1. CALL CONTEXT
The general context for this call for proposals is defined in Section 3.11 of the 2017 CEF Telecom Work Programme1 as published on the call page on the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) website.2
2. BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE
The background and rationale for this call for proposals are defined in Section 3.11.1 of the 2017 Work Programme.
The priority outcomes of this call for proposals are defined in Section 3.11.2 of the 2017 Work Programme.
This call aims at facilitating the establishment of the infrastructure necessary for the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSI) in the Member States and its connection to the central EESSI electronic communication (Core) platform.
Proposals may include the following activities:
Consultancy for project management, feasibility studies, assessment studies and deployment related to the EESSI software and overall EESSI implementation at national level
Acquisition of hardware (example: servers, networking devices, cabling) required by EESSI DSI, for the installation and connection of the Access Points or the RINA (Reference Implementation of a National Application)
Acquisition of the infrastructure software licenses necessary for the installation, operation and connection of the EESSI Access Points to the Core platform
Installation and configuration of the EESSI Access Points, including non-production environments
Set up of the eDelivery conformant access points in Member States as part of national IT applications and to be used by the EESSI generic services, as detailed in sections 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206 of the 2017 Work Programme. An eDelivery access point is defined as an implementation of the e-SENS AS4 Profile, a profile of the ebMS3 and AS4 OASIS Standards. This specification is available for download here: https://ec.europa.eu/cefdigital/wiki/x/AwFfAQ
Set up and training of the first- and second-level IT support teams of the EESSI Access Points participating in the EESSI business
Training for users involved in the EESSI cross-border business processes
Distribution, installation and configuration of the RINA in the national data centres for
Distribution, installation and configuration, development and deployment of national
applications to allow connection to the EESSI Core platform and compliance with the cross-border business processes. These applications can be RINA, applications developed entirely by the Member States, applications reusing RINA components or National Gateways
Further development and configuration of the software installed in the national data centres that will assist with the connection of the Access Points with the national IT systems at the level of the relevant institutions for EESSI-related use.
Actions selected following this call will include a mandatory conformance testing provided by the EESSI Core Service Platform or by a well-recognized conformance/interoperability testing organization.
Applicants who already received CEF funding under the 2016-1 EESSI call and who plan to apply again under this call must clearly explain in the relevant section of application form part D of their proposal (notably section 1 and Q2.1) how their proposed actions will differ from those action(s) funded under the previous call.
4. RESULTS EXPECTED FROM THE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
The benefits and expected outcomes of this call for proposals are defined in Sections 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 of the 2017 Work Programme.
This call will contribute to supporting an efficient transition to electronic exchange of data in order to reduce the period of coexistence of digital exchange with the current paper procedures, increase overall efficiency in social security coordination activity and help Member States comply with the provisions and deadlines specified by Regulations (EC) 883/20043 and 987/20094. The call will also specifically help the setting up of the local EESSI helpdesk teams in a majority of Member States, as well as the deployment of the Access Points.
The indicative amount to be allocated on the basis of this call for proposals to projects of common interest in the field of trans-European telecommunications for EESSI generic services is €17 million.
Funding will be limited to one proposal per Member State and a maximum of €2,000,000 per Member State, regardless of whether one or several entities from that Member State apply.
Date of publication of call for proposals
17 February 2017
Deadline for the submission of proposals
18 May 2017 (17:00.00 Brussels time)
Evaluation of proposals
June-September 2017 (indicative)
Consultation of the CEF Committee
October 2017 (indicative)
Adoption of the Selection Decision
October 2017 (indicative)
Preparation and signature of grant agreements
between October 2017 and February 2018 (indicative)
7. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
A proposal will not be evaluated if at least one of the following situations occurs:
It is not submitted electronically in the TENtec Information System eSubmission module.5 In this respect, proposals or part(s) of proposals submitted by email or hard copy will not be admissible.
It is not submitted by the deadline for submission of proposals (see Sections 6 on Timetable and 13.2 on Submission of proposals).
The proposal is incomplete, i.e. any part of the application form (A, B, C or D) is missing. The proposal is not duly signed by the applicant(s).
8. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
In accordance with the 2017 Work Programme and pursuant to Article 9 of the CEF Regulation,6 only those proposals submitted by one of the following types of applicants are eligible:
One or more Member States;
In accordance with section 4.3.1 of the 2017 Work Programme, European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA) may participate8 in the call for proposals, even when not explicitly mentioned in the Work Programme text, with the same rights, obligations and requirements as EU Member States. At the time of call publication, these conditions apply to Norway and Iceland only.9
Where necessary to achieve the objectives of a given project of common interest and where duly motivated, third countries and entities established in third countries may participate in actions contributing to the projects of common interest. They may not receive funding under the CEF Regulation, except where it is indispensable to achieve the objectives of a given project of common interest.
