FAQ for project partner

Frequently asked questions from project partners on project generation and application are answered on this page. They complete or explicit the information of the programme manual.
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Finances

Staff costs
Other costs
Simplified cost options
Reporting
Control related questions
Project changes
Application faq

Finances

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The programme has rules on the minimum and maximum size of a partnership, which are at least 4 project partners from 4 countries and max. 15 project partners (including the lead partner and non-EU partners). Priority 4 projects are encouraged to limit the number of partners in the partnership to 10.

Overall, experience shows that a number between eight and twelve partners seems adequate for a successful implementation. The ideal size is determined by the objectives of the projects and the competences needed to implement it; a good balance should also be sought in terms of territory and type of partners (e.g. administrations, business support, NGOs, private sectors, etc.).

When defining the partnership, the following questions might be helpful: Which partners does the project need to be able to achieve the project objectives and results? Which partners are able to influence policies or procedures to enable that the envisaged changes in the chosen field? 

Are project partners (PP) required to open a separate bank account for the project?

It is strongly recommended that PP install a separate bank account. 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.

Staff costs

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The programme has rules on the minimum and maximum size of a partnership, which are at least 4 project partners from 4 countries and max. 15 project partners (including the lead partner and non-EU partners). Priority 4 projects are encouraged to limit the number of partners in the partnership to 10.

Overall, experience shows that a number between eight and twelve partners seems adequate for a successful implementation. The ideal size is determined by the objectives of the projects and the competences needed to implement it; a good balance should also be sought in terms of territory and type of partners (e.g. administrations, business support, NGOs, private sectors, etc.).

When defining the partnership, the following questions might be helpful: Which partners does the project need to be able to achieve the project objectives and results? Which partners are able to influence policies or procedures to enable that the envisaged changes in the chosen field? 

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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 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.

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.

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Persona (an archetypal user for whom the product or service is being designed)

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. 

Is it possible to change the percentage of assignment of one employee between reporting periods? How to handle deviations: Is it possible to change the percentage even within the same reporting period?

Yes, 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).

 
Are sick or parental leave allowances eligible as part of the staff costs?

Sick or parental leave allowances are eligible within the extent of assignment as long as they are definitely paid and borne by the PP institution.

 
Are staff costs related to overtime eligible?

Additional staff costs related to overtime are ineligible as the project-relevance of the related expenditure could be questioned.

 

 

 

Other costs (travel and accommodation, equipment, external expertise and service)

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The programme has rules on the minimum and maximum size of a partnership, which are at least 4 project partners from 4 countries and max. 15 project partners (including the lead partner and non-EU partners). Priority 4 projects are encouraged to limit the number of partners in the partnership to 10.

Overall, experience shows that a number between eight and twelve partners seems adequate for a successful implementation. The ideal size is determined by the objectives of the projects and the competences needed to implement it; a good balance should also be sought in terms of territory and type of partners (e.g. administrations, business support, NGOs, private sectors, etc.).

When defining the partnership, the following questions might be helpful: Which partners does the project need to be able to achieve the project objectives and results? Which partners are able to influence policies or procedures to enable that the envisaged changes in the chosen field? 

Is it possible to report travel and accommodation costs of observers?

There are no specific rules as regards the reimbursement of costs on observer level. Project partners can reimburse the travel and accommodation costs of any expert (including 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 can 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.

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Persona (an archetypal user for whom the product or service is being designed)

With regard to the “travel and accommodation costs” covered by the flat rate, do we need to prove that the travel occurred?

No. Project partners do not need to document that the expenditure has been incurred and paid. The flat rate percentage will be applied automatically in the Jems, if the flat rate was selected in the application form.

Simplified costs options (flat rates and lump sum)

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The programme has rules on the minimum and maximum size of a partnership, which are at least 4 project partners from 4 countries and max. 15 project partners (including the lead partner and non-EU partners). Priority 4 projects are encouraged to limit the number of partners in the partnership to 10.

Overall, experience shows that a number between eight and twelve partners seems adequate for a successful implementation. The ideal size is determined by the objectives of the projects and the competences needed to implement it; a good balance should also be sought in terms of territory and type of partners (e.g. administrations, business support, NGOs, private sectors, etc.).

When defining the partnership, the following questions might be helpful: Which partners does the project need to be able to achieve the project objectives and results? Which partners are able to influence policies or procedures to enable that the envisaged changes in the chosen field? 

What if I forgot by mistake to tick e.g. the flat rate for “office and administration” or for “travel and accommodation costs” in the AF. Can this be changed/corrected later (after approval)?

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.

Can one partner use different cost combination options for different projects?

Yes, it is possible that one partner uses different cost combination options for different projects. Especially as regards staff costs, it is anyhow strongly recommended to follow the same staff costs calculation method for different projects as far as possible.

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?

