Q: Related to the COVID-19 outbreak, how will ERCEA handle delays in the project implementation, including as regards the impossibility to fulfil the Principle Investigator (PI) time-commitment obligations under the Horizon 2020 ERC grants?

Published on : 09-04-2020 12:28 AM

FAQ ID : 13241

Similar to the general H2020 grants, given the COVID-19 situation, maximum flexibility will be given on scheduled due dates for deliverables, milestones, scientific and financial reporting as well as to the implementation of the action whose performance was impacted by the confinement measures (see FAQs on delays in submitting reports or deliverables, on interim payments, on reorientation of the action).
As regards the time-commitments obligation for PIs, the normal rules of the grant apply. We remind our beneficiaries that the PI’s time-commitments obligations must be fulfilled for the overall action duration (NOT annually or per reporting period). Therefore, if due to COVID-19 the PI cannot fulfil the time-commitment obligations under the project in a reporting period, she or he may compensate for it in the next reporting periods once the confinement measures are lifted, and fulfil the time-commitments by the end of the action. If needed, beneficiaries may suspend the action implementation during the period where no work can be carried out (in line with Article 49 H2020 MGA). In addition, if the PI cannot fulfil the time-commitment obligations for the whole action, the beneficiary may request a suitable extension of the action that will be treated favourably and swiftly (see FAQ on extension of action duration). This extension will not count against another potential extension under H2020 ERC grants, which will follow the normal rules and procedures.

Q: What about Horizon 2020 grants involving public procurement when there are difficulties in implementing procurement contracts due to the COVID-19 outbreak?

Published on : 09-04-2020 12:01 AM

FAQ ID : 13240

For grants involving public procurement (notably through implementation of actions tasks by subcontractors in line with Art. 13 H2020 MGA, or purchase of goods, works and services in line with Art. 10 H2020 MGA), e.g. for PCP/PPI (Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) and Public Procurement of Innovation Solutions) actions or actions involving PCP/PPI, an extension to the ongoing procurement contracts might be necessary due to the COVID-19 situation (e.g. for procurements in the healthcare sector whereby the hospitals now are focusing on fighting the COVID-19 crisis, or because in some countries public procurements non-related to the COVID-19 crisis are put on hold). Modifications of the procurement contracts should be processed in line with the applicable legal framework for public procurement, ensuring transparency and equal treatment.
The extension of the ongoing procurement contracts might require an extension of the Grant Agreement as well (see also FAQ on “possibility to extend the project duration”).
If not possible to carry out any work under the action, beneficiaries may also request to suspend the implementation of the action (Article 49(1) H2020 MGA). However, costs incurred during action suspension cannot be charged.

Q: What supporting documentation must beneficiaries of Horizon 2020 grants keep to prove the impact of ‘force majeure’ or delays in the submission of deliverables, reports or implementation of the action due to COVID-19 outbreak?

Published on : 08-04-2020 11:40 PM

FAQ ID : 13239

Beneficiaries must keep appropriate and sufficient evidence to prove the eligibility of all cost declared, proper implementation of the action and compliance with all the other obligations under the grant in accordance with Article 18 of the H2020 general model grant agreement. Given these exceptional circumstances, beneficiaries might have to depart from their usual records or supporting documents.
Examples:
In case of force majeure (see FAQ on Force majeure) beneficiaries must keep all documents necessary to prove the eligibility of the costs incurred (like any other costs incurred under the action) as well as all documents proving that they have taken all necessary steps to limit any damage due to force majeure. For instance, emails aiming at cancelling the train/flight ticket, claiming the reimbursement from the cancellation insurance (if applicable), changing the flight/train ticket (if possible), etc.
For personnel costs, in case of difficulties to get the timesheets counter-signed monthly by the supervisor due to the Covid-19 outbreak, an electronic version of the timesheet (scan or photo) can be sent by e-mail to the supervisor who approves it by replying by e-mail to the person (see FAQ on timesheets). In such cases, the beneficiaries must keep the original timesheet with the signature of the person plus the acceptance e-mail of the supervisor.
As regards the action implementation, beneficiaries must keep all documents necessary to support the explanations included in their scientific report. For instance, emails exchanged during teleworking period; other paper or electronic documents used instead of the laboratory notebook usually in place at the beneficiary’s premises, etc.

Q: Will there be flexibility for beneficiaries in H2020 lump sum pilot grants, if the work packages cannot be completed at the end of the reporting period due to COVID-19 outbreak?

Published on : 08-04-2020 11:34 PM

FAQ ID : 13238

According to the H2020 Lump sum Pilot MGA, only the work packages that have been fully completed may be declared by the beneficiaries in periodic reports. Partly completed work package can be only declared at the final reporting period and will entail partial lump sum payments.
Therefore, beneficiaries are encouraged whenever possible to request an amendment in view of readjusting the reporting periods schedule and/or requesting an extension of the action duration.
If beneficiaries need to rearrange some tasks due to Covid-19 outbreak for work packages not yet declared as completed, they can request to transfer part of the work and associated lump sum share (in line with Article 4 of the Lump Sum pilot MGA) via an amendment either:
within the same work package (i.e. to increase the share of a beneficiary and decrease the share of another) or,
between work packages (i.e. to increase the share allocated to a work package and decrease the share of another).
Given these exceptional circumstances, the Commission will give maximum favourable and speedy treatment as regards beneficiaries’ requests for amendments.