Acceding states and candidate countries benefiting from a pre-accession strategy may also participate in the sector of the CEF covering telecommunications infrastructure in accordance with agreements signed with the EU. As at the time of call publication no such agreements have been signed, the same conditions as for third countries apply to acceding states and candidate countries.
Third countries and entities established in third countries may only participate as part of a consortium with applicants from EU/EEA countries. The application must contain the agreement of the Member State concerned by the proposed Action and an explanation from the European partner involved in the proposal on why the participation of the third country applicant is necessary and/or indispensable. Applicants that are entities established in a third country must also provide proof of the support of the third country authorities concerned.
Proposals may be submitted by entities which do not have legal personality under the applicable national law, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf and offer a guarantee for the protection of the EU's financial interests equivalent to that offered by legal persons.
Proposals submitted by natural persons are not eligible.
Any applicant that cannot provide the agreement of the EU Member State or EEA country concerned will not be eligible.
Applicants may designate affiliated entities within the meaning of Article 122(2)(b) of the Financial Regulation,10 for the purpose of supporting the implementation of the action submitted for funding. Such affiliated entities must comply with the eligibility criteria for applicants.
For multi-applicant proposals, a coordinator must be designated.
In line with Article 106 of the Financial Regulation and Article 141 of the Rules of Application,11 an applicant will be excluded from participating in the call for proposals procedure if it is in any of the following situations:
a) it is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding up procedures, its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, it is in an arrangement with creditors, its business activities are suspended or it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under national legislation or regulations;
b) it has been established by a final judgement or a final administrative decision that it is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the law of the country in which it is established, with those of the country in which the authorising officer is located or those of the country of the performance of the contract;
c) it has been established by a final judgement or a final administrative decision that it is guilty of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession to which the entity belongs, or by having engaged in any wrongful conduct which has an impact on its professional credibility where such conduct denotes wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:
fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of selection criteria or in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision;
entering into agreement with other persons with the aim of distorting competition;
violating intellectual property rights;
attempting to influence the decision-making process of the Commission/ the Agency during the award procedure;
attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it undue advantages in the award procedure;
d) it has been established by a final judgement that it is guilty of the following:
fraud, within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;
corruption, as defined in Article 3 of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of EU Member States, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 May 1997, and in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, as well as corruption as defined in the legal provisions of the country where the authorising officer is located, the country in which the entity is established or the country of the performance of the contract;
participation in a criminal organisation, as defined in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;
money laundering or terrorist financing, as defined in Article 1 of Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council;
terrorist-related offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, as defined in Articles 1 and 3 of Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, respectively, or inciting, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit such offences, as referred to in Article 4 of that Decision;
child labour or other forms of trafficking in human beings as defined in Article 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;
e) it has shown significant deficiencies in complying with the main obligations in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision financed by the Union’s budget, which has led to its early termination or to the application of liquidated damages or other contractual penalties, or which has been discovered following checks, audits or investigations by an Authorising Officer, OLAF or the Court of Auditors;
f) it has been established by a final judgment or final administrative decision that it has committed an irregularity within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95;
g) for the situations of grave professional misconduct, fraud, corruption, other criminal offences, significant deficiencies in the performance of the contract or irregularity, it is subject to:
facts established in the context of audits or investigations carried out by the Court of Auditors, OLAF or internal audit, or any other check, audit or control performed under the responsibility of an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body;
non-final administrative decisions which may include disciplinary measures taken by the competent supervisory body responsible for the verification of the application of standards of professional ethics;
decisions of the ECB, the EIB, the European Investment Fund or international organisations;
decisions of the Commission relating to the infringement of the Union's competition rules or of a national competent authority relating to the infringement of Union or national competition law;
decisions of exclusion by an authorising officer of an EU Institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body.
Applicants will not be granted financial assistance if, in the course of the grant award procedure:
they are subject to a conflict of interests;
they are guilty of misrepresenting the information required by the contracting authority as a condition of participation in the grant award procedure or have failed to supply that information;
find themselves in one of the situations of exclusion, referred to above.
These same exclusion criteria also apply to affiliated entities. Applicants and their affiliated entities, if applicable, must certify that they are not in one of the situations listed above.
8.2 Eligible actions
Only actions which can be identified as "projects of common interest" as defined in the Telecom Guidelines12 may receive EU financial assistance.
9. SELECTION CRITERIA
The financial and operational capacity of applicants and designated affiliated entities will be assessed as specified below.
The requirement for applicants to demonstrate their financial and operational capacity does not apply to Member States, public sector undertakings or bodies established in the EU/EEA countries (Norway and Iceland), third countries, international organisations, European Economic Interest Groupings (EEIG)13 in which at least one member is a public sector body, and Joint Undertakings in line with eligibility criteria established under Article 187 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
The requirement to demonstrate financial and operational capacity also applies to affiliated entities only where, according to the proposal, the affiliated entity(ies) will be the only one(s) implementing the proposed Action.