Yes, partners can claim the flat rate for staff and on top the flat rate for office and administration and travel and accommodation. In this case costs for “external expertise and services” and for “equipment” should be claimed on a real cost basis.

no display

The programme has rules on the minimum and maximum size of a partnership, which are at least 4 project partners from 4 countries and max. 15 project partners (including the lead partner and non-EU partners). Priority 4 projects are encouraged to limit the number of partners in the partnership to 10.

Overall, experience shows that a number between eight and twelve partners seems adequate for a successful implementation. The ideal size is determined by the objectives of the projects and the competences needed to implement it; a good balance should also be sought in terms of territory and type of partners (e.g. administrations, business support, NGOs, private sectors, etc.).

When defining the partnership, the following questions might be helpful: Which partners does the project need to be able to achieve the project objectives and results? Which partners are able to influence policies or procedures to enable that the envisaged changes in the chosen field? 

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.

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.

Reporting

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The programme has rules on the minimum and maximum size of a partnership, which are at least 4 project partners from 4 countries and max. 15 project partners (including the lead partner and non-EU partners). Priority 4 projects are encouraged to limit the number of partners in the partnership to 10.

Overall, experience shows that a number between eight and twelve partners seems adequate for a successful implementation. The ideal size is determined by the objectives of the projects and the competences needed to implement it; a good balance should also be sought in terms of territory and type of partners (e.g. administrations, business support, NGOs, private sectors, etc.).

When defining the partnership, the following questions might be helpful: Which partners does the project need to be able to achieve the project objectives and results? Which partners are able to influence policies or procedures to enable that the envisaged changes in the chosen field? 

Can a project partner report expenditure incurred before the end of the project, but 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. Partners are recommended 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 (PP) exceeds its total partner budget? Shall the controller certify the exceeding expenditure?

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 PP 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 LP (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.

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Persona (an archetypal user for whom the product or service is being designed)

How to proceed if a project partner (PP) spends more than planned in a cost category? Shall the FLC certify the exceeding expenditure?

Generally the controller should certify expenditure exceeding single budget lines only if these changes have been approved by LP or ERDF/LP (see Article 5 (4) lit e) of the partnership agreement. If approved by the LP or ERDF/LP, the expenditure shall be certified even if the expenditure of the PP is exceeding the partner’s cost category budget with more than 20%. This is because the flexibility rules on cost category level shall be respected at project level (and not at the level of single partners). Please consider that the cost category equipment underlies specific and more restrictive rules: equipment items – unless listed in the approved AF – need to be explicitly approved in advance and in written by the JS.

Control related questions

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The programme has rules on the minimum and maximum size of a partnership, which are at least 4 project partners from 4 countries and max. 15 project partners (including the lead partner and non-EU partners). Priority 4 projects are encouraged to limit the number of partners in the partnership to 10.

Overall, experience shows that a number between eight and twelve partners seems adequate for a successful implementation. The ideal size is determined by the objectives of the projects and the competences needed to implement it; a good balance should also be sought in terms of territory and type of partners (e.g. administrations, business support, NGOs, private sectors, etc.).

When defining the partnership, the following questions might be helpful: Which partners does the project need to be able to achieve the project objectives and results? Which partners are able to influence policies or procedures to enable that the envisaged changes in the chosen field? 

Is it accepted that the controller certifies a higher amount as eligible expenditure than actually declared by the project partner?

No, controllers can only certify what has been reported 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 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.

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Persona (an archetypal user for whom the product or service is being designed)

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.

Project changes

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The programme has rules on the minimum and maximum size of a partnership, which are at least 4 project partners from 4 countries and max. 15 project partners (including the lead partner and non-EU partners). Priority 4 projects are encouraged to limit the number of partners in the partnership to 10.

Overall, experience shows that a number between eight and twelve partners seems adequate for a successful implementation. The ideal size is determined by the objectives of the projects and the competences needed to implement it; a good balance should also be sought in terms of territory and type of partners (e.g. administrations, business support, NGOs, private sectors, etc.).

When defining the partnership, the following questions might be helpful: Which partners does the project need to be able to achieve the project objectives and results? Which partners are able to influence policies or procedures to enable that the envisaged changes in the chosen field? 

What consequences do changes in the national contribution of project partner have (e.g. national subsidy not foreseen in the AF granted)?

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 MA/JS about any changes with regard to the national contribution and report these accordingly in the status and progress reports.

Are changes of budget between periods possible?

As highlighted in chapter D.6 of the programme manual, the budget allocation per period as stated in the approved AF cannot be changed (unless there is a reduction in the approved ERDF).

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Persona (an archetypal user for whom the product or service is being designed)

How to deal with new project equipment or a change in the equipment planned in the AF?

Please consider that the cost category equipment underlies specific and more restrictive rules: equipment items – unless listed in the approved AF – need to be explicitly approved in advance and in written by the JS. Please get in contact with your project officer in case of any changes as regards the planned equipment.

What if a PP wants to change during project duration due to objective reasons the cost calculation method? Can this be changed during project implementation?

The cost calculation options have to be selected already in the application phase. No changes are allowed after the approval.