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New rules set for EU-US cooperation in Horizon 2020 projects

October 25, 2016

I would like to share some interesting news regarding EU-US cooperation and share my thoughts on its practical consequences for the EU projects involving US organisations.

On 17 October 2016, the European Commission and the US Government signed an agreement, which facilitates cooperation between US organisations and Horizon 2020 participants.

This agreement indeed has been signed with the scope to ease and simplify collaboration between the US and EU partners in an H2020 project. The Partners are only expected to complete bureaucratic or reporting requirements of their respective funding programmes. That is the good news.

But, let’s see two main extracts from this agreement:

Section 1: “U.S. institutions, not receiving funds under the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation, currently Horizon 2020, may conduct cooperative research and relevant activities with EU participants, irrespective of the nature and extent of their contributions, without being a participant, and are not required to sign grant or consortia agreements under these Programmes or other forms that are required for EU participants.”


Section 6: “Research Partners are encouraged, where appropriate, to reach a common understanding in respect of intellectual property rights, data access, and data dissemination and other matters considered essential to research collaboration governance.”

My questions would be right away: in case neither the EC Grant Agreement, nor the Consortium Agreement is signed by the US organisations, what will empower the coordinator legally to make US partner organisations perform and report? (The question of course works vice versa as well.) The reporting requirements on the US side are quite different from the one in the EU, shall the coordinator just copy-paste the US report as an Annex to the Periodic Report of the project? Maybe that will satisfy many coordinators, but having participated in a few international collaboration projects, I can say that this is a solution only if all partners do their job and even more to reach the common objectives. In case some of the European or some of the US partners fail in delivering the work, then the full consortium will fail and the reports submitted to the respective funding programme authorities might not be accepted partially or fully. The principle of joint technical responsibility might become difficult to apply with partners in conflict.

And the next automatic question: if these parties need to reach a common understanding in terms of IPR, data access, dissemination and management, etc., that understanding should be confirmed in a written format, right? So they should sign an agreement in case they want to have the partners legally obliged to comply with the terms of their common understanding. Which type of contract and applicable law is recommended for their agreement? A simple memorandum of understanding?

From the practical perspective: if they are encouraged to sign this agreement, wouldn’t it be logical to get the usual Consortium Agreement (CA) signed by all parties in the H2020 project? The CA, as a civil contract, can set special conditions for the US participants in terms of their administrative and reporting obligations, as well as in terms of IPR and data management issues. The applicable law would probably still remain the law of the agreed European country (normally the law of Belgium) as this is a project submitted and successfully evaluated under the Research and Innovation Framework Programme of the European Union – where the US organisations are co-financed by a US funding scheme set up specifically for co-participating in this EU programme – and still, the conditions for conflict resolution could be managed based on more international standards.

What might ease more the participation of US organisations in H2020 projects is to help with legal advice and tailor the CA template with the special conditions satisfying the US partners.

I am looking forward to seeing the different solutions working out for different consortia in H2020 projects.

By: Gabriella Lovasz

10 ways you can use social media in your Horizon 2020 project

October 12, 2016
1. Engage your stakeholders in a live dialogue during a conference

Tip: if you reply to a user and want the tweet to be visible to everyone (and not just to that user’s followers) write something (such as a period) before the user’s name!

2. Pin a tweet to maintain it on top of the page even as you continue tweeting in the next days

Tip: to keep the 140 characters, shorten your link using services like,, etc.

3. Tag other users on pictures: they will receive a notification and will want to check you out!

 4. Share your newly published deliverables

5. Use hashtags to attract users interested in specific fields or topics, and create your own to better follow conversations

6. Create lists to group the users you follow according to their expertise

7. Tease the conference attendants on the speakers they’ll be able to meet

8. Include hashtags in your account description, so interested users can find you more easily

9. Always be as visual as possible

10. Keep an eye on and see with your eyes the impact you’re making!


Participation of Associated Countries in Horizon 2020: Example of Ukraine

September 29, 2016

Association to Horizon 2020

As of September 2016, there are 16 countries associated to Horizon 20201. Being associated to Horizon 2020 means that a third country can formally participate in the programme and is expected to provide a financial contribution on the basis of an International Agreement concluded between individual non-EU countries and the European Union. The participation conditions are the same as for the EU Member States and organizations and researchers from associated countries enjoy the same rights within the Horizon 2020 framework.

