1. INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND
The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, hereafter referred to as "EASME", acting under the powers delegated by the European Commission (also referred to as "the Commission" or "EC"), is launching a call for proposals with a view to concluding grant agreements for the implementation of projects on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP).
1.1. Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)
This call is launched in accordance with the 2016 Work Programme for the Implementation of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)1 (section 188.8.131.52 of the annex I C(2016)4575), on the basis of the objectives set out in the Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund2, and in particular Article 82(b).
1.2. General information concerning the call for proposals
The action covered by this call for proposals forms part of the EMFF Work Programme, whose implementation is partially delegated to the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
According to the Act of Delegation3, grant agreements will be signed by EASME.
The concept of Maritime Spatial Planning 1.3.1.
Marine and maritime sectors are crucial drivers for growth and jobs for the EU economy: they represent roughly 5.4 million jobs and generate a gross added value of almost 500 billion euros per year4. The European Commission seeks to promote a sustainable path for the development of EU's Blue Economy5.
One of the challenges is that maritime space is in high demand, and increasingly so. The competing needs of renewable energy installations, oil and gas exploration and exploitation, maritime shipping and fishing, ecosystem and biodiversity conservation (Marine Protected Areas), extraction of raw materials, tourism, aquaculture installations and underwater cultural
heritage, as well as the multiple pressures on coastal resources by an increasing population, call for an integrated planning and management approach.
Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is described7 as a process to analyse and organise human activities in marine and maritime space in order to achieve specific ecological, economic and social objectives.
As a planning process, MSP has a vital role to play both in terms of maximising the development potential for crucial activities, such as offshore renewable energy production, and arbitrating between human activities to ensure that the cumulative and combined effect of current and future activities does not compromise our marine ecosystems.
By providing long-term stability, predictability and transparency, MSP both secures existing activities and encourages investment for growth and jobs.
Action on MSP at EU level 1.3.2.
On the basis of preparatory actions8 the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive9 entered into force in September 2014, with the deadline for transposition and for the designation of the competent authorities set for September 2016.
The Directive sets overarching principles and common requirements by which to organise human activities in the EU maritime space to achieve environmental, economic and social objectives. The MSP Directive requires the implementation of MSP in all EU waters and the establishment by Member States of cross-sectoral maritime spatial plans by 2021.
The European Commission's intention is to support the development of MSP processes throughout the EU, by facilitating cooperation between Member States in the management of maritime space in EU waters.
In order to do so, the Commission has co-financed since 2009 a number of preparatory actions on MSP in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Atlantic and the Adriatic Sea10. This was followed by the launch in 2014 of initiatives to establish lasting MSP mechanisms for cross-border MSP cooperation in the Baltic, the Black and the Celtic Seas11.
In the same context, EASME published in 2016 another call for proposals for projects to support the launch and implementation of concrete cross-border MSP cooperation initiatives between Member States in the Northern European Atlantic, the Western and the Eastern Mediterranean12.
In parallel, an Assistance Mechanism has been set up in 2016 to support Member States in the implementation of the MSP Directive through a dedicated online platform and a team13 of MSP experts.
The Commission has also concluded a number of studies on various aspects of MSP:
A study on the legal aspects of MSP (2008)14;
A study on the economic effects of MSP (2010)15, which concluded that economic effects of MSP are reduced transaction costs for new maritime activities and an improved investment climate;
A study looking into the potential of MSP in the Mediterranean (2011)16.
Cross-border cooperation on MSP 1.3.3.
Maritime activities tend to have a cross-border dimension, insofar as the world's oceans and seas are interconnected. As a consequence, planning at national scale cannot fully capture and address the impacts of economic activities at sea.
This is why under the MSP Directive, Member States are required to cooperate and ensure that their maritime spatial plans are coherent and coordinated throughout the cross-border marine region concerned. Coordinating efforts across borders can further strengthen the positive impacts of MSP. For example, MSP can create the necessary framework for transnational installations or the devising of unified licensing procedures in bordering regions.
However, cross-border cooperation is very challenging to set up even for countries with well-developed MSP processes. The countries need to reconcile differences in approach, mandates and capacity, while managing uncertainties. This requires political commitment and significant financial and human resources.
This specific call will build on these first results including any lessons learnt and best practices with the double aim to enhance cross-border cooperation where it already exists and help initiate it where it is yet to be put in place.
