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Q: For ERC projects under FP7, if for any substantive and justified reason the effective start date of the project is delayed from the start date specified in the grant agreement, does it require an amendment?
A:

In FP7, unless a fixed start date is indicated in the grant agreement, ERC frontier research grants are required to start on the first day of the month following the signature of the grant agreement by the ERCEA.
Exceptionally, for duly justified reasons and with the acceptance of the ERCEA, the project start date can be delayed (see the FP7 Guide for Amendments and the ERC Guidance Notes for preparing the Grant Agreement).  Such a delay might require an amendment.
If a delay in the start date is accepted without an amendment, such delay is expected to be caught up during the implementation of the project (no automatic extension).

Q: For ERC projects under FP7, are changes/amendments possible and how can they be implemented in the Grant Agreement?
A:

In FP7, changes in an ERC project can be requested via direct communication with the Project Officer or sending an email to ERC-C2@ec.europa.eu
For questions related specifically to amendments, you can use: erc-c2-amendments@ec.europa.eu. An amendment officer will be attributed to your request and you will receive a template for the request letter and a list of supporting documents that are needed.Changes to the original proposal can be introduced both:
1/ during the preparation phase of the Grant Agreement; and2/ during the implementation of the action.
Both types of changes require the ERC Scientific Department's approval.If the change comes after the signature of the grant agreement, usually an amendment is required (cases of amendments are listed in the FP7 Guide for Amendments).
An amendment of the Description of Work (Annex I) is always needed for:
A change in the scientific work or a change in the project's objectives;
The removal/addition of tasks, or substantial changes in the distribution of the work between beneficiaries (in case of multi-beneficiary grants);
The introduction/ removal of third parties and/or subcontractor (exception for subcontracting of minor tasks);
The addition or removal of a beneficiary (including change of host institution).
Other changes require only an information letter, such as requests for sabbatical leaves or a change of authorised representative of the Host Institution. With regard to this last case, a change in the Participant Portal (NEF) is no longer required from the beneficiary; this is done directly by the ERC Amendment Officer. The specimen signature of the new authorised representatives will be included in the template for the request.
Other changes do not require any amendment, such as changes in budget breakdown in between costs categories or in between reporting periods, etc. The Project Officer should be informed.
When in doubt whether an amendment is needed, beneficiaries are encouraged to contact the ERCEA via the amendments functional mailbox: ERC-C2-AMENDMENTS@ec.europa.eu.  
General information about amendments can be found in the Amendment Guide for FP7 Grant Agreements and in the Guide for ERC Grant Holders.    

Q: Under FP7, what is the best practice for communication between the Host Institution, the Principal Investigator and the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA)?
A:

In the context of FP7, all official letters have to be sent to the address defined in Article 8 of the Grant Agreement.During the project implementation phase, the ERCEA can be contacted for any kind of questions related to the project through the functional mailbox ERC-C2@ec.europa.eu , as mentioned in Article 8 of the Grant Agreement.
For financial reports, in case the host institution does not have electronic signature agreement, the financial statement (form C) and the Certificate on Financial Statements (CFS) should be also submitted in paper version.
For questions relating to possible changes to the ERC Grant Agreement or amendments, please contact the ERCEA amendments functional mailbox:ERC-C2-AMENDMENTS@ec.europa.eu
For communicating EU Research & Innovation, a guide for project participants is destined to FP7 funded projects to help to better communicate your projects and results.
For any other questions, the beneficiaries can also contact the ERCEA directly by email through the functional mailbox, in particular for questions related to the management of the grants.
A specific helpdesk exists for question from PIs only:ERCEA-C2-PI-HELPDESK@ec.europa.eu

Q: For FP7 ERC Project what does a Principal Investigator (PI) need to indicate in the publications section in the scientific report?
A:

The box "Open access has been or will be provided?" should be ticked if: 
The publisher has provided immediate open access, possibly after payment of an article processing charge (APC); or
The publication has been deposited in a repository for scientific publications and open access has been or will be provided through this repository either immediately or after the elapse of an embargo period.
If the Grant Agreement contains Special Clause 39 ERC, then in principle the box should be ticked for all publications related to foreground from the project. In this case, if for some reason open access has not been provided to a publication related to foreground from the project and will not be provided within six months from publication, a justification must be included in the report, explaining the best efforts that have been made to provide open access to the publication, in line with the details explained in section 7.3 of the Guide to Intellectual Property Rules for FP7 projects.

