standard template. It is nonetheless possible to add IPR regulation in it. Please do however always consult the Managing Authority (MA) before implementing any changes: the MA will confirm on a case by case basis if the changes you propose are fine. In this case, the draft PA should be sent at the latest 10 days before project submission deadline at the email@example.com.
For any other information regarding the PA you can also consult the “Partnership agreement guidance” which you can find in the “Application Kit” under the Project applicants’ webpage.
Can project management and communication tasks be outsourced to an external contractor?
Yes both activities may be outsourced to an external contractor but the project should be able to explain it in step 2 of the selection procedure.
Applicants must keep in mind that projects require time and resources for coordination and internal communication. Otherwise it might be difficult to mitigate the risks. For further explanations please refer to annex 1a of the programme manual (p. 27-28).
Cost eligibility rules
Should the staff costs be documented with time sheets?
There is no need to document staff costs with time sheets. The type of supporting documents to be provided depends on the option selected in the application form:
- In case of real costs, the staff costs documentation has to be supported by project assignments issued for each single staff member involved in the project and reporting period in question. In addition, the calculation of the extent of assignment shall be sufficiently documented.
- In case of applying the 20% flat rate for staff costs, no staff-specific documentation is required except a proof that the beneficiary has at least one employee (e.g. by providing a registration at the social insurance agency).
For more details please check chapter B.3 of the programme manual.
When should project assignments be issued and signed?
Assignments shall be issued and signed in advance (before the starting date of assignment). Only in justified cases (such as the project start phase) minor delays may be accepted. A delayed signature of an assignment may result in the ineligibility of the related staff costs and a corresponding financial correction.
Is it possible to assign an employee 100% on the project for a specific period?
Yes, it is possible to assign a staff member with 100% to a project for a specific period or the whole project duration.
How to deal with project assignments in case of staff changes?
The assignments are always linked to a person/employee. If there is a staff change, a new assignment has to be set up and signed. It is recommended to provide a short information about the changes in a note for file.
Can one employee have more than one assignment per reporting period?
Generally, there should be one assignment per staff member working on the project and per reporting period. Since the percentage of assignment is an average estimation for the period, there should be no need to have more than one assignment per period.
Is it possible to change the percentage of assignment of one employee?
The extent of assignment may vary between the reporting periods, depending on the activities to be implemented.
Changes within a period should be avoided and are possible in very well justified cases and for major deviations only (e.g. changes in the tasks and responsibilities of the employees). In this specific and restrictive case, the respective change shall be documented in a new assignment substituting the original one from the date from which the changes take place. Consequently, two assignments would exist for the period in question: one covering the first part of the period, one covering the second part.
Staff cost with fixed percentage method: since the fixed percentage is an estimation, has it to be verified by the controller and/or the auditor?
It is true that the assignments are based on estimations and have to be issued ahead of the period. The estimated extent of assignment shall be calculated carefully and in line with the programme requirements. There is no ex-post verification requested. But in any case, the calculation of the extent of assignment shall be sufficiently documented, so to allow controllers/auditors a plausibility check on the calculated value.
Are sick or parental leave allowances eligible as part of the staff costs? What about overtime?
Sick or parental leave allowances are eligible within the extent of assignment as long as they are definitely paid and borne by the project partner institution.
Additional staff costs related to overtime are ineligible as the project-relevance of the related expenditure could be questioned.
Are staff costs of political office holders eligible?
Staff costs of political office holders (e.g. mayors) are generally not considered eligible, even if they have an employment contract by the respective administration. The reason for the ineligibility is the lack of additionality of the expenses, since the tasks associated with the political mandate cannot be transferred to employees.
Is it possible to report travel and accommodation costs of observers?
Project partners can reimburse the travel and accommodation costs of any expert, which includes observers, if agreed in advance (written agreement, information on the expected input of the body, the estimated amount and procedure of reimbursement) and if the presence of the observer is justified.
In case of applying the real costs method for “external expertise and service costs”, these costs shall be reported under the budget line “external expertise and services costs”.
In case of applying the 40% flat rate for other costs, the costs on observer level are covered with this flat rate.
Is it possible to claim the flat rates for “office and administration costs” and “travel and accommodation costs” also in combination with the flat rate for staff?
Will the 40% flat rate also cover the “office and administration costs” or are they in addition?
The flat rate of 40% for other costs covers also the office and administration costs.
How to deal with new project equipment or a change in the equipment planned in the application form?
The cost category equipment underlies specific and more restrictive rules. Equipment items – unless listed in the approved application form – need to be explicitly approved in advance and in written by the Joint Secretariat. Please get in contact with your project officer in case of any changes as regards the planned equipment.
Reporting and control
Can a project partner report expenditure incurred before the end of the project? Could it be paid after project closure date?
Yes, expenses based on payments initialised with a minor delay after the project implementation period can be accepted, as long as the activities have been implemented before the project closure date. We recommend partners to agree with their controllers on the timing.
As stated in the eligibility rules, any cost related to activities implemented after the project closure are ineligible with the exception of the final invoice of the controller.
How to proceed if a project partner exceeds its total partner budget?
As stated in Article 5 (4) lit e) of the partnership agreement, it is the partner’s obligation to “only implement changes in its approved budget if they comply with the flexibility rules stated in the programme manual and if prior approval from the LP or the programme bodies has been provided, as appropriate”.
If a project partner exceeds its total ERDF budget, it has to provide evidence to the controller that this excess spending is in line with the programme flexibility rule: i.e. that the total ERDF budget per partner does not exceed 20% or ERDF 20,000 EUR (whichever is greater) and that the total project ERDF budget is not exceeded.
For this reasons the approval of the lead partner (or ERDF LP) is required, e.g. new budget allocation approved by the LP/ERDF LP, or email where the LP/ERDF LP confirms the possibility to report additional expenditure in line with the programme flexibility rule. If this approval is not provided, or if the excess spending goes beyond the flexibility rule, the related expenditure shall not be certified by the controller.
Is it accepted that the controller certifies a higher amount than actually declared by the project partner?
No, controllers can only certify what has been declared in the list of expenditure. In case of supplements/necessary amendments, the partner report shall be reverted by the controller to the partner level so that the necessary changes can be implemented.
What is the retention period for the project documentation?
The documents shall be kept for at least five years from December 31st of the year in which the last payment by the Managing Authority (MA) to the project is made, unless the MA does not inform at an earlier point of time that the keeping of documents is no longer required for the project.
What will be checked by the controller when flat rate options are applied?
The controller will focus its check on the costs calculated on real-cost basis. The flat-rates will apply automatically and will not be subject to the control
What consequences do changes in the national contribution of project partner have?
There are no financial consequences as long as double financing can be excluded (see chapter B.3.1 of the programme manual). If national public subsidies are in total higher than 25%, the ERDF contribution will be reduced correspondingly.
Project partners should anyhow inform the Managing Authority/Joint Secretariat about any changes with regard to the national contribution and report these accordingly in the partner reports.
What if a project partner wants to change the cost calculation method?
The cost calculation options have to be selected already in the application phase. No changes are allowed after the approval.