Article 67(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union ("TFEU") declares as the European Union’s objective ensuring a high level of security within an area of freedom, security and justice.
To achieve this objective, enhanced actions at European Union level should be taken to protect people and goods from increasingly transnational threats and to support the work carried out by Member States’ competent authorities.
The Internal Security Strategy for the European Union ("ISS"), adopted by the Council in February 2010, constituted a shared agenda for tackling these common security challenges and identified the following relevant strategic objectives for 2010-2014: to disrupt international crime networks, to prevent terrorism and address radicalisation and recruitment, to raise levels of security for citizens and businesses in cyberspace and to increase Europe’s resilience in the face of crises and disasters.
To promote the implementation of the ISS and to ensure that it becomes an operational reality, the Internal Security Fund ("ISF Police") was set up.
In April 2015 the European Commission adopted the European Agenda on Security ("EAS") for the coming five years, which builds on the actions undertaken under the previous Internal Security Strategy, thus ensuring consistent and continued action. The EAS identified the following three priorities: tackling terrorism and preventing radicalisation, disrupting organised crime and fighting cybercrime.
On the basis of the EAS, the Council adopted in June 2015 the renewed European Union Internal Security Strategy 2015-2020 confirming tackling and preventing terrorism, radicalisation to terrorism and recruitment as well as financing related to terrorism, preventing and fighting serious and organised crime and preventing and fighting cybercrime as the main priorities for European Union's actions.
The legal base of the Internal Security Fund ("ISF") Police is the following regulations:
- Regulation (EU) No 513/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 establishing the Instrument for financial support for police cooperation, preventing and combating crime, and crisis management (OJ L 150 of 20 May 2014);
- Regulation (EU) No 514/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 laying down general provisions on the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and on the instrument for financial support for police cooperation, preventing and combating crime, and crisis management (OJ L 150 of 20 May 2014).
The ISF Police Regulation sets out two specific objectives, respectively:
(ii) enhancing the capacity of Member States and the Union for managing effectively security-related risks and crises, and preparing for and protecting people and critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks and other security-related incidents.
In conformity with Regulation (EU) No 514/2014 Article 6.2, in order to implement the ISF Police, the Commission has adopted on 27 September 2017, the 2017 Annual Work Programme for Union actions1, which includes this Call for Proposals.
The Prüm Decisions 2008/615/JHA and 2008/616/JHA of 23 June 2008 on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime, require Member States to set-up the necessary infrastructure to perform cross-border exchange of DNA-profiles, fingerprinting data and vehicle registration data.
Council Framework Decision 2009/905/JHA of 30 November 2009 requires Member States to accreditate their forensic service providers carrying out laboratory activities concerning DNA and fingerprints.
The Council adopted in December 2011 Conclusions regarding the realisation of a European Forensic Science Area by 2020, “where routine forensic processes for the collection, processing, use and delivery of forensic data should be based on equivalent minimum forensic science standards and where forensic service providers should work on the basis of a common approach to implementation of these standards that fosters closer cooperation between them and the criminal justice systems”.
The Council adopted in June 2016 Conclusions and a related Action Plan on the way forward in view of the creation of an European Forensic Science Area. The related action plan contains 6 specific actions: (1) Developing best Practice Manuals for forensic disciplines, (2) Stimulating exchange of forensic information from databases, for example in the areas of weapons and ammunition, explosives and drugs, (3) Developing proficiency tests and collaborative exercises for forensic disciplines, (4) Increasing forensic awareness and training for law enforcement and justice communities, (5) Stimulating the accreditation of forensic service providers and competence of forensic personnel on a voluntary basis, and (6) stimulating the exchange of forensic data via Prüm and improving its quality.
The main objective of the present call is to finance projects aiming to implement in EU Member States the relevant actions of the action plan accompanying the Council Conclusions of June 2016 on the way forward in view of the creation of a European Forensic Science Area. A specific focus is put on the full implementation of the Prüm decisions in EU Member States.
2. PRIORITIES OF THIS CALL FOR PROPOSALS
The present Call for Proposals aims at funding projects in the area of forensics science in the EU.
Project applications submitted under the present Call for Proposals must address the priority of achieving a European Forensic Science Area by 2020.
