Commission acts to simplify access to European Structural and Investment Funds


The Europen Commission has announced its intention to create a High Level Group on simplification. It aims to reduce the administrative burden for beneficiaries to access the five European Structural and Investment Funds– the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

The group is to independently assess and monitor the uptake of simplification opportunities to access and use European Structural and Investment Funds by the Member States, thus contributing to the Commission’s efforts for Better Regulation.

Former Commission Vice President Siim Kallas will chair this group which is planned to run for three years. The members of the group should include the best available experts in the field. Special focus is to be put on five priorities:

1. Facilitating access to funding for SMEs

2. Tackling the “Goldplating” practice, where extra requirements or administrative hurdles are addedat national or regional level, including in the process of selecting projects.

3. Using simpler ways to reimburse costs.

4. Increasing the use of online procedures, such as “e-cohesion” in Cohesion Policy funded projects

5. Analysing how projects initiated and managed by local communities are implemented (community-led local development)

The new regulations offer a broad range of opportunities for simplification and reduced administrative burden. These include a set of common rules for all European Structural and investment Funds.

This High Level Group on simplification is part of a broader initiative to improve how Member States and regions invest and manage EU Cohesion Policy funds, set by Commissioner Corina Creţu and the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy.



European Union Culture logo

The EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards was launched in 2002 by the European Commission and has been organised by Europa Nostra since then. The Prize celebrates and promotes best practices related to heritage conservation, management, research, education and communication. In this way, it contributes to a stronger public recognition of cultural heritage as a strategic resource for Europe’s society and economy.

The Prize honours every year up to 30 outstanding heritage achievements from all parts of Europe. Up to seven are selected as Grand Prix laureates and one receives the Public Choice Award, chosen in an online poll. All the winners receive a certificate as well as a plaque or trophy. The Grand Prix laureates also receive €10,000 each.

The awards are given in four categories:

Outstanding achievements in the conservation, enhancement and adaptation to new uses of cultural heritage.

Outstanding research projects which lead to tangible effects in the conservation and enhancement of cultural heritage in Europe.

Open to individuals or organisations whose contributions over a long period of time demonstrate excellence in the protection, conservation and enhancement of cultural heritage in Europe and far exceeding normal expectations in the given context.

Outstanding initiatives related to education, training and awareness-raising in the field of tangible and/or intangible cultural heritage, to promote and/or to contribute to the sustainable development of the environment.

Specialist juries made up of independent experts assess the nominated projects and select the winners in the four categories.

The awards are presented to the winners at a major public event, which is held each year in a different European city. The 2015 European Heritage Awards Ceremony is held on 11 June at the emblematic City Hall of Oslo. Vienna hosted the European Heritage Awards Ceremony in 2014, Athens in 2013 and Lisbon in 2012.

The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards has been supported by the EU Culture Programme (now replaced by the Creative Europe Programme). A total of 415 remarkable heritage accomplishments have been recognised in the past 13 years.

Since 2002, the Awards Scheme has contributed significantly towards further professionalism and structuring of the heritage sector, by highlighting the best practices, encouraging cross-border exchange of knowledge and bringing together different stakeholders in wider networks. The Prize has also brought major benefits to the laureates, such as greater national and international exposure, follow-on funding, technology sales and increased visitor numbers. Last, but not least, the Prize has increased the visibility of the heritage sector amongst the general public while giving it a distinctly European dimension. Read study on the impact of the Prize.

WINNERS 2010-2015


For more information, please contact:
Elena Bianchi
Heritage Awards Coordinator
+31 70 302 40 58

Proposal Development Event on co-creation, growth and inclusion



Proposal Development event on co-creation, growth and inclusion

15th of June (13:00 till 18:00), Brussels

Registration is now open

ERRIN, invites Universities, Regions and Businesses to the proposal development event on co-creation, growth and inclusion, which will focus of the coming funding opportunities in 2016-17. We would like to engage with the likeminded individuals on the following areas of expertise: Economics, ICT, Technology, Health, Social Sciences.

Co-creation puts end-user or customer in the centre of production process and co-creation of value. At this event we will be looking at co-creation in a context of

(i) purpose-driven innovation,

(ii) end-user involvement and

(iii) cross-boundary collaboration.