Q: How can beneficiaries support the hours worked in the Horizon 2020 action if the employees cannot sign or have their timesheets countersigned due to the COVID-19 pandemic measures?

Published on : 09-04-2020 12:01 AM

FAQ ID : 13237

According to Article 18 of the Horizon 2020 Model Grant Agreement, for personnel costs beneficiaries must keep time records for the numbers of hours declared (or sign a declaration of exclusive work for the action). The time records must be in writing and approved by the persons working on the action and their supervisors, at least monthly. If due to COVID-19 confinement measures, beneficiaries encounter difficulties in obtaining the monthly signature of their timesheet or if electronic signature is not possible, the Commission will accept any of the two following options:
          – The signature of the timesheets can be delayed until the confinement is lifted, or 
          – An electronic version of the timesheet (scan or photo) can be sent by e-mail to the supervisor who approves it by replying by e-mail to the person. The beneficiaries must keep the original timesheet with the signature of the person plus the acceptance e-mail of the supervisor.

Q: In Horizon 2020 grants, what happens to costs for equipment purchased exclusively for the action implementation when it cannot be used due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related confinement measures?

Published on : 09-04-2020 12:02 AM

FAQ ID : 13236

For equipment purchased for exclusive use for the action, beneficiaries are entitled to declare the full corresponding depreciation costs even if the equipment is not being actually used by researchers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Costs of new equipment that was not operational before the implementation of the COVID-19 confinement measures can only be charged to the project from the day on which its depreciation starts. Only depreciation costs for the equipment recorded in the accounts of the beneficiary can be charged to the action.

Q: In Horizon 2020 grants, will there be any flexibility given in relation to beneficiaries’ usual travel costs practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Published on : 09-04-2020 12:02 AM

FAQ ID : 13235

Travel costs will be eligible if they fulfil the general eligibility conditions set out in Article 6 of the Horizon 2020 Grant Agreement (i.e. notably if they are necessary for the action). However, given this unprecedented pandemic situation, maximum possible flexibility will be given in relation to the beneficiaries’ usual travel costs practices.

Travel costs will be accepted even if the beneficiary has to depart temporarily from its usual travel costs practices to tackle exceptional individual situations. For example, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a beneficiary might have to derogate from its normal purchase procedure in order to immediately book return flight tickets for its staff working abroad on the action.

Q: Is there any possibility to rapidly re-direct work in on-going Horizon 2020 projects to help tackling the Covid-19 outbreak?

Published on : 27-03-2020 4:58 PM

FAQ ID : 13119

Amendments should in principle not imply changes to the project that would call into question the award decision. However, due to the current situation, if reorienting your project might contribute to tackling the Coronavirus crisis, this could be granted (via an amendment), upon request by beneficiaries (assessed case-by-case by the funding body).

Q: What happens to costs in Horizon 2020 grants when there are difficulties in implementing the action due to the Covid-19 situation?

Published on : 27-03-2020 4:56 PM

FAQ ID : 13118

Yes, beneficiaries may request an amendment for an extension of up to 6 months of initial project duration due to the Covid-19 situation. Such requests will be handled favourably and in a speedy manner. Any request beyond the 6 month period mentioned before will be granted based on case-by-case assessment by the funding body. However, the maximum grant amount indicated in Article 5 H2020 MGA cannot be increased.

Q: Is there any possibility to extend the project duration of Horizon 2020 grants due to the Covid-19 situation?

Published on : 27-03-2020 4:51 PM

FAQ ID : 13117

Yes, beneficiaries may request an amendment for an extension of up to 6 months of initial project duration due to the Covid-19 situation. Such requests will be handled favourably and in a speedy manner. Any request beyond the 6 month period mentioned before will be granted based on case-by-case assessment by the funding body. However, the maximum grant amount indicated in Article 5 H2020 MGA cannot be increased.

Q: Related to the Covid-19 outbreak, what happens in Horizon 2020 grants if beneficiaries cannot submit all/complete elements for their reports related to interim and final payments?

Published on : 27-03-2020 5:05 PM

FAQ ID : 13116

For interim payments:
Given the Covid 19 situation, flexibility will be given regarding the completeness of reports submitted in relation to interim payments. Beneficiaries must still submit scientific and financial reports. However, given the Covid-19 situation, beneficiaries will be entitled to submit a shorter narrative part of their scientific report, e.g. focusing only on key explanation of work performed (e.g. key achievements; explanations on difficulties to perform tasks due to this situation etc.) The remaining documents may be submitted at the next reporting period.
For final payments:
Given the Covid 19 situation, the funding bodies will make the final payment even if the beneficiaries are unable to submit the Certificate on Financial Statements (‘CFS’) with their final reporting obligation (see Article 20.4 H2020 MGA). However, the amount of the payment for those beneficiaries who do not submit the CFS will be capped at the threshold required for CFS of EUR 324.999. Beneficiaries will receive a complementary payment once they submit the CFS for the remaining amount covered by the CFS.
If a final report is not yet complete due to other aspects (e.g. because of some tasks are not fully accomplished), coordinators may request an amendment for an extension of the action duration, up to 6 months, to complete the tasks (see FAQ on ‘project duration’. If so, beneficiaries will have still to submit their CFS with their final report later on.