1.4. Other EU relevant legislation and complementary actions
At EU level, other relevant EU policies and legislation needs to be considered in the context of MSP. This includes among others, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)17, Natura 200018 and related legislation, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)19, the Recommendation on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)20, the Renewable Energy Directive21 and the INSPIRE Directive22, amongst others.
The results of relevant INTERREG projects and other Research Framework Programmes23 (such as DEVOTES, COEXIST, MESMA, Knowseas or PERSEUS among others) or by other international organisations should also be taken into account in so far as possible, and wherever relevant proper coordination has to be established. Due regard should be given to EU and international obligations of Member States to establish Marine Protected Areas.
Applicants should bear in mind the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet)24 initiative by the European Commission. EMODnet is expected to have a role in providing the necessary data and assessing current data gaps for effective implementation of MSP. For example, the sea basin checkpoints are currently assessing data adequacy (availability and quality) for the evaluation of Marine Protected Areas for the Baltic, the Black Sea, the Atlantic and the Arctic sea basins.
To facilitate this screening task, a comprehensive database of MSP projects, studies and MSP practices is available at the European MSP Platform25.
2. OBJECTIVES – PRIORITIES – ACTIVITIES – OUTPUTS/IMPACTS
The overall objective of this Call for Proposals is to support the establishment and implementation of Maritime Spatial Plans in line with the EU Directive26 on MSP.
The specific objectives of this call are: 1) to support concrete actions in Member States helping to build capacity for the implementation of the Directive and; 2) to provide support for the establishment of lasting mechanisms for cross-border cooperation on MSP.
The geographical areas covered by this call include the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Black Sea and the Outermost Regions.
In order to fulfil the requirements established in the Directive27 and therefore the objectives of this call, applicants are required to address the following priorities in their proposals:
Support the work of competent authorities and/or inter-ministerial bodies in charge of developing and implementing maritime spatial plans;
Use a scenario-based method which should allow identifying and evaluating future potential uses, needs and maritime spatial development options. Such work should feed the establishment of maritime spatial plans;
Support the coherent application of an ecosystem-based approach and the integration of land-sea interactions;
Ensure an effective engagement with and participation of stakeholders in the design and implementation of MSP processes;
Develop, review and/or implement a monitoring and evaluation framework designed to ensure effective and sustainable use of maritime spaces;
Make use of the best available data and information by encouraging sharing of information.
In order to realise the objectives and priorities outlined above, projects should implement targeted activities resulting in concrete and measurable outputs and results.
In all cases, the proposed activities must:
1. Be in line with and contribute to ongoing national MSP processes. The proposals must put forward concrete actions to support national MSP processes and demonstrate their added value;
2. Wherever relevant consider the different state of progress of MSP in the Member States involved in the selected area. Proposed actions must be adapted to meet specific issues and needs linked to the specific state of progress of MSP;
3. Build on prior experiences from past MSP projects, promote good MSP practices within the targeted sea basins/marine areas and where feasible make use of existing governance mechanisms and structures.
Within the activities, 3 core components are distinguished, as follows:
Component 1: applicants are invited to select the outputs and activities that best meet the needs of the selected sea basin/marine region. All proposals have to address both national and cross-border aspects in line with the specific objectives of the call (section 2.1). However cross-border MSP aspects do not need to be taken into account for proposals submitted by Outermost Regions that do not border other EU Member States.
Components 2 and 3: all outputs and activities are compulsory as their completion is considered indispensable to accomplish the objectives of this call.
2.3.1.Component 1: Maritime Spatial Planning
184.108.40.206. Development of Maritime Spatial Plans: MSP as an efficient and coherent cross-sectoral tool for planning maritime activities.
As a tool for planning and integrating different uses of the sea, MSP is rooted in pre-existing legislation, national and local structures and procedures29. Legal requirements and operational procedures under international, EU and national law have a direct impact on how MSP can be framed and implemented. Moreover, the elaboration of MSP requires a comprehensive integration of all maritime sectors, which can include technical specificities for each of the concerned sectors. In most cases, the management of marine areas also involves different levels of public authorities, economic operators and sectors, as well as relevant stakeholders.
Lessons learned from the implementation of MSP in some countries have shown that having a well-defined legal base and clear administrative and operating procedure can help significantly to move the MSP process forward. MSP can benefit therefore from the establishment of inter-ministerial bodies or interdisciplinary MSP teams (so called “MSP body"), responsible for planning and establishing Maritime Spatial Plans, and its subsequent implementation.
