COVID-19 and EU Funding
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 might have negative impact on the implementation of many EU projects and the preparation of new applications to Horizon 2020 and other calls. This webpage provides a useful overview of the main messages from the European Commission and other important information. It will be regularly updated with the latest information taken from our daily news articles.
COVID-19: Commission Publishes New FAQs on the Funding & Tenders Portal
30 March 2020 - H2020 News
The European Commission has published new answers to several FAQs related to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on current and future Horizon 2020 projects.
For this and other updates please go to their website
While we are currently awaiting clarification from the Commission on the general situation in relation to research and innovation funding, any projects which have been affected by COVID-19 containment measures should refer firstly to Article 51 of the Annotated Model Grant Agreement covering force majeure, which stipulates that beneficiaries should contact the Commission, or relevant executive agency, to discuss issues that may affect the implementation of projects. We expect further guidance to be made available on the Funding and Tenders Portal shortly. It is also worth noting that the staff of the Commission Services and Agencies are now working remotely and that there is a specific warning on the Funding and Tenders Portal that, due to this non-standard way of working, delayed responses are expected for queries submitted to the IT helpdesk.
So far, call deadlines have been extended for both Societal Challenge 6 (now 19 March 2020) and Research Infrastructures (now 14 May 2020) calls. Applicants intending to submit to calls on the Funding and Tenders portal should check the 'Topic updates' section of their specific topic to see if their deadlines have been extended. Further information on possible changes to Horizon 2020 call deadlines is expected to be available on the Funding and Tenders Portal shortly.
European Research Council
The ERC have posted a statement on their website stating that they are doing their upmost to remain fully operational during this period, that grant management activities continue as normal (although technical issues may slow some processes down) and that panel evaluations are currently being organised remotely.
Should ERC applicants or grantees have any implementation-related queries regarding coronavirus or otherwise, please contact the ERC UK National Contact Point at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
The Research Executive Agency (REA) have released a statement advising grantees and fellows to follow the travel advice provided by national authorities and to cancel or postpone all non-essential travel where possible. REA will adopt a flexible approach towards projects that fail to meet grant agreement obligations due to the COVID-19 containment measures, and may apply the rules on force majeure, or extend the duration of projects. Projects will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and grantees and fellows should speak to their project officer if they require support.
The Commission has released a statement explaining that it will apply maximum flexibility in the implementation of the programme, within the limits of the applicable legal framework. To deal with participants being unable to travel, or return home, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Erasmus+ National Agencies are now permitted to invoke force majeure clauses whereby they may accept additional costs up to a maximum grant amount. Planned activities may also be postponed by up to 12 months per project. Following the Commission's statement, the UK National Agency has published dedicated travel advice for regions affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Furthermore, the UK government has issued its own advice for UK education providers regarding staff and student overseas travel and project participants are advised to speak to their providers about arrangements. Participants under 18 are advised against all overseas education trips, while those over 18 who are due to travel should consult their education institutions on whether the travel should continue as planned. For any UK participants already overseas, they should continue to monitor the latest FCO travel advice and comply with any COVID-19 control measures put in place in their current host nation.
The Commission has released a statement saying that it understands that containment measures may have consequences for Creative Europe projects, and are adopting a position of maximum flexibility in regards to implementing the programme, while still working within the applicable legal framework. They are also in close communication with the national Creative Europe desks.
The COST Association has recommended that, from 13 March 2020 to 3 April 2020 (minimum), all physical meetings, training schools and short-term scientific missions be suspended or cancelled. They encourage participants to explore video conferencing and remote networking tools as an alternative. Any participants currently attending COST events should follow the instructions of the host country and host institution.
European Commission Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Horizon 2020 Projects
The European Commission has published answers to two Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on Horizon 2020 projects and calls for proposals:
Can the clause on “force majeure” in the Horizon 2020 grant agreement be invoked in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak?
"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."
Will the deadlines for Horizon 2020 calls be extended related to the COVID-19 outbreak?
"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.
Confirmed new deadlines for Horizon 2020 calls
The following new deadlines have now been confirmed on the Funding and Tenders Portal:
- H2020-INFRAIA-2018-2020 – Deadline moved from 17 March 2020 to 14 May 2020
- H2020-INFRAINNOV-2019-2020 – Deadline moved from 17 March 2020 to 14 May 2020
- H2020-INFRASUPP-2018-2020 – Deadline moved from 17 March 2020 to 14 May 2020
- H2020-LC-SC3-2018-2019-2020 – Deadline moved from 26 March 2020 to 21 April 2020
- H2020-NSUP-2020 – Deadline moved from 26 March 2020 to 2 April 2020
- H2020-INNOSUP-2018-2020 – Deadline moved from 2 April 2020 to 15 April 2020
- H2020-SC1-BHC-2018-2020 – Deadline moved from 7 April 2020 to 15 April 2020
- H2020-SwafS-2018-2020 – Deadline moved from 15 April 2020 to 23 April 2020
- Horizon Impact Award 2020 – Deadline moved from 2 April 2020 to 15 April 2020
All deadlines are at 17:00 CET (Brussels time) and are provided by UKRO for information only. For legally binding information on call deadlines, please, visit the Funding and Tenders Portal.
Important Announcements: Horizon 2020
Research Executive Agency
On 18 March, the Research Executive Agency (REA), responsible for the implementation of several parts of Horizon 2020, updated its pages on business continuity measures. In addition to earlier messages about extended Horizon 2020 call deadlines, new information on remote evaluation and grant management is now available. Evaluations of ongoing and upcoming proposals are being organised remotely. Furthermore, grant management activities are continuing, however REA response time may be affected due to IT constraints. Finally, beneficiaries are encouraged to follow @REA_reseach on Twitter, as decisions may change anytime due to exceptional circumstances.