We are looking to focus on Co Creation

  • In Health Diet, Diabetes, Smoking and Obesity
  • In Culture Virtual Museums and Social Platform on European digital heritage, memory, identity and cultural interaction
  • In Responsible Research and Innovation: specifically gender related
  • In Design: User-driven innovation: value creation through design-enabled innovation
  • In ICT: Please note this is a major Cross cutting theme.
  • In Security: Anti-corruption, fraud and cybercrime
  • In Mobility: mobility of people and money and its consequences for the European social and economic system

What is the aim of Brokerage Event? It is an event that provides the opportunity to meet consortium partners and discuss project proposals ahead of the 2016/2017 calls with the potential to develop consortia.

How to get the best out of the Brokerage Event Prior to the Brokerage Event, we invite all participants to make their project ideas and/or expertise known via the ERRIN Site. Participants will have the opportunity to present their idea in a facilitated round table session in a short project pitch to promote their proposal.

Who should attend? Regions, companies and universities with the following areas of expertise:

Economics, ICT, Technology, Health, Social Sciences who are interested in developing project proposals and partners in for the 2016-17 topics as well as some 2015 ones. This is the right place to bring together well targeted ideas and clearly defined cooperation needs from the research and business sector.

For more information and participation please contact:

Tatiana Panteli, European Business and Research Development Manager,


11.8 billion Euros for 2014-2020: the European Commission has formally adopted the UK partnership agreement on the 29th October.


The European Commission (EC) has adopted Partnership Agreements with six Member States on the 29th October, including the United Kingdom. The UK Partnership agreement allocates €11.8 billion of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for key thematic investments during the period 2014-2020. The UK government is now waiting for a formal response from the European Commission to its Operational Programmes.

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) covers the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The funds are concentrated on a limited number of priorities for a better impact on growth and jobs in the UK: research and innovation, ICT, competitiveness of enterprises and low carbon economy represent more than 80% of the total allocations.

Both the European Commission and the United Kingdom are expecting to increase the number of innovative enterprises, including the number of collaborations between SMEs and academic institutions in the UK. Superfast broadband, low carbon economy, sustainable land management, inactivity levels, higher level training and skills are also within the main targets of the UK Partnership Agreement.

Within the ESI Funds Growth Programme, England is being allocated €3.6 billion of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), €3.3 billion of European Social Fund (ESF), and €3.4 billion for Rural Development.

The ERDF and ESF Operational Programmes, which are breaking down the investment priorities and objectives of the Partnership Agreements into concrete actions, are due to be adopted by the European Commission in the next few months. Applications will then be able to be submitted to the relevant Managing Authorities of the programmes for applying to these funds.

To find out more:

European Regional Development Funds (ERDF): Group of Councils (South Yorkshire and five Merseyside) are given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court to challenge allocation of EU (ERDF) structural funds – including the Public Sector Equality Duty

In R (Rotherham Borough Council et al) v Secretary of State v Business and Skills [2014] EWCA 1080 it has been very recently reported that the Councils in the appeal, had disappointingly suffered a defeat in the Court of Appeal (on 28 July) in their claim for judicial review. That much is true.

However on 30 July (yesterday), the combined Councils’ expedited appeal, including the assertion that the Government owed a public sector equality duty pursuant to section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 has won favour in the UK Supreme Court and is due to be heard on 22 October.

The combined appeals included breaches of UK and EC law directed at the Government’s failure in duty by producing discriminatory and disproportionate cuts in ERDF funding cuts for their regions – as found at first instance by Stewart J.
This appeal will be of great interest and importance to Universities for a host of reasons, not the least of which being:

1. Novel arguments related to the macroeconomic funding including ERDF will be passed through the prism of high level EU principles of equal treatment and proportionality in the Department of Business Innovation and Skills failure to treat the Regions in the same way as other regions – the Court of Appeal indicated that the Commission had not imposed a legal standard as to how to allocate funds to transition or any other regions, and even if one were found a very high threshold of unreasonableness would need to be reached.

2. The public sector equality duty (the PSED) pursuant to section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 will also be relied upon in a very novel way to assert equal treatment, and to uphold the decision at first instance that the PSED was breached by the Government – Stewart J paragraph 93.