Agreement on the Association of Ukraine to Horizon 2020

On March 20th, 2015, Ukraine and the EU signed the Agreement on the Association of Ukraine to Horizon 2020 which enabled researchers, business and innovative companies and individuals from Ukraine to fully participate in Horizon 2020.

According to the Agreement2, Ukraine’s financial contribution to the Horizon 2020 is set on an annual basis proportionally and in addition to the amount available within the EU annual framework for the Programme’s realization, management and operation. The coefficient defining Ukraine’s contribution is calculated on the basis of Ukraine’s GDP in market prices and the sum of EU Member States’ GDP in market prices. The ratio is calculated based on the annual Eurostat data. It is important to underline that, in order to promote Ukraine’s participation, the parties agreed on the possibility to secure a part of Ukraine’s financial contribution (up to 50%) through the external aid instruments provided by the EU, as per Ukraine’s request. The total contribution is EUR 35,579,782.09 and the first payment of EUR 5,002,872.87 for 2015 is to be paid out in several instalments over 2016-20203.

Ukraine’s performance in the Programme

The Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine compiled statistical data analyzing Ukraine’s performance in Horizon 2020 over 2014-20154:

  • 394 project proposals were submitted and 42 were approved;
  • The largest number of proposals (91) covered the Societal Challenge “Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies”;
  • At the same time, the highest number of approved proposals related to actions (13);
  • Projects on societal transformations, energy, environment and bio-economics enjoyed a relatively high success rate as well (19 were supported).
  • The overall success rate is around 10%, which is lower than the EU average (14%).
  • Research institutes and private companies enjoy higher success rate (13.43% and 10.6% respectively), while SMEs do not actively participate in the Programme.
  • While higher educational establishments are leaders in submitting proposals, their success rate is rather moderate -7.61%.

The CORDIS data on projects starting in 2016 shows that Ukrainian organizations take part in 21 projects. Horizon 2020 First Results5 reveal that Ukraine is among the top ten countries in terms of share of eligible applications as well as signed grant agreements (see charts below).

Future cooperation opportunities

Ukraine has demonstrated positive participation and success trends within Horizon 2020 compared to FP7 and, therefore, formal participation in the Programme during 2016-2020 will be beneficial for the country’s economy, R&I potential boost and new partnerships across Europe. Additionally, it will encourage increased R&D funding in Ukraine as in 2013 the GDP ratio spent on R&D was two times smaller compared to the EU average (0,83% vs. 2%6).

Ukraine has chosen Horizon 2020 as the first EU programme for participation after the start of the provisional application of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement7. The Association of Ukraine to Euratom and Training Programme followed on June 27th, 2016. In addition, on September 13th, 2016, within the financial instrument InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility supported by Horizon 2020 framework “the European Investment Fund (EIF) and ProCredit Bank Ukraine signed a loan guarantee deal that will offer small and medium-sized companies in Ukraine easier access to risk capital for the development of innovative ideas”8. These agreements open a wide range of cooperation opportunities for businesses, academia and innovators in Europe contributing to technological advances and scientific discoveries as well as tackling existing societal challenges.

By: Liliya Levandovska

The “3 Ps” to a successful meeting organisation

September 28, 2016

By definition, a meeting is “an act or process of coming together” for example “as […] an assembly for a common purpose […]”1. Meetings are omnipresent in our everyday life and a universal form of communication. Whether happening informally in our private sphere, or in a formal context of work-related setting, or anything in between, each meeting requires a certain amount of organisational effort.

This article is intended to help you quickly get an overview of what and how much organisational effort your planned meeting would require. Always reflect on the following “3 Ps” principle when organising a meeting: they help define the nature of your meeting and are important for all further planning steps.


