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Frequently Asked Questions

 

The frequently asked questions (FAQs) are divided into six sections:

1.    General programme information

2.    Application procedure

3.    Eligible partners and partnership

4.    Project development

5.    Budget development

6.    Assessment procedure

Answers provided to the FAQs below are widely based on the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Cooperation Programme document and the application manual. Please refer to these official documents in case of doubt or contradiction.

1. General programme information

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What is the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme?

 

The Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme is a funding programme of the EU Cohesion Policy’s objective “European Territorial Cooperation” running from 2014 to 2020. It co-finances cooperation projects that strengthen regional innovation, promote low-carbon strategies, protect and valorise natural and cultural resources and improve sustainable transport. Funds of the programme come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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What is the programme area?

 

Covering an area of over one million square kilometres the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme is home to around 146 million people. Nine EU Member States cooperate in the programme, including all regions from Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, as well as eight Länder from Germany (Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, and Thüringen) and nine regions from Italy (Emilia-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Lombardia, Piemonte, Provincia Autonoma Bolzano, Provincia Autonoma Trento, Valle d’Aosta, and Veneto).

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How is the programme managed?

 

The main decision-making body of the programme is the monitoring committee, which is composed of representatives of the nine central European programme countries. The Department for EU Strategy and Economic Development of the City of Vienna is the managing authority and thus responsible for the operational management of the programme. It is supported by the joint secretariat, an international bureau which is also located in Vienna, and by the network of national contact points in the Member States.

Please consult www.interreg-central.eu/contacts for more details.

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What is the programme’s main objective?

 

The Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme’s main objective is to cooperate beyond borders in central Europe to make our cities and regions better places to live and work. Put more precisely, transnational cooperation should become the catalyst for implementing smart solutions that answer to regional challenges in the fields of innovation, low-carbon economy, environment, culture and transport.

The programme will build regional capacities following an integrated bottom-up approach involving and coordinating relevant actors from all governance levels. In doing so, it will coordinate with other efforts in the regions including national and regional programmes, macro-regional strategies, the Horizon 2020 programme, the LIFE programme or the European Investment Bank.

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What is the overall programme budget?

 

The total programme budget over the next seven years is 246 million Euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 231 million Euros out of this will be made available for financing transnational cooperation projects.

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How much funding is available for each priority?

The available funding is spread across the four priorities until 2020 as follows:

o    Innovation and knowledge development: around EUR 69 million

o    Low carbon cities and regions: around EUR 44 million

o    Environmental and cultural resources: around EUR 89 million

o    Sustainable transport: around EUR 30 million

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Which ERDF co-financing rates apply?

 

 

Location of partner

Countries

ERDF co-financing

Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE programme area

CZ, HR, HU, PL, SI, SK

Up to 85%

AT, DE, IT

Up to 80%

Outside Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE programme area but inside the EU

 

Up to 80%

Outside the EU

 

·   No ERDF co-financing

·   Participation with own funds

 

 

 

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Who can give additional information about the programme?

 

On national levels, general guidance is provided by the network of national contact points. It functions as a first point of contact for applicants seeking individual guidance.

On transnational level, the joint secretariat offers individual consultations on project ideas and partnerships in both steps of the application procedure.

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Who do I contact when seeking individual consultation on my project idea?

 

Individual consultations are available to lead applicants after filling in the project idea form. They can take the shape of meetings on the premises of the joint secretariat, or can be organised as phone or video conference meetings. To arrange an individual consultation, please send an email to helpdesk(at)interreg-central.eu together with a filled-in project idea template and proposed date(s) of your availability. For questions refer to Ms Stuetz at +43 1 8908 088 2403.

2. Application procedure

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How will the first call be organised?

 

The first call for proposals will be organised in a competitive two-step procedure. Proposals will have to be submitted in both steps via a web-based tool, the electronic monitoring system (eMS). The first call for proposals is open to all programme priorities and specific objectives. Within these two competitive steps of the first call for proposals one application form document will have to be filled in, whereas minimum requirements of continuity between the light application form (to be submitted in step 1) and the full application form (step 2) have to be observed.

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What is the timeline for the first call? When will the approved projects be able to start?

 

Step 1 of the first call for proposals opens on 12 February 2015 and closes on 13 April 2015. Depending on the number of applications received, step 2 is expected to open between July and September 2015 and it will stay open for around 60 calendar days. Approved projects are expected to start in early 2016.

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How much funding will be allocated to the first call for proposals?

 

Funds of up to EUR 80 million ERDF will be dedicated in the first call for proposals.

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What is the difference between step 1 and step 2 of the application procedure?

 

In the first step of the application procedure applicants have to submit a light application form, in which they will have to provide an outline of their project proposal. The light application form goes beyond a mere expression of interest: applicants will have to present a comprehensive picture of the project key characteristics (project focus, partnership, budget). The light application form is an extract of the full application form leaving out details on the work plan and budget. Its submission is to be accompanied by a scanned signed lead applicant declaration.