Expected outputs (non-exhaustive list): as explained in section 2.2, applicants are invited to select the outputs that best meet the needs of the targeted area:
1. A description of the most MSP relevant information of the selected area: geographical demarcation, habitat description, oceanographic characteristics (spatial and temporal), legal frameworks and existing governance arrangements;
2. Identification and analysis of current spatial uses and needs including ecological, economic and social uses, as well as potential future demands by maritime sectors and future maritime uses (future scenarios) and envisaged benefits of MSP. Description of existing mechanisms and options for organising maritime space and uses;
3. An analysis of whether cross-border planning is considered relevant and necessary for the area(s) and which Member States are concerned. If relevant, assessment of existing governance structures or mechanisms in place for strengthening and fostering cross-border cooperation on maritime activities;
4. Definition of national MSP objectives and a draft roadmap for the establishment of MSP in national waters. If relevant, agreement on common objectives with bordering Member States for cross-border MSP activities in the sea basin or marine region;
5. Set-up of an appropriate structure (MSP body) and procedures to be used for the development of the Maritime Spatial Plan, including when the Plan covers cross-border areas. It should include if possible a description of the instruments and data to be used, including the process for involving stakeholders, as well as for assessing environmental impacts;
6. A fully-fledged maritime spatial plan for the area identified above, with full involvement of stakeholders;
7. A monitoring and evaluation framework (from guidelines to a fully functional framework as relevant and to the extent possible) for MSP for the region concerned including a well-defined timetable for evaluation and appropriate governance structures. Where monitoring and evaluation measures for MSP are already in place, actions may be oriented to testing, assessment and enhancement of such measures. In addition, the availability and quality of data sources and relevance of proposed indicators may also be assessed. Financial resources to be used for monitoring and evaluation purposes should also be clearly identified;
8. If an evaluation has already taken place, an updated maritime spatial plan and management process incorporating the outcomes of this evaluation.
In order to reach the relevant expected outputs, applicants may implement the following activities (non-exhaustive list):
- Consult and organise interdisciplinary workshops with different national authorities and stakeholders;
- Assess existing methodologies for stakeholder consultation and engagement whether at the planning or implementation stage, and reflect on which methodologies could be appropriate;
- Collect evidence from relevant maritime actors to identify administrative, technical, legal and/or other relevant barriers and opportunities that might prevent the blue economy activities to be fully developed;
- Identify specific inter-sectorial barriers and potential economic benefits for users/sectors of using common approaches and tools. This could include the undertaking of a socio-economic analysis on the benefits of MSP;
- Elaborate recommendations for creating synergies and improving the efficiency of regulatory processes governing national maritime activities (including cross-sectorial processes);
- Undertake activities aimed at ensuring that environmental requirements (under national, EU or international legislation) are taken into account from the initial stage of elaborating a MSP through to its effective implementation. This also includes the entire decision making process;
- Create, test, assess and/or enhance MSP monitoring and evaluation frameworks and tools.
220.127.116.11. Connecting cross-border to national MSP processes
As ecosystems and maritime activities do not stop at borders, one of the main provisions of the MSP Directive calls for the establishment of appropriate cross-border cooperation between Member States.
Member States are required to consult with bordering states and coordinate their plans, in order to ensure that the collective pressure resulting from the cumulative and combined impact of all maritime activities remains in line with environmental requirements for Good Environmental Status (Good Environmental Status) set by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Cross-border cooperation can help reduce conflicts between activities at bordering regions but also help maximise synergies, bring additional benefits and improve the smooth running of activities in cross-border regions.
NB: Cross-border MSP aspects do not need to be taken into account for proposals submitted by Outermost Regions that do not border other EU Member States.