9.1 Financial capacity
Applicants must have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the period during which the action is being carried out and to participate in its funding.
Applicants' financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the following supporting documents to be submitted with the application:
Low value grants (≤ €60,000):
- a declaration on their honour.
Grants > €60,000:
- the completed Financial Capacity Check form;
- the profit and loss account, the balance sheet for the last financial year for which the
accounts were closed;
Grants ≥ €750,000:
- the completed Financial Capacity Check form
- the profit and loss account, the balance sheet for the last financial year for which the accounts were closed;
- an audit report produced by an approved external auditor certifying the accounts for the last financial year available
- for newly created entities and/or applicants that do not have certified financial dataavailable for the last financial year, the applicant must provide a letter of support from a third party (another company such as the parent company or from another applicant in the same proposal). The letter of support must also be accompanied by the Financial Capacity Check form completed by the party providing support, including the relevant annexes (financial statements for the last year) and showing a 'satisfactory' or 'good' ratio analysis.
In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above thresholds apply by applicant.
9.2 Operational capacity
Applicants must have the operational and technical competencies and capacities required to complete the proposed action for which the grant is awarded. They must provide the appropriate documents attesting to that capacity (e.g. organisation activity reports, proof of experience in carrying out equivalent actions in related fields). Information submitted by applicants who have benefited from CEF Telecom support since 2014 may be taken into account in the evaluation of these applicants' operational capacity.
10. AWARD CRITERIA
The award criteria are defined in Annex 2 of the 2017 Work Programme.
The proposals will be evaluated on the basis of the following three criteria Relevance, Quality
and efficiency of the implementation and Impact as described below: Relevance
Alignment with the objectives and activities required for the deployment of the Digital Service Infrastructure described in Chapter 3 of the Work Programme and priorities set in Section 3 of the call text.
Alignment and synergies with relevant policies, strategies and activities at European and national level.
Quality and efficiency of the implementation
Maturity of the proposed solution (e.g. in terms of contribution towards interoperability, connectivity, sustainable deployment, operation, upgrading of trans-European digital service infrastructures, use of common building blocks, coordination at European level) and/or integration with existing components of the DSI.
Coherence and effectiveness of the work plan, including appropriateness of the allocation of tasks and resources.
Quality and relevant experience of the individual participants and, if more than one beneficiary, of the consortium as a whole (including complementarity, balance).
Extent to which the proposal demonstrates support from national authorities, industry and NGOs (when relevant).
Appropriate attention to security, privacy, inclusiveness and accessibility (when relevant). Impact and sustainability
Quality of the approach to facilitate wider deployment and take-up of the proposed actions.
A score will be applied to each of the three award criteria on a scale from 0 (insufficient) to 5 (excellent). The threshold for individual criteria is 3. The overall threshold, applying to the sum of the three individual scores, is 10.
At the end of the evaluation by independent experts, all evaluated proposals will be ranked, according to the scores obtained for each of the award criteria as indicated above.
If necessary, a priority order for proposals which have obtained the same score within a ranked list will be determined. The following approach will be applied successively for every group of ex aequo proposals14 requiring prioritisation, starting with the highest scored group, and continuing in descending order:
Proposals submitted by organisations established in an eligible country which is not otherwise covered by more highly-ranked proposals, will be considered to have the highest priority (geographical coverage).
The proposals identified under (i), if any, will themselves be prioritised according to the scores they have been awarded for the Relevance criterion. When these scores are equal, priority will be based on scores for the Impact and Sustainability criterion.
If a distinction still cannot be made, further prioritisation may be done by considering how to enhance the quality of the project portfolio through synergies between proposals, or other factors related to the objectives of the call or to the CEF Work Programme in general. These factors will be documented in the evaluation report.
11. COMPLIANCE WITH EU LAW
In accordance with Article 23 of the CEF Regulation, only actions in conformity with EU law and which are in line with the relevant EU policies in the area of telecommunications infrastructure will be financed.
12. FINANCIAL PROVISIONS
Other sources of financing
Pursuant to Article 129 of the Financial Regulation, no EU financial aid will be awarded to actions receiving funds from other sources of EU financing. Under no circumstances will the same costs be financed twice by the EU budget.
12.1.2 Non-profit principle
In accordance with Article 125 of the Financial Regulation, grants shall not have the purpose or effect of producing a profit within the framework of the action. Where a profit is made, the Commission shall be entitled to recover the percentage of the profit corresponding to the EU contribution to the eligible costs actually incurred by the beneficiary to carry out the action.
(TRUNCATED -- please click on the public link for full proposal)