Following the assessment of step 1 applications, applications pre-selected according to quality requirements will be invited to submit a full proposal in step 2. Minimum requirement of continuity between the light application form (step 1) and the full application form (step 2) will have to be observed.

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How can an application be submitted?

 

Applicants have to complete and submit the light and – in step 2 - the full application forms via the electronic monitoring system (eMS) which can be accessed at https://ems.interreg-central.eu/.

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Who and how should register with the online submission system?

 

To use the online submission system, the lead applicant must register and create a set of credentials. To register, applicants have to connect to the system at https://ems.interreg-central.eu/ and click on “Register”. The person registering should preferably be the contact person of the lead applicant institution. Please note that automatically generated emails (e.g. on successful submission) will be sent to this email address only. 

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Who shall create a project application through the online submission system?

 

The person creating the application must represent (or be delegated by) the lead applicant institution. This person can then add new registered users to the application (namely the partners) and, after completing the application form, will finally submit it.

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Can more users work in parallel on one application form?

 

To a certain extent, it is possible for different users to simultaneously work on one application form. However, when working in parallel, users have to make sure though that they are not working in the same section or sub-section (in case that the section is divided).

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What is automatically checked by the online submission system?

 

Once the application form is at an advanced stage - but well before its final submission - it is recommended to perform the automatic check on completeness and correctness of data entered. This check is done by pressing the “Check Saved Project” button. The system then performs several automatic checks of the formal requirements (e.g. completeness of information, minimum number of partners, etc.). If all automatic checks are successfully passed, the message “Success” will be displayed. In case of automatic checks showing deficiencies, the system indicates these in an error message and the partnership can then amend the application form accordingly.

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What is the index number in the lead applicant declaration?

 

The index number is required when filling-in the lead applicant declaration (step 1). It is the number that is automatically generated by the electronic monitoring system (eMS) when creating a new application.

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Where do I find (technical) help when filling in the online application form?

 

The helpdesk provides basic information on the call procedure and can be reached by phone at +43 1 8908088-2403 or per e-mail at helpdesk(at)interreg-central.eu.

In addition, a technical helpdesk can be reached during office hours for any questions or problems related to the electronic monitoring system (eMS). Please contact the eMS technical helpdesk at +43 1 8908088-2405 or send an email to helpdesk(at)interreg-central.eu.   

For further support measures offered by the programme please refer to the application manual.

3. Eligible partners and partnership

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What is the minimum requirement for a partnership?

 

When forming a project partnership, the following minimum requirements have to be met:

o    at least three financing partners

o    from at least three countries

o    with at least two of the partners located in the programme area

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Who can be a project partner?

 

The following institutions can participate in a project:

o    National, regional and local public bodies (including EGTCs)

o    Private institutions, including private companies, having legal personality;

o    International organisations acting under the national law of any Member State participating in the programme or, with restrictions, under international law (see part B, chapter II.1.2 of the application manual)

Private institutions inlucing private companies having legal personality can participate in projects in all programme priorities. Privates applying as lead partners must meet specific financial capacity requirements, as further defined in part B of the application manual.

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Can partners outside the programme area but within EU participate in a project?

 

In exceptional and duly justified cases also organisations from outside the programme area (but inside the European Union) can become project partners and receive co-financing. Their participation needs to bring clear added value and expertise to the implementation of a project and has to benefit the programme area. Funds allocated to partners outside the programme area cannot exceed 20 percent of the total ERDF contribution to a project.

Partners from non-EU countries can participate in a project but will not receive any ERDF funds from the programme. They could act as associated partners.

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What are assimilated partners?

 

German and Italian institutions located outside the programme area can act as assimilated partners in the projects if they:

o    are competent in their scope of action for certain parts of the eligible area (e.g. ministries, national agencies, national research bodies etc.)

o    fulfil the basic partner requirements

o    carry out activities which are for the benefit of the regions in the programme area

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What are associated partner?

 

Institutions willing to be involved in a project without financially contributing to it are considered as associated partners. Such associated partners do not account for the fulfilment of the partnership requirements.

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What is the lead partner principle and who can act as lead partner?

 

The “lead partner principle” means that each partnership appoints one organisation to act as lead partner. The lead partner takes full financial and legal responsibility for the implementation of the entire project.

The following institutions can act as lead partners if located in the programme area:

o    public bodies

o    private institutions

o    international organisations acting under national law

 

 

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What requirements apply to private lead applicants?

