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Q: Under FP7, are tuition fees for PhD students working in an ERC project eligible costs?
A:

Academic fees may be due by post-graduate students back to their respective universities. In FP7, sometimes, in cases of work performed by the student for the university, the student may be exempt to pay (part of) the fee. This predetermined income for the university is eligible as personnel cost when there is a labour contract with the student in which the amount is indicated.

The other conditions of Article II.14.1 of the ECGA (Single and Multi-Beneficiary) have to be fulfilled as well.

See also in this regard Part 2B, section 1 on art II.15 ECGA, sub-section 1.(a.4), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues.

Q: Under FP7, which staff/personnel costs are eligible and therefore covered by the ERC Grant Agreement ? In addition, where should these costs be included?
A:

In FP7, the following costs related to the staff/personnel are covered by the ERC Grant Agreement:                                                                                                                                 - Salary of Principal Investigator:

According to Article II.15.1 of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary), the salary costs of the Principal Investigator can be covered by the ERC Grant Agreement. The amount charged can only represent the costs of the actual hours worked by the Principal Investigator on the ERC project (pro-rata to the Principal Investigator's involvement).

- Salary or costs of team members  These costs can  be covered, including for staff of HI   and  from third parties. At the time of the submission of the interim financial reports, costs should be declared for each staff member in the table "breakdown of direct costs" (Annex I to the Grant Agreement).

Any increase of salary (relating to indexations, years of service, steps in grades, increased responsibilities etc.) during the lifetime of a funded project.

However, the maximum contribution to the costs of the project is fixed in the Grant Agreement and cannot be increased (see Article II.18.4 of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement, Single and Multi- Beneficiary, and Part 1 on art. 5.1 of ECGA in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues.

- Stipends/ Scholarships: Typically, a scholarship or stipend has the purpose that the awardee works on its own project. However if the person works on an ERC project, stipends or scholarships may be eligible pro rata provided that:• The stipend/scholarship is paid according to the general management and accounting practices of the Host Institution, which awards the stipend to the student.• The beneficiary has a written agreement with the stipend holder defining the work to be carried out on the ERC project and the amount of the stipend to be paid (letter of engagement, contract, or other official document).• The amount can be attributed directly to the project.• The conditions of the stipend/scholarship meet the general eligibility criteria of Article II.14 and Annex II General conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary).• The stipend/scholarship is not being reimbursed by another party.

- Bonus:Bonuses have to comply with all of the following criteria to be eligible:

  • be provided by internal regulations and/or practices of the organisation (calculation method, category of employees falling under this scheme, maximum amount, etc.);
  • apply to all projects (EU and non-EU projects, national and international) of the same kind; i.e. the bonus must be given to all international (EU and non EU) or to all national projects;
  • not result in a level of remuneration inconsistent with the current market conditions for a worker of the same category/grade/experience;
  • be recorded in the accounts as personnel costs and be subject to taxes and social security charges applicable to salaries or be specifically exempt from such taxes and/or charges;
  • and, finally, bonuses can only be paid as part of the employee's gross remuneration and only be reimbursed pro-rata according to the time spent on the project (e.g. If the researcher works only part of his/her working hours on the project, then only the part of the bonus related to the remuneration charged to the project will be eligible).

The criteria (qualitative or financial targets, research activities carried out, contractor's profitability, etc.) used to calculate the amount of the bonus can be accepted provided they are of general application within the beneficiary's organisation and are objective. 

Q: Under FP7, can projects that have more than one partner institution be funded by an ERC grant?
A:

Yes, in FP7, multi-beneficiary Grant Agreements are possible.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, in case of a change of Host Institution, under which conditions does the Host institution have the right to terminate the Grant Agreement as well as the Supplementary Agreement?
A:

In FP7, if the Principal Investigator permanently moves to a third country which is not associated to FP7 and he/she is no longer in the position to continue leading an ERC funded research project, the Host Institution has the right to terminate the Supplementary Agreement with the  Principal Investigator.

The termination of the Supplementary Agreement compels the Host Institution to initiate the procedure of termination for the Grant Agreement.

The termination remains at the discretion of the ERCEA, following an evaluation of the situation on a case-by-case basis. Alternatives to the termination may be considered.

Q: Under FP7, on what grounds can ERCEA decide to terminate a Grant Agreement?
A:

In FP7, the cases where the ERCEA may terminate the Grant Agreement as per text law are outlined in Article II.35 (Single) and Article II.37 (Multi-Beneficiary) of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement.