This call for proposals is addressed to transnational projects aiming at exchanging best practices, training, setting common procedures, joint procurement and deployment of the necessary equipment, and accreditation of forensics laboratories, including funding operational meetings, innovative projects and test runs.
To meet this priority, projects must aim to achieve one or all of the 6 specific actions identified in the June 2016 Council Conclusions on the way forward in view of the creation of a European Forensic Science Area. A specific focus is put on action 6, which has the objective to stimulate the exchange of forensic data via Prüm and improving its quality.
This priority stems from the Council Conclusions of December 2011 and June 2016, as well as from the obligations flowing for Member States from the Prüm Decisions of June 2008 and the Council Framework Decision of 2009 on the accreditation of forensics laboratories for their DNA and fingerprint activities.
Any action under this Call for Proposals shall pay particular attention to avoiding duplication with the work currently ongoing or planned by ENFSI, the European Network of Forensics Science Institutes, on the June 2016 action plan on the way forward in view of the creation of a European Forensic Science Area.
Any action under this Call for Proposals shall respect and shall be implemented in line with the rights and principles enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Applications should pay appropriate attention to the effects of the project on individual rights and freedoms, as well as to possible remedies. In addition, any action under this Call for Proposals should comply with all relevant ethical principles and all applicable international, EU and national law on ethical issues while carrying out the project.
a) Publication of the call
18 October 2017
b) Deadline for submitting applications
28 February 2018 – 17:00 CET)
c) Evaluation period
March – May 2018
d) Information to applicants
e) Signature of Grant Agreement
f) Starting date of the action
4. BUDGET AVAILABLE
The total budget earmarked for the co-financing of projects is estimated at EUR 3 million. The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.
5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
Applications must be sent no later than the deadline for submitting applications referred to in section 3.
Applications must be submitted using the Electronic Submission System of the Participant Portal originally developed for the Horizon 2020 Research programmes.
Applications must be submitted using the standard Submission Form Part A and Part B. They must include all the mandatory information and be accompanied (if applicable) by the Audit Report2 Annexes.
Applications must be drafted in one of the EU official languages. English is preferred in order to speed up the evaluation procedure.
Projects cannot be scheduled to last more than 18 months.3 Applications for projects scheduled to run for a longer period will be rejected.
Failure to comply with these requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.
6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
6.1. Eligible applicants and applications
In order to be eligible for a grant the applicant and co-applicants must:
a) Be a Member State participating in the ISF Police Regulation, with possible participation of third countries when explicitly mentioned in the official Call for
proposals when published.
b) Proposals seeking EU co-funding of less than EUR 250.000 will be rejected.
Union agencies can be neither Applicants nor Co-applicants.
Affiliated entities, i.e. legal entities having a legal or capital link with Applicants, shall take part in the action as individual Co-applicants in order to declare eligible costs.
To prove these eligibility requirements, Applicants and Co-applicants will have to provide the relevant information and upload necessary documents showing their legal status in the Beneficiary Register. The information needs to be provided before the submission deadline.
6.2. Eligible activities
The following types of activities are eligible under this Call for Proposals:
7. EXCLUSION CRITERIA
Applicants will be excluded from participating in the Call for Proposals procedure and from the grant award if they are in any of the situations referred to in articles 131(4) of the EU Financial Regulation4, i.e. one of the following situations:
7.1. Exclusion from participation in the Call for Proposals
(a) they are bankrupt or being wound up, are having their affairs administered by the courts, have entered into an arrangement with creditors, have suspended business activities, are the subject of proceedings concerning those matters, or are in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for in national legislation or regulations;
(b) they or persons having powers of representation, decision making or control over them have been convicted of an offence concerning their professional conduct by a judgment of a competent authority of a Member State which has the force of res judicata;
(c) they have been guilty of grave professional misconduct proven by any means which the contracting authority can justify including by decisions of the EIB and international organisations;
(d) they are not in compliance with their obligations relating to the payment of social security contributions or the payment of taxes in accordance with the legal provisions of the country in which they are established or with those of Belgium or those of the country where the action is to be implemented;
(e) they or persons having powers of representation, decision making or control over them have been the subject of a judgment which has the force of res judicata for fraud, corruption, involvement in a criminal organisation, money laundering or any other illegal activity, where such an illegal activity is detrimental to the Union's financial interests;
(f) they are currently subject to an administrative penalty for: being guilty of misrepresentation in supplying the information required by the Commission as a condition of participation in a procurement or grant award procedure or for failing to supply this information; or having been declared to be in serious breach of its obligations under grant agreements or contracts financed by the Union's budget.