3. The wide margins of discretion and the broad discretionary brush wielded by Government in making political economic and social choice in allocation of funding had to involve exercise of broad discretion; pursuing objectives including ‘a target for improving conditions for research and development’ and a target for reducing greenhouse gases and emissions and increasing energy efficiency, was described as ‘classic territory for affording the decision maker a wide margin of discretion’ (at paragraph 57 of the Court of Appeal decision – Dyson MR)

4. The equal treatment principle, which requires that ‘comparable situations must not be treated differently and different situations must not be treated in the same way unless such treatment is objectively justified’. The principle was put more shortly: ‘Has there been a failure to treat like cases alike (and unlike cases differently)?’ The entire appeal was summarised to be about how the equal treatment principle should be applied; and what margin of discretion should be afforded to the Secretary of State when deciding whether different categories are alike or unalike – whether Liverpool could be compared with Highlands and Islands, or Northern Ireland in a meaningful sense (the ‘comparability question’). There is (apparently) no authority as to the issue as to the exercise of margin of discretion of the decision maker (in this case of the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills) on the question of ‘comparability’ – and there lies the rub.

5. The Court of Appeal set out the comparators of the economic performance of the different regions, and they are the list that would be familiar to Universities in ERDF funding: general economic performance of different regions, respective employment rates for aged based groups, and significantly ‘conditions for research and development’ and respective greenhouse gas emissions (cf. the Energy Efficiency funding stream etc). The Court of Appeal perhaps rightly emphasised that the comparison exercise between regions was ‘multi-factorial’ – and then decided that the ‘decision maker is entitled to a wide margin of discretion in making such a decision’ – which should only be interfered with if a high standard of unreasonableness was met. It is difficult in my view to take sides on such an argument, but the University sector (indeed any party receiving ERDF funding) ought to be watching the progress of the appeal closely.

6. There was concern expressed in the appeal that the Councils’ domestic appeals (to be heard in October this year) would prejudice recipients in Funds in other regions, if not derail the entire ERDF funding stream itself. It was evident that the Commission’s position regarding the lawfulness of the Government’s policy was not formally known, and the parties were advised to obtain information and advise on further appeal as to the Commission’s position vis a vis the parties – central and local government. However, an expedited appeal, resulting from a permission hurried into the Supreme Court on the last day of term, is at least a first brisk step towards clarity. The issue as to whether following the forthcoming appeal there could be a reference to the European Court also remains open, and much would depend on the general position the Commission takes, which is currently unknown.

The decision of Justice Stewart:

the decision of the Court of Appeal on 28 July 2014:

Useful Local Government Article by Mark Smulian on the Court of Appeal defeat:

Rights, Equality and Citizenship in Europe

The European Commission has launched a new funding scheme around rights, equality and citizenship. This blog gives an overview of the scheme. Individual calls will be launched over the coming months.

Funding Body: Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme


Specific objectives are to:-

  • Promote non-discrimination
  • Combat racism, xenophobia, homophobia and other forms of intolerance
  • Promote rights of persons with disabilities
  • Promote equality between women and men and gender mainstreaming
  • Prevent violence against children, young people, women and other groups at risk
  • Promote the rights of the child
  • Ensure the highest quality of data protection
  • Promote the rights deriving from Union citizenship
  • Enforce consumer rights

Support is available for training, awareness raising, networking and transnational cooperation.

Activities to be funded include:-

  • Training activities (staff exchanges, workshops, development of training modules etc.)
  • Mutual learning, cooperation activities, exchanges of good practices, peer reviews, development of ICT tools etc.
  • Awareness-raising activities, dissemination, conferences etc.
  • Support to main actors/key stakeholders

Budget: It may not be the same for all strands but many of them look like they will offer to fund 80% of project costs.

Deadlines: Separate calls are planned under each of the Programme objectives, the majority are planned for the second half of 2014, although some are set for the second quarter of the year.

Further Information:

You can see a breakdown of upcoming calls on the International Unit website:



Factsheet on Knowledge Alliances fund under Erasmus+

The European Commission are encouraging Higher Education institutions to work in partnership with businesses on innovative projects that address teaching and learning. The projects are expected to generate long term partnerships which develop entrepreneurship.

The funding is called Knowledge Alliances and is part of the Erasmus+ scheme. Although the deadline for 2014 has recently closed, it takes time to develop a strong consortium and project idea. The External Projects Team is encouraging staff to get thinking on project ideas for 2015. To help have we have created a factsheet giving an overview of the fund.

It is expected that the 2015 deadlines will be in March/April, with calls coming out around November 2014.

Download Knowledge Alliance factsheet here

The External Projects Team can help you to find project partners and can help develop project ideas. Anyone who is interested should contact the team on


Horizon 2020: Notes on the Annotated Model Grant Agreement : the General MGA

Please find attached the link to discussion document issued by the Commission in relation to the General MGA. The preliminary discussion document refers mainly to Finance and financial information. However, it is informative in relation to clarification of contractual terms, such as the Intellectual property clauses.