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, what is the procedure if a Principal Investigator leaves (for whatever reason) the Host Institution?
A:

In FP7, if the Principal Investigator leaves the Host Institution, the participation of the Host Institution in the grant shall be terminated. Articles II.33 (Single) and II.35 (Multi-Beneficiary) of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement are applicable.The Host Institution is strongly advised to contact the ERCEA by sending a request to ERC-C2-AMENDMENTS@ec.europa.eu to receive a tailor made response and further guidance.

Q: Under FP7, what happens if team members do not move to the new Host Institution but remain part of the project team in case an ERC grant is transferred to a new Host Institution?
A:

In FP7, the initial Host Institution can be included in the grant as a second/additional beneficiary or, if the required conditions are met, as a third party carrying out part of the work (Special Clause 30, Article 7 of the ERC Grant Agreement).

In certain cases, a single-beneficiary grant would become a multi- beneficiary grant, in which the new Host Institution would be the principal beneficiary and the initial host an additional beneficiary.

Q: Under FP7, how are costs accounted for if the two Host Institutions have different depreciation practices in case of a change of Host Institution? For instance, what happens to equipment that has been partially financed by an ERC grant?
A:

In FP7, each Host Institution applies its own accounting/depreciation practice (See Part 2B, section 1 on art II.15 of ECGA, sub-section 1.(b), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues).                                                                                                      

In case of equipment purchased for the purposes of carrying out an ERC project, its cost can be charged as a direct cost to the project, according to the beneficiary's usual accounting practice. Depreciation is charged in each relevant periodic report. (See Part 2B, section 1 on art II.15 of ECGA, sub-section 1.(b), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues).Purchased equipment is the property of the Host Institution, irrespective if the whole piece of equipment or only part of it or was financed by the ERC grant.

If there is a change of Host Institution, the initial and the new Host Institutions will need to agree on the terms of transfer of equipment (i.e. the new Host Institution could eventually pay the book value of the equipment to the initial Host Institution).

The VAT on purchased equipment is not considered as an eligible cost for the ERC grant.

From 2012 onwards a Special Clause 40 is included in the grant agreement, in cases when equipment is charged to the ERC project budget. The principles of the Special Clause 40 are:

  • The new Host Institution is to reimburse the initial HI for the non- depreciated costs of transferred equipment.
  • This reimbursement as well as the cost of dismantling / transferring /installing the equipment can be declared by the new Host Institution under conditions of Article II.14 of the ERC GA.

The following criteria should be met in order to include Special Clause 40 in the Grant Agreement:

  • transportability of the equipment;
  • exclusive use for the ERC project;
  • at least one piece of equipment has a significant value/importance.
Q: For ERC projects under FP7, how are the funds transferred if a project is transferred to a new Host Institution and how is the budget determined for the new Host Institution?
A:

In FP7, the initial Host Institution submits a periodic financial report covering the period from the last report prepared for the

The initial Host Institution calculates and, where necessary, estimates the costs incurred until the date of transfer. The remaining funding is distributed between the remaining reporting periods, according to the project needs and taking into account the Description of Work and the usual accounting and management principles of the new Host Institution.

The ERCEA will reimburse the eligible costs of the initial Host Institution as follows:- If the limit of 90% of the maximum Union contribution to the Grant Agreement has not been reached: The full eligible amount will be reimbursed to the initial Host Institution. At the same time the Host Institution is requested to transfer the full amount of the pre-financing received (pre-financing minus the amount transferred to the guarantee fund) to the new Host Institution.- If the limit of 90% of the maximum Union contribution to the Grant Agreement has been reached: Only the costs up to 90% of the maximum Union contribution to the Grant Agreement can be reimbursed to the initial Host Institution. The initial Host Institution has to transfer the remaining balance to the new Host Institution (as per Article II.6.2 of the General Conditions tothe ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary). 

The remaining amount/balance is transferred by the initial Host Institution after the financial report has been assessed by the ERCEA. The initial Host Institution has 30 days from the date of the assessment confirmation/ balance payment by the ERCEA to transfer the EUR amount due to the new Host Institution.

The new Host Institution can claim the costs as of the effective transfer date indicated in the amendment to the Grant Agreement.

Q: Under FP7, if the Principal Investigator's salary was not included in the budget funded by the ERC grant, can it be included at a later stage if the project will be transferred to another Host Institution during its implementation?
A:

Yes, in FP7, the Principal Investigator's salary can be included in the budget of an ERC grant at a later stage. However, the maximum Union financial contribution cannot be increased and a new budget breakdown will be requested during the amendment of change of Host Institution.