 

Private lead applicants, in order to be eligible, will have to demonstrate that they have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the project implementation period and to participate in its funding. The programme will check the financial capacity of private lead applicants in step 2 of the application procedure by applying the criteria explained in part D, chapter V.2 of the application manual. To this purpose, when submitting the full application form (step 2) private lead applicants have to provide additional documents (listed in part B, chapter IV.2.6).

In case a project with a private lead partner is selected for funding, the lead partner will additionally be asked to provide, before the signature of the subsidy contract, proof that a valid financial guarantee is in force, issued by a primary financial institution (bank, insurance).

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What is the recommended size of a partnership?

 

Experience shows that a relevant and manageable partnership should not exceed 12 partners. However, larger partnerships are possible if justified by the project scope.

4. Project development

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What is the recommended project duration?

 

The recommended project duration is 30 to 36 months. However, if justified by the project scope and planned activities a longer implementation period of up to 48 months can be accepted.

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What is the project intervention logic and why is it an important starting point?

 

The project intervention logic defines the project objectives and expected results. It is the most important step when starting to develop a project proposal. Project objectives and results should be as specific as possible and clearly express what kind of changes the project intends to bring about in relation to the initial situation.

The project intervention logic has to be coherent and shall provide the necessary information on how the project contributes to the selected programme priority axis, in particular in relation to the targeted programme specific objective and its expected result.

 

To find out more about how to develop a project intervention logic check part D II.3.2 of the application manual.

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What types of activities should a project cover?

 

The Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme supports three types of activities:

o    Policy support

o    Practical implementation

o    Capitalisation

Practical implementation activities can be explorative and/or have a pilot character. Projects can combine policy support and practical implementation activities or set a specific focus on only one of both. Projects should in all circumstances foresee capitalisation activities that make results available to target audiences so that they can be rolled out or mainstreamed.

Read more about types of activities in part B, chapter II.3 of the application manual.

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How many programme priorities or specific objectives can a project address?

 

Each project can address only one programme priority and within this one programme specific objective. The online application form will not allow for choosing multiple priorities and specific objectives.

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What types of outputs should a project deliver?

 

The Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme has pre-defined four categories of project outputs, which focus on policy support and implementation activities:

o    Strategy and action plan development and/or implementation

o    Tool development and/or implementation

o    Pilot actions

o    Trainings

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What role should communication play in a project?

 

Communication is about raising the awareness and informing target audiences as well as changing their attitudes and behaviour about a project and its activities. Such kind of communication plays a strategic role in successful projects. It will help projects to achieve the change they aim for with their thematic activities. When developing project communication objectives it is important to bear in mind that these have to be intrinsically linked to the specific project objectives defined earlier on.

5. Budget development

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What is the recommended project budget size?

 

It is recommended that CENTRAL EUROPE projects should have a total budget ranging from 1 to 5 million EUR. In exceptional cases, smaller or larger projects can be supported.

In any case, partners should ensure that the financial size of the project truly reflects the activities foreseen in the work plan and that it is based on the principles of sound financial management.

Category: Budget development
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What is national co-financing and how does it have to be proven?

 

The share of expenditure not covered by ERDF shall be guaranteed by means of national co-financing, which can be provided as follows:

o    Public national co-financing is public funding at national, regional or local level, obtained via specific co-financing schemes set up by the Member States or provided directly with own funds by the partners having a public status. Co-financing of international organisations falls under this category.

o    Private national co-financing refers to the amount of own funds provided as match funding by private institutions.

Category: Budget development
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Which rules of eligibility have to be observed?

 

Three levels of rules apply to the eligibility of expenditure in the framework of the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme:

o    EU rules: As the programme is co-financed by the ERDF, all general rules concerning the eligibility of expenditure regarding structural funds are applicable.

o    Programme rules: Additional rules on eligibility of expenditure for the cooperation programme, as outlined in the control and audit section in the implementation manual (expected to be published in summer 2015).

o    National (including institutional) eligibility rules: such rules apply for matters not covered by eligibility rules laid down in EU and programme rules.

Category: Budget development
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What is the timeframe for eligibility of expenditure?

 

Expenditure is eligible in following periods:

o    Costs for the implementation of an approved project are eligible from its start date until its end date as set in the subsidy contract. At the earliest, costs are eligible as from the day after the submission of the full application form, provided that this day is the official start date of the project as indicated in the application form. On this basis, partners may decide at their own risk to start the implementation of the project even before the monitoring committee decision for funding.

o    Costs for project closure (e.g. preparation of the last progress report, final report and costs for control of expenditure) are eligible, and must be paid until the deadline for submission of the final report (i.e. three months after project end).

Category: Budget development
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Will preparation costs be reimbursed?

