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A Principal Investigator should not validate his/her own timesheet because the person validating a timesheet should have an independent view of the work of the Principal Investigator within the Host Institution (e.g. the Principal Investigator's hierarchical superior).
Under FP7, the Principal Investigator is not obliged to spend an equal amount of his/her working time each year on the project, as long as the distribution is in line with achieving the scientific objectives of the project. However, ERCEA encourages an even distribution throughout the duration of the project. Any special time arrangements need to be agreed with the ERCEA beforehand.Timesheets or other means of proof must reflect the actual productive hours spent on the project.
In FP7, the Host Institution cannot charge more costs than the reimbursement for the time the Principal Investigator actually worked on the project, but it can charge less.
In such a case, timesheets should record the actual hours worked on the project for auditing purposes but it should be made clear in the breakdown table or in the explanatory text of the financial report that total actual hours worked were X but the charged hours are only X-Y.The hourly rate should be calculated based on the total hours (and not only based on the charged hours).
In brief, time charged to the project can always be less (but not more) than indicated in the timesheets.
Although in principle Principal Investigators do not need to keep time records if their salary is not charged to an FP7 ERC grant, they should be able to provide evidence of their compliance with the time commitment requirements provided in the corresponding Work Programme (see ERC Work Programmes here).
In FP7, costs of actual hours worked should be substantiated by a time recording system or by alternative evidence providing the same level of reliability as to the reality, accuracy and completeness of the information provided, to allow auditors to verify the financial reports.If a person works 100% on a project and has a contract to this effect, in the absence of timesheets, other appropriate and sufficient alternative evidence to support the declared work arrangements should be provided, provided that it is compliant with the usual practices of the beneficiary.
For FP7 projects, the time necessary to be spent in the office by the staff recruited for the project depends on the rules of the Host Institution and the applicable national legislation. However, according to Article II.15.1 of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreements (Single and Multi-Beneficiary), only the costs of the actual hours worked by the persons directly carrying out work under the project can be charged.
In principle, it is expected from the host institutions to have the human resources necessary for the action at the start of the project.However, for ERC grants in FP7, recruitment costs may be eligible as direct costs.
To be eligible, expenses linked to the recruitment of project staff have to be in line with the general management practice and rules of the Host Institution/beneficiary and comply with the eligibility criteria of Article II.14 of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary), being directly traceable to the ERC project.
In FP7, payments for retired researchers can be charged to the project if they are in line with applicable national law and practice, as well as with the specific rules applicable to and in the Host Institution.
The payments should be made via the Human Resources Payroll system.
For ERC projects under FP7, the number of hours that makes a person-month can vary between different Host Institutions. Beneficiaries must calculate their specific productive hours according to the general practice in the Host Institution.
In case different categories of personnel have different working conditions, individual productive hours may be calculated. For the calculation method and examples, please refer to Part 2 B, section 1 on art.II.15 of ECGA, sub-section 1.(a), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues.The benchmark is 1680 hours based on 210 workable days and a 8 hour working day (Guide to financial issues Part 2B, section 1 on article II.15 of ECGA, sub-section 1.(a.2), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues).
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.
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:
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.
Yes, in FP7, multi-beneficiary Grant Agreements are possible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The following criteria should be met in order to include Special Clause 40 in the Grant Agreement:
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.
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.
In FP7, there is no template provided. It is up to the Host Institutions to agree on appropriate private law arrangements. However, the ERCEA will give advice based on its experience with other cases if requested.
In FP7, portability means the transfer of the entire project or part of it to a new beneficiary. Like the initial Host Institution, the new Host Institution must comply with the requirements of the Rules for participation and be established under national law in an EU Member State or Associated Country. Exceptions from the establishment requirement apply for the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, for International European interest organisations and for entities created under EU law.
A transfer of the project may happen before signature of the grant agreement or during the implementation of the project.
The project officer should be informed as indicated in the invitation letter. The change of Host Institution must be formally accepted by the ERCEA.
The new and the initial Host Institution will need to agree on the transfer of the project and all the related aspects so that the project can be pursued. The total Union contribution will not be adjusted.The Principal Investigator has to explain the nature and reasons for the move of the project to another institution, as well as the added value of the move to the scientific output of the project or their career.
The initial Host Institution must introduce the request for the amendment of the Grant Agreement by the ERCEA (Articles II.2.d).vii) and II.34.3 (Single Beneficiary) and II.2.3.vii) and II.36.3 (Multi-Beneficiary) of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement).
Once the amendment has been approved, the initial Host Institution must transfer documentation/ foreground and the part of the pre-financing received for the grant, depending on the case, to the new beneficiary.
In FP7, the need for an amendment of the Grant Agreement is assessed by the ERCEA on a case-by-case basis.
All changes of the Principal Investigator time commitment on the project or/and in total working time spent in an EU Member State or Associated country have to be previously agreed with the ERC Executive Agency. Otherwise there may be a risk for some costs to be declared ineligible or even the grant to be terminated.
For instance, for Synergy Grants from the Ideas Work Programme 2012 onwards:
Principal Investigators should devote at least 30% of their working time to the ERC-funded project, while spending at least 50% of their total working time in an EU Member State or Associated Country.
In FP7 ERC projects, the request can be grouped per grant type, but only if the former authorised representative, the new authorised representative and the contact person are the same in all the projects of the amendment request.
Further advice can be provided via the ERCEA amendments functional mailbox (ERC-C2-AMENDMENTS@ec.europa.eu ).