Expected outputs (non-exhaustive list): as explained in section 2.2, applicants are invited to select the outputs that best meet the needs of the targeted area:
1. Common approaches for the management of maritime activities between bordering Member States. This can range from sharing information on MSP plans at cross-border regions to consulting actively between Member States and stakeholders (maritime activities involved);
2. Improved cross-border cooperation between MSP competent authorities but also with and between other stakeholders including the different industries active within the cross-border region;
3. Improved mutual understanding between bordering Member States of their different MSP processes including the different national MSP objectives, priorities, actions and activities being undertaken;
4. Identification of common resources which could be used for joint MSP cross-border activities and management, and for meeting common marine conservation objectives;
5. A cooperation mechanism to improve data and knowledge sharing and exchange between bordering Member States.
In order to reach the relevant expected outputs, applicants may implement the following activities (non-exhaustive list):
- Develop a proposal for a consultative process for developing MSP plans in cross-border regions. This could either be e.g. an informative process whereby each bordering Member State informs the others MS in due time of its MSP plans or closer consultation during the development of MSP in the cross-border regions;
- Analyse cooperation gaps between different sectors in the cross-border region;
- Develop a cooperation mechanism to facilitate common sectoral approaches between bordering Member States;
- Organis workshops, working groups or other consultative mechanisms to encourage cooperation of stakeholders with activities in cross-border regions;
- Map existing decision supporting tools and their use as joint management tools;
- Assess the benefits, potential issues and approach towards developing common decision supporting tools between bordering Member States;
- Activities aimed at increasing the dialogue between bordering Member State authorities such as setting up a dedicated expert group or providing common resources to finance such activities in a long term perspective;
- Develop recommendations on how to set up automated data exchange mechanisms between MSP information management systems or other cooperation mechanisms aiming at setting up a continuous knowledge exchange mechanism;
- Assess the possibilities to set up a common database, information system or other mechanism for pooling resources to be used for common marine conservation objectives or cross-border management activities;
- Improve the compatibility of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) between bordering Member States;
- Align existing national GIS datasets, maps and products at relevant spatial and temporal scales for the cross-border region concerned;
- Develop new GIS datasets, maps and products at relevant spatial and temporal scales for the cross-border region concerned.
Component 2: Management and coordination 2.3.2.
This component encompasses the activities related to the operational, administrative, legal and financial activities which are necessary to implement the project.
Applicants shall describe the project management structure that will be set up in order to ensure that the expected deliverables and results will be produced at the necessary quality level and in due time.
This includes on the one hand, the internal project management, notably how the beneficiaries will cooperate and coordinate their work throughout the project duration (e.g. organisation of coordination meetings, information exchange, data sharing, etc.), how exchange of information will be ensured between the beneficiaries to produce the expected deliverables and how the internal management of the project will be set up (e.g. monitoring and control of the incurred expenditure and preparation of the progress, interim and final reports).
This also includes on the other hand, the general and more strategic overseeing of the project by a Steering Committee (e.g. discussion on direction and priorities, strategic approaches, how the project can better feed into national and cross-border processes, etc.) including the relevant external stakeholders of the project.
Internal project management structure:
1. An internal cooperation agreement regarding the internal operation for the proper performance of the project. This should include a Project group comprising representatives from all beneficiaries. The EASME may request a copy of such agreement;
2. Appropriate mechanisms for information exchange at cross-sector and cross-border level that is viable and sustainable over time for the project (beneficiaries meetings, thematic workshops, video and teleconferences, SharePoint platform, etc.).
3. An adequate monitoring and evaluation system to ensure proper follow-up of tasks and deliverables;
4. If needed, project sub-groups to work on specific MSP topics;
Overall project steering (Steering Committee):
5. Establishment of a Steering Committee (SC) to ensure the overall strategic steering of the project. The SC shall comprise relevant representatives of the Member States where the action takes place, of the beneficiaries involved, as well as representatives from the Commission and EASME;
6. Working procedures defining how the SC will operate, including whether the SC is to be chaired on a permanent or rotating basis, assigning clear roles and responsibilities, describing the decision-making process, frequency of meetings (1-2 times per year, more may be scheduled if required), etc.
The above monitoring and decision-making processes must be clearly described in the project proposal.
In order to allow for appropriate discussion and feedback on the project implementation, the Coordinator should include provisions for regular contact with the Commission and the EASME, including attendance of a kick-off meeting in Brussels (which is additional to the project kick-off or launch event).
Component 3: Communication and Dissemination 2.3.3.
This component aims at disseminating the project outputs and activities and other MSP related achievements outside the project to the relevant stakeholders in Europe (e.g. bordering States, Regional Sea Conventions, specialised agencies, other sea basins etc.).