Q: Related to the Covid-19 outbreak, how will the funding bodies handle possible delays in submitting deliverables and reports in Horizon 2020 grants?

Published on : 27-03-2020 5:02 PM

FAQ ID : 13115

Given the COVID 19 situation, full flexibility will be given on scheduled due dates for deliverables, milestones and reports whose performance was impacted by the confinement measures.

Q: Related to the Covid-19 outbreak, is it possible in Horizon 2020 grants to postpone the starting date of the action?

Published on : 27-03-2020 5:03 PM

FAQ ID : 13114

Postponement of the starting date of the action is possible for grant agreements about to be signed (in Grant Agreement Preparation stage) and, via an amendment, for grant agreements already signed but with a starting date in the future (no work has started yet). A starting date fixed later in time will delay the pre-financing payment.
If it is not possible to carry out any work under the action, beneficiaries may also request to suspend the implementation of the action (Article 49(1) H2020 MGA). However, costs incurred during action suspension cannot be charged.

Q: Expert contract in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak – Are evaluations and monitoring reviews still taking place?

Published on : 30-03-2020 2:55 PM

FAQ ID : 13072

Call evaluations
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, until further notice, all evaluations are carried out remotely using video or web-conference facilities. All contracted experts will receive further instructions from the call coordinator or EU services. An amendment of their contract is not necessary.
Expenses – conditions for reimbursing experts who have already bought travel tickets
Force majeure (article 20) applies. Experts will be reimbursed non-refundable travel and hotel expenses regardless of whether or not they can participate remotely.
Actual hotel costs will be reimbursed up to the agreed ceiling. Travel insurance costs (if purchased specificly for this trip) will also be reimbursed. If the amounts of the non-refundable travel and hotel expenses are covered by the travel insurance, these costs will not be reimbursed.
Experts with non-refundable tickets and hotel bookings should not cancel these tickets/bookings until the day before travel, and should check with the EU services issuing the contract, REA.C4 for H2020, before cancelling them.
Fees
Experts who participate remotely will be paid professional fees as if they had attended the meeting in person as specified in article 4.
Monitoring reviews
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and in line with Commission policy, these meetings will be delayed, or held via video or web conference.
Contract amendment might be issued with a new date and location. You will be contacted by the project officer in charge of the review or by the EU service that issued the contract.
Expenses
The usual rules and procedures apply in this case in relation to reimbursement of expert expenses.

Q: Can the clause on “force majeure” in the Horizon 2020 grant agreement be invoked in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak?

Published on : 24-03-2020 3:47 PM

FAQ ID : 12945

Article 51 of the H2020 MGA sets out the conditions in which the force majeure clause can be used. ‘Force majeure’ relates to an extraordinary and unforeseeable event or situation that is beyond the beneficiaries control and that prevents them from fulfilling their obligations under the action.
If such a situation occurs, beneficiaries must immediately inform the Commission/Agency/Funding Body, which will examine on a case-by-case basis the possible application of the rules on force majeure. Moreover, beneficiaries must immediately take all the necessary steps to limit any damage due to force majeure (e.g. try to cancel the flight ticket, claim the reimbursement from the cancellation insurance (if applicable)).
Costs will be eligible, if they fulfil the general eligibility conditions set out in Article 6 H2020 MGA like any other costs incurred under the action. For example, if a meeting/event cannot take place due to force majeure, travel and accommodation costs may still be charged to the H2020 action if they fulfil the cost eligibility conditions, even if the beneficiary did not travel and did not take part in the meeting/event. If force majeure entails extra costs for the implementation of the action, these costs may be eligible if necessary for the implementation for the action (e.g. a cancelled conference is reorganised at a later stage). However, the maximum grant amount cannot be increased.

Q: Will the deadlines for Horizon 2020 calls be extended related to the COVID-19 outbreak?

Published on : 24-03-2020 3:45 PM

FAQ ID : 12944

The recent escalation of restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak may hamper applicants’ ability to prepare and finalise high-quality proposals. For this reason, for Horizon 2020 calls with original deadlines between now and 15 April, extensions will be applied. The precise new deadlines for each call and topic will be published on the call and topic pages on the Funding and Tenders Portal.

For the IMI2-2020-21-01 call, no extension of deadline/cutoff date will apply. The cutoff date for the EIC Accelerator part of call EIC-SMEInst-2018-2020 is extended by 48 hours, to Friday 20 March 2020 at 17:00:00 (CET).

In all cases, potential applicants are advised to prepare themselves as necessary, especially by establishing effective communication links for remote collaborative work, also anticipating possible further restrictions in the coming weeks.

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