For Intellectual property the following are noteworthy, the 2008 Recommendations have been well and truly dusted off, and re-emphasised:

1. the Notes emphasise the obligation to take measures to implement the ‘Commission Recommendation’ on the management of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities (see page 23 – Section 3: Rights and Obligations related to Background (IP) and Results). The recommendation principles were that member states are required: (i) to ensure that all public research organisations define Knowledge Transfer as a strategic mission and (ii) encourage public research organisations to establish in public policies and procedures for the management of intellectual property in line with the Code of Practice set out in Annex 1 (see link to the Commission Recommendations below).

Click to access h2020-amga_en.pdf

the Link to the 2008 ‘Commission Recommendations on the Management of Intellectual Property in Knowledge Transfer Activities’

2. Article 26.4, is noteworthy (at page 179) whereby as ownership to protect Results, the Agency/Commission,
“may with the consent of the beneficiary concerned, assume ownership of results, ‘to protect them’, if a beneficiary intends up to four years after the period set out in Article 3 – to disseminate results…”

It will remain to be seen how this provision and its exceptions will operate, especially in light of the fact that Universities and commercial parties might not have had sufficient time to assess whether the IP could be commercially exploited – even after the period of 4 years following the contractual period set out in Article 3.

There are many useful Notes in the attached, including some curiosities (such as at Article 26.2, page 178). In relation to joint ownership of IP by reason of joint creation, which (in the view of the writer) begs more questions than it answers. It is arguable that the parties would separately agree ownership regardless of the manner of creation of the IP – an issue that will be further discussed in relation to Article 26.2 – the joint ownership agreements will require closer consideration.

3. At the top of page 180, there is the Note which reads: ‘Best Practice: To avoid or resolve ownership disputes, beneficiears are advised to keep documents such as laboratory notebooks to show how and when they produced the results’ Laboratory Notebooks have been the subject of a previous Blog, however the Notes cover other useful ‘Best Practice’ gems such as this.

Latest news on the Health for Growth Programme

With a proposed budget of €446m the general objective of the Health for Growth Programme is to:- ‘work with the Member States to encourage innovation in healthcare and increase the sustainability of health systems, to improve the health of EU citizens and protect them from cross-border health threats’.

It is proposed that the programme will focus on the links between economic growth and health, and will concentrate on finding and applying innovative solutions to improve the quality, efficiency and sustainability of health systems.  It will support actions aimed at developing human capital and exchanging good practices in the following areas:-

  • Contributing to innovative and sustainable health systems;
  • Increasing access to better and safer healthcare;
  • Promoting good health and preventing disease;
  • Protecting citizens from cross border health threats.

The Programme will be managed by the Directorate General for Health and Consumers.  It will be delivered according to priorities set out in annual work programmes.  Funds will be made available in the form of:-

  • Grants for joint actions (transnational partnerships)
  • Grant to projects
  • Operating grants
  • Direct grants to International Organisations
  • Public procurement

The opportunities available to apply for grants for joint actions and projects and public procurement tenders will be of interest to the university.  The Programme will offer opportunities for HEI involvement in activities aimed at increasing the uptake of results from FP7 (and its successor Programme Horizon 2020) research; to participate in expert networks; to undertake research and analysis and in providing some training and staff development for health workers.

Publication of the first calls for proposals is expected in April or early May 2014.


Lebanese learn about H2020…..


The External Projects Team have supported the EU funded Business School project IDEAL (The Innovation and Development of Academic-Industry Partnerships through Efficient Research Administration in Lebanon). Emma and Jose filmed a 90 minute training video on the latest EU Research Funding Programme Horizon 2020. This film covers a number of key areas, including the policy framework for Horizon 2020 and detailed description of the funding mechanisms and opportunities for engagement.

The IDEAL programme, launched in early December 2012, it is helping to forge links between local researchers and their international counterparts, while working with industry to identify research priorities and commercialize any innovative ideas.  The project is coordinated by the Office of Grants and Contracts at the American University of Beirut and Staffordshire University are one of the partners.

Pictured are from left to right: Emma Davies, Tom Ward, Jose Beech and Ian Jackson.

For more information on H2020 and the latest calls for proposals please get in touch with

For more information on IDEAL please follow the Link