Q: In FP7, is it possible to extend an ERC Grant without receiving further funds?
A:

In the context of FP7 and in exceptional cases, the ERCEA may prolong the duration of a Project.An extension may be granted on well-justified scientific grounds and provided that a high scientific values has been demonstrated in the project implementation or if the request was caused by events that were not reasonably foreseeable at the point of signing the grant. The extension may also be granted in cases of force majeure, health reasons of the Principal Investigator (PI) and parental/maternity leave of the PI in line with the social legislation applicable in the host country and host institution of the PI. Late starts or delays of administrative nature (e.g. purchase of equipment, recruitment of staff) are expected to be caught up during the life time of the project.
Only one extension may be accepted for one project. The ERC grant agreements may be extended by a maximum of 12 months, except for Proof of Concept (PoC) grants for which the maximum is 6 months.
These conditions do not apply in the above-mentioned cases relating to maternity and parental leaves, health reasons or force majeure.A request for extension can be submitted to the ERCEA only after the approval of the mid-term scientific report and no later than 6 months before the end of the project. In principle, retro-active demands for extension will not be accepted.
To extend a project, the ERC Grant Agreement has to be amended (Articles II. 33 (Single Beneficiary) and II.35 (Multi-Beneficiary) of the General Conditions to ERC Grant Agreement).

Q: Are changes to ERC projects possible? How are these changes implemented in the Grant Agreement?
A:

Changes to the original proposal can be introduced during the preparation phase of the Grant Agreement and during the implementation of the action. Both types of changes require the ERC Scientific Department's approval. If the change intervenes after the signature of the grant agreement usually an amendment is required (cases of amendments are listed in the FP7 Guide for Amendments).
An amendment of the Description of Work (Annex I) is always needed for: a change in the scientific work or a change in the project's objectives; the removal/addition of tasks or substantial changes in the distribution of the work between beneficiaries (in case of multi-beneficiary grants); the introduction/removal of third parties and/or subcontractor (except for subcontracting of minor tasks); and the addition or removal of a beneficiary (including change of host institution).
Other changes require only an information letter, such as requests for sabbatical leaves and a change of authorised representative of the Host Institution.
Some changes do not require any amendment, such as changes in budget breakdown in between costs categories or in between reporting periods, etc. In this case the Project Officer should be informed.
When in doubt whether an amendment is needed, beneficiaries are encouraged to contact the ERCEA via the amendments functional mailbox: ERC-C2-AMENDMENTS@ec.europa.eu.

Q: Is it possible to extend an ERC Grant under FP7 without receiving further funds?
A:

In exceptional cases, the ERCEA may prolong the duration of a project. An extension may be granted in the following situations:
(1) on well-justified scientific grounds and provided that a high scientific value has been demonstrated in the project implementation;
(2) if the request was caused by events that were not reasonably foreseeable at the point of signing the grant;
(3) in cases of force majeure;
(4) for health reasons of the principal investigator (PI);
(5) in case of parental/maternity leave of the PI in line with the social legislation applicable in the Host country and Host Institution of the PI.
However, late starts or delays of administrative nature (e.g. purchase of equipment, recruitment of staff) are expected to be caught up during the life time of the project.
Only one extension may be accepted for one project. The ERC grant agreements may be extended by a maximum of 12 months, except for 'Proof of Concept' (PoC) grants for which the maximum extension is 6 months. These time limits do not apply in the above-mentioned cases relating to force majeure, health reasons and parental/maternity leave.
A request for extension can be submitted to the ERCEA only after the approval of the mid-term scientific report and no later than 6 months before the end of the project. Retro-active demands for extension will not be accepted. To extend a project, the ERC Grant Agreement has to be amended.
See Article II. 33 and II.35 of the General Conditions to FP7 ERC Grant Agreement.

Q: For ERC projects, are open access fees for monographs eligible costs?
A:

Yes, these costs are eligible if they are incurred during the lifetime of the project and provided that they are in line with the requirements for direct costs as listed in Article II.14 of the General Conditions of the ERC Grant Agreement Single and Multi-Beneficiary.

Q: For ERC projects, in which cases the question box in the scientific report, with refers to whether a publication has been or will be made open access, should be ticked?
A:

The box "Open access has been or will be provided?" should be ticked if: (1) the publisher has provided immediate open access, possibly after payment of an author publication charge (APC); or (2) the publication has been deposited in a repository for scientific publications and open access has been or will be provided through this repository either immediately or after the elapse of an embargo period.
If the Grant Agreement contains a Special Clause 39 ERC, then in principle the box should be ticked for all publications related to foreground from the project. In this case, if for some reason open access has not been provided to a publication related to foreground from the project and will not be provided within six months from publication, a justification must be included in the report, explaining the best efforts that have been made to provide open access to the publication, in line with the details explained in section 7.3 of the Guide to Intellectual Property Rules for FP7 projects.

Q: For ERC projects, what do the terms 'green open access' and 'gold open access' mean in the context of research publications?
A:

For ERC projects, there are two main routes towards open access to publications, both equally valid:
(1) Self-archiving (also referred to as 'green open access') means that the published article, monograph, book chapter etc. or the final peer-reviewed manuscript is archived (deposited) by the author - or a representative - in an online repository before, alongside or after its publication. Repository software usually allows authors to delay access to the article (embargo period);
(2) Open access publishing (also referred to as 'gold open access') means that open access to an article, monograph, book chapter etc. is provided by the publisher immediately upon publication. This route towards open access often (but not always) requires the payment of an open access fee to the publisher to compensate for lost income from subscriptions or from the purchase of the monograph/book. In the case of journal articles, these fees are usually called APCs (article processing charges).