While the overall approach is left open to the applicants, they must deliver at the very least the following outputs:
- A repository of best practices and lessons learnt from the project;
- A project website, including a workspace, regular updates of this website with progress made, intermediate results. The existing website of the coordinator or one of the involved partner organisations can also be used for this purpose, especially if the organisation is the Competent Authority identified to implement the MSP Directive;
- An opening and a closing conference. The opening conference must aim to publicise the project and work to be done to a maximum of MSP stakeholders while the closing conference should present the outcomes of the project. The format and details are left for the applicant to decide but the events must be organised with the aim to reach out widely and to a large number of attendees;
- Promotional material, including its production and distribution (at relevant events, workshops, etc.). The type of materials to be developed and the format is left open to the applicants, but the project must produce at least:
- A form of leaflet or hand-out to distribute at events presenting the project (to be ready within the first 3 months of the project)
- A final leaflet or hand-out to distribute at events presenting the outcomes of the project (at the end of the project)
- A poster to display at events (to be ready within the first 3 months of the project)
N.B. EASME reserves the right to request some examples of the leaflet/hand-out, the poster and other communications material developed by the project.
In addition, applicants are encouraged to go beyond the minimum outputs described above and to develop additional products and events to maximise the impact of the project and promote the benefits of MSP.
Additional outputs may include (non-exhaustive list):
- Workshops, trainings and other hands-on activities to inform and build the capacity of MSP stakeholders during the project;
- Additional features of the website, such as online training courses, interactive exchange tools for stakeholders, etc.;
- Additional communication and information material such as leaflets, newsletters, etc. in particular if addressed to specific and defined target groups;
- Maps, tables, plans etc. to support the visualisation and dissemination of results, possibly feeding into the Maritime Forum33 and/or the European Atlas of the Seas;
- Appropriate mechanisms to contribute to the development of the EU MSP Platform.
2.4. Expected outputs/impacts
Projects are expected to produce the outputs as described for the three components in section 2.3 of this call for proposals within the project's duration.
A list of relevant indicators (qualitative/quantitative) to measure the expected outputs and impacts of the action must be included in the proposal. Examples of pre-defined indicators
1/ Development of Maritime Spatial Plans
Output indicators :
Delivery of rationale for the selection of the chosen sea area(s).
Description of the characteristics of the selected area.
Number of coordination meetings between governmental bodies.
Production of a description of human activities (both present and predictable future) assessed and analysed in the chosen sea area(s).
Delivery of model for maritime spatial plan.
Number of relevant and high quality maps produced.
Number of coordination meetings with stakeholders.
Description of methodology developed to establish MSP.
Description of experience and best practice in applying the requirements of the Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning.
Delivery of concept for a suitable monitoring and evaluation process.
Delivery of methodology for stakeholder involvement.
Analysis of the interactions between different human activities in the marine region selected.
Delivery of recommendations for set-up of procedures and processes for Maritime Spatial Planning in the marine region selected.
Development of a vision and definition of a set of common and coherent objectives for Maritime Spatial Planning in the marine region selected.
Description of the experience gained in the development of a maritime spatial plan.
Identification of current spatial uses and needs and potential benefits of MSP.
Evaluation of whether cross-border planning is relevant and beneficial.
Description of the effectiveness of the applied methodology to develop MSP.
Degree of involvement of stakeholders in the methodology proposed for stakeholder engagement.
Delivery of the identification of additional requirements and gaps.
Suggestion for a monitoring and evaluation process, including estimation of resources needed.
Suggestions to improve integration of different human activities at sea within the marine region selected.
Degree of involvement of relevant stakeholders/stakeholder groups through the planning and implementation phases.
2/ Connecting cross-border to national MSP processes
Delivery of high quality recommendations for set-up of coordination procedures for cross-border MSP.
Delivery of a model test case of the function and usefulness of a maritime spatial plan in the cross-border area(s) involvement of relevant ministries/authorities.
Analysis of the interactions between different human activities in the cross-border region.
Description of specific needs and challenges of the MSP process in the cross-border area(s).
Accurate description of procedural steps followed within the development of cross-border MSP.
Report produced on best practices for MSP in the cross-border area(s).
Set-up of consistent and lasting mechanism to ensure cross-border planning at sea basin level.
Identification and evaluation of best practices for MSP in cross-border areas.
Description of experience gained in developing a coordinated and coherent approach to Maritime Spatial Planning in the cross-border region.
Delivery of a lasting mechanism to exchange information between Member States.
