EUROFER Position paper on Model Grant Agreement review

EUROFER position paper on draft review of RFCS Model Grant Agreement

Although as a principle, EUROFER favours a harmonisation of RFCS with FP7 only in respect to Intellectual Property (IP), EUROFER can accept and constructively supports the notion of basing the review of the MGA on the structures, tools and procedures of FP7, whilst adapting this approach to the special circumstances and characteristics of the RFCS.

EUROFER deems it necessary to fully understand the horizontal, vertical and transversal rules to which the Commission refers and relies in choosing this approach. In this respect EUROFER asks the Commission to provide relevant information and explanation.

EUROFER notes that the current draft contains elements not relevant for RFCS and inconsistencies, which both gives rise to the need for redrafting. EUROFER is prepared to assist the Commission in all aspects of this work.

The original schedule aimed for a final document by the end of 2008. In view of the importance of the MGA for the operationality of the RFCS and with the objective of creating a sound and satisfactory result, a reasonable extension of the time-frame is imperative.

The main aim of EUROFER is to design the MGA lean, simple to operate and clear so that discussions on interpretation are avoided. EUROFER thus expects that there is sufficient scope for amendments, which are needed to keep the RFCS administrable and even improve administrative efficiency.

The EUROFER list of items of 15/4/2008 is still valid, especially regarding the principles. EUROFER expresses the hope that in the next phases of the review, the content of this list will be integrated more visibly.

Proposed main modifications to the current proposal.

  • Accession model (Article 1)

EUROFER can accept such a model against signing of partners individually or by mandate, if this can simplify the contract and amendment procedures. Therefore, EUROFER proposes that the main part of information on beneficiaries (legal and bank details) to be contained in Form A (or any other Annex) such that beneficiaries can change this easily without the need for amendments (e.g. changes of the names of beneficiaries).

  • Consortium agreement (Article 1.4)

We are not in favour of consortium agreements as a standard rule. Compared to FP7 the RFCS projects are relatively small. We propose that any necessary standard details for the internal organisation of the project and IP should be contained within the Model Grant Agreement. If a consortium agreement is necessary, a respective decision should be left to the sole discretion of the beneficiaries. There should be a respective option in the Grant Agreement (Annex).

  • Payments (Article 5.4; Annex II Section 1 2b)

EUROFER is not in favour of payments to the coordinator. Again, like in the case of the consortium agreement this should be the sole decision of the beneficiaries.

  • Subcontracts (Article 7)
  • EUROFER is not in favour of setting limits to the amount of third party assistance.
  • There should be made a difference in handling affiliates and other third parties. Beneficiaries should be entitled to attract support from affiliates without approval of the Commission.
  • For third party assistance the guiding principle should be the quality and competence in the research work. Very often, only one specialised service provider exists and therefore, tenders should not be obligatory.
  • As a general rule, tenders should not be necessary for affiliates.
  • The obligation to use the model subcontract poses a problem insofar as this model contract does not take into account the specifics of the RFCS research.
  • Annex I – Technical description
  • There is no detail on what Annex I should look like in the future.
  • We are in favour construct this leaner and simpler as the current RFCS version. This should disincentivise overly bureaucratic control procedures, which do not take into account the nature of research work (e.g. cross-checking the exact compliance with work-package hours).
  • Annex III – special regulations on RFCS

The general opinion is that there is no need for such an Annex, if we process all RFCS rules in the grant agreement.

  • Form A & B

See comments regarding Accession Model. Form B should be an option only, if a beneficiary withdraws from the agreement and can be replaced by a suitable other beneficiary.

  • Form C

There is no detail on how Form C will look like in the future. However since we are using FP7, we should also use the FP7 principle on lean cost claims. Therefore, EUROFER proposes that the current RFCS Forms C will be amended in line with FP7.

  • Form D & E
  • EUROFER considers Form D as a good extension as this gives more directions to the auditors, but also should clarify the position of the auditor, the Commission and the beneficiaries in the case of audits.
  • Form E might be beneficial but only for explaining the methodology of average hourly rates. An audit certificate should be valid for all RFCS grant agreements.
  • The audit certificates (D&E) produced in this way should be accepted by the Commission without further scrutiny.
  • Technical verification & TGs (Annex II Section 3)

RFCS has delegated the technical verification and monitoring to TGs. Therefore EUROFER feels that any other external technical audit is unnecessary - unlike FP7 where nothing is arranged.

In general EUROFER suggests that if a project is closed (final report accepted and closure of account is done) this should be considered as final, except for audits by OLAF and/or the Court of Auditors.

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