7.2. Exclusion from award
Applicants will not be granted financial assistance if, in the course of the grant award procedure, they:
(a) are subject to a conflict of interest in connection with the action;
(b) are guilty of misrepresentation in supplying the information required by the Commission as a condition of participation in the grant award procedure or fail to supply this information;
(c) find themselves in one of the situations of exclusion, referred to in section 7.1.
Administrative and financial penalties may be imposed on Applicants and Co-applicants who are guilty of misrepresentation.
8. SELECTION CRITERIA
8.1. Financial capacity
Applicants and Co-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. Organisations participating in several projects shall have sufficient financial capacity to implement multiple projects.
Financial capacity check will be performed by the Research Executive Agency (REA). It will be assessed in line with the requirements of the Financial Regulation (EC) No 966/2012.
The documents that will be requested when assessing the financial capacity include (1) the profit and loss account and (2) the balance sheet for the last financial year for which the accounts were closed. For newly created entities the business plan may replace the above documents.
The financial documents must be uploaded in the Beneficiary Register when uploading the application package.
In case of low financial capacity, the Commission may decide the following:
- request further documents;
- request budget modifications / reallocations of costs;
- introduce interim payments based on interim reports;
- modify pre-financing percentage.
In case of insufficient financial capacity, the Commission may decide the following:
- request a change of Co-applicant;
- reject the application.
Financial Capacity assessment will not be carried out if:
- the Applicant or Co-applicant is a public body or an international organisation;
- the EU contribution requested by the Applicant or Co-applicant is ≤ EUR 60 000.
If the share of a grant requested by an organisation (Applicant or Co-applicant) exceeds EUR 750 000, this organisation must also provide an audit report produced by an approved external auditor certifying its accounts for the last closed financial year. This provision shall not apply to public bodies or to international organisations.
8.2. Operational capacity
Applicants and Co-applicants must have the professional competencies as well as appropriate qualifications necessary to complete the proposed action. This capacity shall be assessed based on the experience of the Applicants and each Co-applicant or, as an alternative, on the relevant experience of their directly involved employees.
As evidence, the following information must be provided in the Submission Form Part B of the proposal:
- general profiles (qualifications and experiences) of the staff primary responsible for managing and implementing the proposed action to be described under point 5.1.3,
- a description of the partnership in the context of the proposed action to be provided under point 5.1.1.
The operational capacity assessment is not applicable to public bodies and international organisations.
9. AWARD CRITERIA
Eligible applications and their proposed action will be assessed on the basis of the following award criteria:
Maximum Points 30
2. Quality of the project
Maximum Points 20
3. Cost effectiveness
Maximum Points 20
4. European added value
Maximum Points 20
5. Expected results, dissemination, sustainability and long-term impact
Maximum Points 10
Maximum Points 100
Evaluation Step 1:
• Relevance: applications will be assessed on the extent to which they match the priorities and expected outcomes as identified in this Call for Proposals (section 2 above) and in the relevant EU strategic documents and/or action plans (section 1 above), and on whether the expected impact will be significant on the selected priority(ies) (30 points).
Applications receiving less than 21 points for the "relevance" criterion will not be evaluated further, i.e. will not go to Evaluation Step 2.
Evaluation Step 2:
Quality: applications will be assessed with regards to the appropriateness of their design and planned implementation, taking into account the envisaged activities, methodology, organisation of work and strategy for project management, evaluation and dissemination (20 points);
Cost-effectiveness: applications will be assessed with regards to whether the costs of the proposed action are adequate to the activities and proportionate to the expected results (20 points);
European added value: the project activities, outcomes and impact should have a broad EU relevance; applications will be assessed on whether a suitable number of countries is involved in the project activities and on whether the expected impact will concern a significant number of countries (20 points);
Expected results, dissemination, sustainability and long-term impact. (10 points). Applications that pass the threshold of minimum 65 points will be considered for funding
within the limits of the available budget.