Process for stakeholder involvement in cross-border MSP and degree of involvement within this process.
Development of lasting cooperation on MSP between Member States involved.
Common approaches adopted for the management of maritime activities in cross-border areas.
3/ Management and coordination
Output indicators :
Number of coordination meetings organised by Partners for the period of the project.
Production of adequate documentation of organisation and cooperation mechanisms.
Description of strengthened cooperation on MSP between partners of the project.
Result indicators :
Development of lasting cooperation on MSP between partners of the project.
Resolution of conflicts and issues during project implementation.
Punctuality of reporting and communication between partners and with EASME and the Commission.
4/ Communication and Dissemination
Number of reports about model cross-border maritime spatial plans.
Number of promotional material produced and distributed.
Number of articles and papers published in relevant media.
Number of relevant events participated in (with presentations/stands about the activities).
Number of stakeholders reached at events or otherwise.
Effective dissemination of results to stakeholders including best practices on approaches at events.
Description of knowledge and experience that can be transferred from the results.
Number of results discussed in the relevant international fora (e.g. Regional Sea Conventions other than Partners, Regional Advisor Councils (RACs)).
3.1. Indicative timetable
The indicative timetable for this call for proposals is:
Publication of the call
Deadline for submitting applications
31/03/2017 (in case of hand-delivery by 16:00, Brussels time)
Information to applicants
Preparation and signature of the grant agreement
Starting date of the project
Nonetheless, this does not prevent submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Within the available budget, the EASME will select for funding at least the highest ranked proposal in each of the eligible geographical areas, provided it has passed the minimum thresholds established in section 9. In case of budget availability, the order of additional projects proposed for funding will be determined by their quality score on the basis of the criteria set in Section 9.
The EASME expects to fund 4 to 6 proposals.
The EASME reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.
5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
Failure to comply with the following requirements will lead to the rejection of the application:
- Applications must be sent no later than the deadline for submitting applications referred to in section 3;
- Applications must be submitted in writing (see section 15), using the application form provided as annex to this call for proposals;
- Applications must be drafted in one the EU official languages. Submission in English is strongly encouraged and will facilitate the evaluation process.
6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
6.1. Geographical eligibility
The geographical area covered by the action includes the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Black Sea and the Outermost Regions. Proposals shall target one of the above areas. They shall involve at least two EU Member States, with the exception of proposals targeting the marine area of Outermost Regions that do not border other EU Member States.
For the purpose of this call Outermost regions are grouped in the following marine areas:
Caribbean – Amazonia: Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Martinique, and French Guyana;
Macaronesia: Canary Islands, Madeira and Azores;
Indian Ocean: La Réunion and Mayotte.
6.2. Eligible applicants
1. Applicants must be legal entities. Natural persons are not eligible as applicant for the purpose of the present call.
2. The following types of entities are eligible to participate in the Call as applicants:
a) Competent authorities38 in charge of maritime spatial planning of those coastal EU Member States or Outermost regions' authorities which are responsible for MSP in the selected area;
38 For the purpose of this call Competent Authorities are defined as the authority or authorities referred to in Article 13 (1) of the Directive 2014/89/EU. In case Member States have not designated yet this authority, then it is defined as the public authority or body in charge of MSP.
b) International, regional or intergovernmental organisations and their members, including relevant regional sea conventions (RSC) (e.g. HELCOM, VASAB, Black Sea Economic Cooperation, North Sea Commission, others) and their members;
c) Other public entities shall be considered eligible applicants provided that they are endorsed by Competent Authorities referred in section 6.2.a) as specified in point 5 below.
3. To be considered a public entity, the body in question must fulfil all of the following criteria:
- The body has been created by a public authority or is governed by private law with a public service mission;
- The public interest of the body must be explicitly mentioned in the relevant legal or administrative act(s);
- The body is financed totally or to a large extent by public sources;
- In the event that the entity stops its activities, all rights and obligations including financial rights and obligations will be transferred to a public authority.
For bodies to be considered as public entity, proof of compliance with all above criteria must be provided together with the proposal.
4. Affiliated entities
Legal entities having a legal or capital link with applicants, which is neither limited to the action nor established for the sole purpose of its implementation, may take part in the action as affiliated entities, and may declare eligible costs as specified in section 11.2.