In the context of FP7 and according to the Ideas Work Programme 2013, a Principal Investigator may hold only one frontier research grant from the ERC at any one time. In particular, a PI may not submit a proposal for another ERC frontier research grant, unless the existing project ends no more than two years after the call deadline.
A request for a reduction of the duration of the project entails the following consequences:
Nevertheless, it is possible that an ERC grantee (Starting/Consolidator/Advanced/Synergy Grant) also holds a Proof of Concept Grant.
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).
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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:
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 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.
There are three kind of receipts in the ERC financial reporting under FP7 (Article II.17 of the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement (Single and Multi-Beneficiary) and Part 2B, section 1 on Art II.17 of ECGA, in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues):
Financial transfers or their equivalent from third parties to the beneficiary;
Contributions in kind, free of charge from third parties, if they are specifically to be used for this ERC-project only;
Income generated by the project, excluding the cases when it was generated from the use of foreground.
Receipts are to be taken into account at the moment of the final payment (see Part 2B, section 1, on Article II.17 of ECGA (specific mention of Article II.18.3), in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues).
Beneficiaries must take into account and declare receipts which are established (revenue that has been collected and entered in the accounts), generated or confirmed (revenue that has not yet been collected, but which has been generated or for which the beneficiary has a commitment or written confirmation) at the time of the submission of the last financial statement.
In FP7, the financial reports shall be submitted by the Host Institution in consultation with the Principal Investigator. (See the General Conditions to the ERC Grant Agreement, Article II.3.1.b for Single, or Article II.3.bis.1.b for Multi-Beneficiary Grant Agreements.)The financial reports provide the following parts:
- a declaration of honour;
- a description to which extent the objectives have been reached;
- information about how the project has been managed during the reporting period; and
- a chapter on the description of the scientific implementation of the project.
The financial reports also contain several annexes:
- Financial Statements;
- a breakdown of direct costs table; and
- a Budget follow-up table.
Depending on the amount of the costs claimed (cumulated amounts equal or superior to €375.000) the report also includes a Certificate on Financial Statements.In Proof of Concept Grants, given the shorter length, the project's reports will normally be required only once, at the end of the project. This report will combine the technical and financial aspects in one single document.
Article 4 of the ERC Grant Agreement defines the reporting periods and the language that has to be used for the reports.For submission of the Financial Statements (Form C) of the financial report, it must be distinguished whether grants that do have electronic submission and those that do not have electronic submission:- Grants with electronic submission (those signed from 01/01/2013 onwards plus those which were signed before and that opted-in through an amendment): the Financial Statements need to be introduced via the FORCE application only.- Grants without electronic submission: the Financial Statements need to be introduced via the FORCE application in addition to the paper file that has to be provided to the ERCEA.
In FP7, the scientific reports are analysed by the ERC scientific department, while the financial reports are analysed by the ERC grant management department, in collaboration with the scientific department.The PI receives an advance notice letter at the end of the reporting period to upload the scientific report and publications with links to the Funding & Tenders Portal; a visual guide on how to create and submit scientific report; and the open access policy.There are four possible consequences resulting from the verification of the mid-term scientific reports by the ERCEA:(i) If the scientific report has been approved without conditions:At the end of the next financial reporting period, the payment will not need any additional scientific requirements (unless new scientific issues arise in the meantime).(ii) If the scientific report has been approved under certain conditions:At the end of the next financial reporting period, the payment will be subject to the fulfilment of the suggested scientific recommendations.(iii) If the scientific report has been rejected (e.g. because of missing publications, or inconsistencies with the current Description of Work) and a revised version of the report had been requested:The payment will be suspended at the forthcoming reporting period, until a satisfactory revised scientific report is submitted and approved by the scientific department.
(iv) If the scientific report has been rejected:The ERCEA may start the procedure for termination of the Grant Agreement. Final reports submitted within the framework of the termination will be due 45 days after the decision on termination became effective.
When evaluating the scientific reports, the ERCEA Scientific Department may require a review by additional experts. In these cases, the time to evaluate the reports and disburse payments can be suspended till the review is satisfactory.
In FP7, the "Description of Work" should mention that the project team will use the respective facility without claiming any costs.
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
The box "Open access has been or will be provided?" should be ticked if:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
If the Grant Agreement contains Special Clause 39 ERC, posting the publications on the project's webpage or the departments' website is not enough. The Special Clause clearly states that publications must be immediately deposited in a repository for scientific publications and that best efforts must be made to provide open access through this repository. The ERC Open Access Guidelines also state that publications should be deposited in a suitable repository immediately upon publication, with open access being provided as soon as possible.
Special Clause 39 ERC refers to scientific publications related to foreground from the project. Reviews typically provide an overview of developments in a specific area, but do not present the author's own new research results that have not been published elsewhere already. Therefore, reviews will typically not be covered by the Special Clause. However, ERC grantees are encouraged to provide open access also to any reviews that they may publish.
This is explained in detail in section 7.3 of the Guide to Intellectual Property Rules for FP7 projects (e.g. obtaining information about the journal policy on open access, informing the publisher about EU Commission policy on open access; requesting an amending clause to contracts to include open access, consider submitting to another journal, etc.). If it is not possible to deposit the publication in a repository and give it open access within six months, due to longer embargo periods imposed by the publisher, but it is possible to provide immediate open access by paying an article processing charge (APC) to the publisher, grantees are strongly encouraged to choose this second option.