10. LEGAL COMMITMENTS
The award of each grant is subject to the conclusion of a Grant Agreement in writing.
The coordinators of projects proposed for funding will be invited to engage in a grant agreement preparation process, which will be carried out via an online IT system (SYGMA). If successful, it will conclude with the signature of a Grant Agreement, drawn up in euro and detailing the conditions and level of funding.
The Grant Agreement must be signed electronically first by the coordinator on behalf of the consortium and then by the European Commission. All co-beneficiaries must accede to the Grant Agreement by signing electronically the accession form to the grant.
Please note, that if international organisations are involved in the application, no other specific clauses applicable to international organisations than the ones already included in the Model Grant Agreement will be added.
Please note that the award of a grant does not establish any entitlement for subsequent years.
11. FINANCIAL PROVISIONS
An action may only receive one grant from the EU budget.
In no circumstances shall the same costs be financed twice by the Union budget. To
ensure this, applicants shall indicate the sources and amounts of Union funding received or applied for the same action or part of the action or for its functioning during the same financial year as well as any other funding received or applied for the same action (Submission Form Part B, section 6).
No grant may be awarded retrospectively for actions already completed. A grant may be awarded for an action which has already begun only where the Applicant can demonstrate the need to start the action before the Grant Agreement is signed. In any case, costs eligible for financing may not have been incurred prior to the date of submission of the grant application.
Co-financing means that the resources which are necessary to carry out the action may not be entirely provided by the EU grant.
Co-financing of the action may take the form of:
- - -
the Beneficiary's own resources,
income generated by the action, financial contributions from third parties.
The Budget Estimate of the action is to be included in the Application Form. It must have revenue and expenditure in balance and must be drawn up in euro.
Beneficiaries with general accounts in a currency other than the euro shall convert costs incurred in another currency into euro at the average of the daily exchange rates published in the C series of Official Journal of the European Union, determined over the corresponding reporting period.5 Where no daily euro exchange rate is published in the Official Journal of the European Union for the currency in question, conversion shall be made at the average of the monthly accounting rates established by the Commission and published on its website, determined over the corresponding reporting period.
Beneficiaries with general accounts in euro shall convert costs incurred in another currency into euro according to their usual accounting practices.
Where the implementation of the action requires the award of procurement contracts (implementation contracts), the Beneficiary must award the contract to the bid offering best value for money or the lowest price (as appropriate), avoiding conflicts of interests and retaining the documentation for the event of an audit. Detailed information on subcontracting is provided in the Guide for Applicants.
e) Financial support to third parties
The applications may not envisage provision of financial support to third parties. f) Non-profit rule
EU grants may not have the purpose or effect of producing a profit within the framework of the action. Profit shall be defined as a surplus of the receipts over the eligible costs incurred by the Beneficiary, when the request is made for payment of the balance. In this respect, where a profit is made, the Commission shall be entitled to recover the percentage of the profit corresponding to the Union contribution to the eligible costs actually incurred by the Beneficiary to carry out the action.
11.2. Maximum amount requested
The EU grant is limited to a maximum co-funding rate of 90% of the total eligible costs of the action.
Consequently, part of the total eligible expenses must be financed from sources other than the EU grant (see section 11.1.c).
11.3. Payment arrangements
A pre-financing payment corresponding to maximum 80% of the EU grant amount will be transferred to the Coordinator after the signature of the Grant Agreement by both parties and in accordance with its terms.
The Commission will establish the amount of the final payment to be made to the Coordinator on the basis of the calculation of the final grant amount. If the total of earlier payments is higher than the final grant amount, the Beneficiaries will be required to reimburse the amount paid in excess by the Commission through a recovery order.
12. PROCEDURE FOR THE SUBMISSION OF APPLICATIONS
12.1. How to apply
Proposals must be submitted by the deadline indicated in section 3 via the Electronic Submission System. The list of available calls can be found at the calls for proposals page.