For that purpose, applicants shall identify such affiliated entities in the application form. The affiliated entities will have to comply with the eligibility and exclusion criteria. 21
5. Supporting documents
In order to assess the applicants' eligibility, the following supporting documents are requested for the coordinator and each of the partners:
- Public entity: copy of the resolution/law/decree/decision establishing the entity OR if not available, any other official document proving the establishment of the entity by the national authorities;
- For applicants specified in section 6.2.c), an endorsement letter signed by the relevant MSP competent authority must be submitted with the application;
- Affiliated entities: shall demonstrate their legal/capital link with the applicant.
6.3. Eligibility conditions for consortia
1. Proposals must be submitted by a consortium of organisations as defined in section 6.2. One of these organisations must act as the consortium coordinator, while the others will act as partners.
2. Applicants from at least two Member States bordering the targeted sea basin/marine region must be involved in each proposal, with the exception of applicants from Outermost Regions that do not border EU Member States.
3. All partners of the consortium, including affiliated entities, will provide the coordinator with a power of attorney in writing through a mandate signed for that purpose39. The mandate shall fully empower the coordinator to act on the partners' behalf in the context of the grant agreement. The mandates will be requested from successful applicants only.
39 The template for the mandate is available on the EASME website (see section 15).
In addition to eligible applicants as defined in section 6.2.1., it is possible for other relevant parties to participate with an observer status, e.g. public bodies from non EU Member States, EU Member States from other sea basins than the one targeted by the project, or other regional or international organisations active in the area. Observer status means that the entity will not receive any European Union co-financing and will not join or sign any statements. Thus, participation in any activity or meetings will be at the observer's own expenses (e.g. travel costs for observers are not eligible under this action). Moreover, these entities will not be taken into consideration for determining compliance with the eligibility conditions for consortia set out above.
6.5. Eligible activities
Eligible activities shall be those necessary to carry out the project and to deliver on the expected outputs and impacts, in accordance with the objectives set in section 2.1 and the priorities in section 2.2.
7. EXCLUSION CRITERIA
All applicants, including both the consortium coordinator and other partners, must provide a declaration of honour (see template in the annexed application form), signed and dated by an authorised representative, stating that they are not in one of the situations of exclusion listed in that declaration of honour.
EASME reserves the right to verify whether the successful applicants are in any of the situations of exclusion by requiring the supporting documents listed in the declaration of honour.
8. SELECTION CRITERIA
8.1. Financial capacity
For public entities and international organisations:
On the basis of article 131(3) FR and given the eligibility criteria set for applicants under section 6 of this call for proposals, such applicants are considered to 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.
This type of applicants has to submit a declaration of honour that they have the financial capacity to carry out the project, but no additional supporting documents are requested.
For bodies that are governed by private law with a public service mission:
The applicants' financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the following supporting documents to be submitted with the application:
A) Total grant value41 is ≤ EUR 60 000:
• a declaration of honour (to be provided by each of the applicants)
B) Total grant value is > EUR 60 000:
• a declaration of honour (to be provided by each of the applicants), AND
For all applicants except for public bodies and international organisations42, the following additional supporting documents:
• the profit and loss accounts and the balance sheets for the past 2 years for which the accounts were closed;
• the financial capacity table provided for in the application form, filled in with the relevant statutory accounting figures, in order to calculate the ratios as detailed in the form.
For newly created entities, the business plan might replace the above documents.
C) Total grant value is ≥ EUR 750 000:
• In addition to the supporting documents required under B) above, applicants shall provide an audit report produced by an approved external auditor certifying the accounts for the last financial year available.
• In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above threshold applies by applicant.
If on the basis of the documents submitted, the financial capacity is not considered satisfactory, the EASME may:
- request further information;
- propose a grant agreement with a pre-financing covered by a bank guarantee (see section 11.4 below);
- where applicable, require the joint and several financial liability of all the co-beneficiaries;
- or reject the application.
8.2. Operational capacity
Applicants must have the professional competencies as well as appropriate qualifications necessary to complete the proposed project. They must also demonstrate their connection to national MSP processes.
However, on the basis of article 131(3) FR and given the eligibility criteria set for applicants under section 6 of this Call for Proposals, eligible applicants are considered to have the professional competencies as well as appropriate qualifications necessary to complete the proposed project.
In this respect, applicants have to submit a declaration of honour that they have the operational capacity to carry out the project.