 

Approved projects which signed the subsidy contract with the managing authority can receive a lump-sum reimbursing their preparation costs according to the following principles:

o    The lump sum amounts to EUR 15.000 of total eligible expenditure per project

o    The lump sum covers all costs linked to the preparation and/or contracting

o    The co-financing rate of the preparation costs will be in line with the co-financing rate applicable to the partner to which the lump sum is allocated. Accordingly, the lump sum of ERDF reimbursement payable to the concerned partners will be automatically calculated by the electronic monitoring system (eMS)

Category: Budget development
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What budget lines will apply for projects?

 

Project budgets must be structured according to the following budget lines that have been simplified and harmonised with other Interreg programmes:

o    Staff costs

o    Office and administrative expenditure

o    Travel and accommodation costs

o    External expertise and services costs

o    Equipment expenditure

o    Infrastructure and works expenditure

Category: Budget development
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Will shared costs be allowed?

 

The practice of splitting cost items among project partners (i.e. sharing of common costs) is not allowed. Accordingly, the budget allocated to a project partner shall fully reflect the activities actually implemented by that partner.

Category: Budget development
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Do rules on competition and public procurement have to be respected?

 

Acquisitions by means of public contracts of works, supplies or services from economic operators are subject to rules on public procurement. These rules aim at securing transparent and fair conditions for competing on the common market and have to be respected by beneficiaries.

Rules differ depending on the kind of goods and/or services to be purchased, as well as the value of the purchase and the legal status of the awarding institution. They are set at the following levels:

o    EU rules

o    National rules

o    Programme rules

Please note that with public procurement, differing from the hierarchy of rules concerning the eligibility of expenditure, all applicable EU and national rules are on a higher hierarchical level than the rules set by the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme.

Category: Budget development
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Do public procurement rules apply also to private partners?

 

Institutions not falling under the scope of application of the public procurement laws (e.g. private companies for most procurement activities as defined under the “classical directive” (ec.europa.eu/internal_market/publicprocurement/index_en.htm) are exempt from the application of public procurement laws.

Notwithstanding this, such institutions have to observe the basic principles on which the procurement norms are based and ensure the best value for money or, if appropriate, the lowest price. Please check national rules and guidelines in this respect (if available). The Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme has developed specific procedures to be followed by such institutions when procuring works, supplies or services. These are laid down in the control and audit section of the programme implementation manual (expected to be published in summer 2015).

Category: Budget development

6. Assessment procedure

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How are applications assessed in step 1?

 

In step 1 formal and administrative requirements will be checked, part of them automatically by the online submission system. These are:

o    Submission of the proposal before the deadline set in the call announcement

o    Submission of the application form completed in all its parts and in English language

o    Respect of the minimum partnership requirements (i.e. at least three financing partners from at least three countries, being at least two of the partners located in CENTRAL EUROPE regions)

o    Respect of the lead applicant requirements (i.e. lead applicants cannot be located in regions outside the programme area, with the exception of assimilated partners, international organisations acting under international law cannot be lead applicants)

o    Submission of signed lead applicant declarations filled-in in the template provided by the programme without any modification

The quality assessment of the light application forms focuses then on relevance and the partnership. Out of the full set of assessment criteria, only strategic assessment criteria are applied in step 1 as further detailed in the application manual.

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When will be the applicants informed about the assessment results of step 1?

 

After the finalisation of the assessment, lead applicants will be notified about the outcome. In case of rejected applications, information to lead applicants will include details on the reasons for rejection.

The decision on applications to be invited to step 2 of the call will be taken by the monitoring committee of the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme on the basis of the technical quality assessment. Depending on the number of applications received, the result of the assessment of step 1 will be available between July and September 2015, shortly before the opening of step 2 of the application process.

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How are applications assessed in step 2?

 

As in step 1, formal and administrative requirements have to be met with submission. For step 2 the following requirements apply:

o    Submission of the proposal before the deadline set in the invitation

o    Submission of the application form completed in all its parts and in English language

o    Respect of the compulsory continuity requirements between step 1 and 2 of the call (i.e. project focus, partnership and budget)

o    Submission of the lead applicant and all partner declarations signed and filled in in the template provided by the programme without any modification

o    In case of private lead applicant, availability of all other supporting documents

Proposals failing in any of the above requirements will be regarded as non-eligible and will not be further processed.

In case of private lead applicants, their financial capacity is checked by the programme. In case the private lead applicant does not meet the necessary financial capacity criteria the proposal will be regarded as non-eligible and will not be further processed even if pre-selected in step 1 of the application procedure. Please note that the programme does not perform a financial capacity check of private lead applicants in step 1 of the call, therefore private lead applicants are strongly recommended to check their ability to fulfil the financial capacity criteria already when applying in step 1.

Proposals successfully passing the formal and administrative checks as well as, where applicable, the financial capacity check, are further processed with a legal status check, an analysis of state aid relevance and the quality assessment. In step 2, the quality assessment will be performed against the full set of strategic and operational criteria described in part D, chapter V.2 of the application manual.