Before submitting a proposal both the Applicant and Co-applicants must be registered via the Beneficiary Register and obtain the 9-digit Participant Identification Code (PIC) (one for each applicant).
In submitting a proposal, the Applicant accepts the procedures and conditions as described in this Call for Proposals and in the documents to which it refers.
No modification of the application is allowed once the deadline for submission has elapsed. However, if there is a need to clarify certain aspects or for the correction of clerical mistakes, the Commission may contact the Applicant for this purpose during the evaluation process6.
Applicants will be informed in writing about the results of the evaluation process.
12.2. Related documents
The following documents are available via the Electronic Submission System: — Applicationform(SubmissionFormPartAandPartB)
12.3. Applications for several projects
The Applicant may submit more than one application under this call for proposals. The Applicant may be awarded more than one grant under this call for proposals. An organisation may participate as Applicant or Co-applicant in several applications.
12.4. Several applications for the same project
Only one application will be accepted and evaluated for any given project. In case there are several applications for the same project, the Applicant will be asked to clarify which application shall be evaluated.
An action may receive only one grant from the EU budget.
For questions on the online submission tools, please contact the IT helpdesk set-up for this purpose via the Participant Portal website.
Non-IT related questions shall be sent to the following email address: HOME- ISF@ec.europa.eu. In order to ensure an efficient handling of any enquiry please indicate clearly the reference of this Call for Proposals.
Questions will be answered as soon as possible. Questions received later than 7 calendar days before the deadline for submitting applications will not be answered. In the interest of equal treatment of applicants, the Commission cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of applicants or actions or on the outcome of the Call for Proposals before the official announcement of results.
Applicants are advised to consult the Call's website regularly. The Commission will publish at this website any additional information relevant to the Call, such as responses to frequently asked questions (if appropriate) and the results of the selection procedure.
13.1. By the Beneficiaries
Beneficiaries must clearly acknowledge the European Union’s contribution in all publications or in conjunction with activities for which the grant is used. Please refer to the Grant Agreement for more details.
13.2. By the Commission
All information relating to grants awarded in the course of a financial year shall be published on an internet site of the European Union institutions no later than the 30 June If the share of a grant requested by an organisation (applicant or co-applicant) exceeds EUR 750 000, this organisation must also provide an audit report produced by an approved external auditor certifying its accounts for the last closed financial year. of the year following the financial year in which the grants were awarded. The Commission will publish the following information:
- name and address of the beneficiary,
- subject of the grant,
- amount awarded.
Upon a reasoned and duly substantiated request by the Beneficiary, the publication shall be waived if such disclosure risks threatening the rights and freedoms of individuals concerned as protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union or harm the commercial interests of the beneficiaries.
14. DATA PROTECTION
The reply to any call for proposals involves the recording and processing of personal data (such as name, address and CVs of individuals participating in the co-financed action). Such data will be processed pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data. Unless indicated otherwise, the questions and any personal data requested in order to evaluate the application in accordance with the specifications of the Call for Proposal will be processed solely for that purpose by the Commission or third parties acting on behalf and under the responsibility of the Commission. Data subjects may be informed regarding further details of the processing operations, their rights and how they may be enforced by referring to the privacy statement published in the Legal Notice page of the Participant Portal.
Applicants are invited to check the relevant privacy statement at regular intervals so as to be duly informed on possible updates that may occur by the deadline for submission of their proposals or afterwards. Beneficiaries assume the legal obligation to inform their staff on the relevant processing operations that are to be performed by the Research Executive Agency; in order to do so, they have to provide them with the privacy statements published by the Agency in the Participant Portal before transmitting their data to the Agency. Personal data may be registered in the Early Detection and Exclusion System (EDES) of the European Commission provided for in Articles 105a and 108 of the EU Financial Regulation according to the applicable provisions.
15. MEANS OF REDRESS
If, at any stage of the administrative treatment of grant applications, the persons or entities concerned consider that they have been affected by an instance of maladministration, they may, irrespective of any other means of redress, make a complaint to the European Ombudsman in accordance with Article 228(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and as provided by the Parliament Decision of 9 March 1994 on the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman's duties published in Official Journal L 113 of 4 May 1994.