Place: Will the event be held as a physical meeting or as tele-meeting? In a physical meeting the participants meet in person and have the chance for social interaction and to get to know each other. This often requires a set of logistical arrangements for preparing the physical meeting place. A tele-meeting will take place via any form of tele-communication services such as phone, video or chat. These meetings generally do not require complex logistical arrangements prior to the event except for ensuring the technical connectivity and functioning of the communication facility and the participants’ understanding thereof.

Participants: Will the meeting host representatives of two parties (bi-lateral discussions) or more than two parties (multi-lateral discussions)? This will have an influence on different factors such as time allocation to speakers, the level of detail you may allow in discussions, the choice of topics such as confidentiality, etc.

Purpose: Are you trying to reach a single aim or multiple aims with the meeting? Define the aim of the meeting prior to the event in order to derive an appropriate agenda. If you aim for a single goal in a meeting, you will be able to cover different aspects around this single goal and allow a higher level of detail in discussions. With meetings striving for multiple aims, you might cover a greater amount of work overall, but time restrictions might only allow a lower level of detail in discussing a topic.
There are of course several other aspects that need taking care of for a successful organisation and delivery of your planned meeting such as detailed planning in terms of logistics, paying attention to details, and careful management and monitoring throughout the entire process. Nevertheless, we believe that addressing appropriately the above 3 Ps will help you get started on the right foot, after which you can go ahead and make your event a success.

By: Daniel Frohnmaier

Europa Media recommends – visit Budapest!

September 19, 2016

With Budapest as the site of our office and many successful training courses over the last few years (e.g. European Funding Academy, Proposal Development and Project Management Lab), we are always happy to welcome you to the capital of Hungary. In the hope of sharing with you an unbiased portrayal of the city, this blog post was not written by a Hungarian, but rather a non-local who has been living here for seven years.

At first glance

Without doubt, anyone visiting Budapest as a tourist is charmed by the city’s Art Noveau, Baroque and Neoclassical architecture, the view from the banks of the Danube (parts of which are a UNESCO World Heritage site), affordable and diverse accommodation and cuisine, as well as a trendy and distinctive ruin pub culture. Nowadays, with the Hungarian movie industry booming, it’s also not uncommon to run into Hollywood celebrities exploring Budapest’s busy streets in relative anonymity.

Budapest essentials

Those who stay here a bit longer are bound to get an appreciation of how the network of metro lines, buses, trams, trolley buses, public bicycles and even public boats (that double as a budget sightseeing tour) provides a quick way to get around in this beautiful city. And with the famous thermal baths of Budapest and a thriving cultural scene, there is plenty to see – just be sure to book your ticket in advance as Budapestians are avid theatre and opera goers.

Gradual changes…

Having lived here for some time, I’ve had an excellent opportunity to observe how the city has evolved and progressed resulting in a blend of old and new. Development and renovation is present everywhere – from famous city squares, subway, bus and tram lines to local kindergartens, libraries and playgrounds.

…with the help of EU Funding

It is worth mentioning that many of these projects have been carried out with the support of EU funding1, as “through nine national and regional programmes, Hungary has been allocated EUR 25 billion from European Structural and Investment Funds over the period 2014-2020” with Hungary contributing EUR 4.63 billion2.


My personal favoriterenovated spots in Budapest are Várkert Bazár and Ferenciek Tere.

Várkert is a beautiful Garden Bazaar built in 1883 in the neo-Renaissance style near the Budapest Castle. It was designed as a marketplace and a park with numerous stores and studios. Later, the Bazaar was a famous dance club and park hosting various concerts.

However, in the 1980s it fell into disrepair and remained that way until 2014 when it was transformed into a picturesque recreation area in the heart of Buda as well as an exhibition and event venue.

Ferenciek Tere is an example of citizen-conscious urban planning when a busy downtown street was transformed into a pedestrian friendly zone.

City rankings

In no small part due to these positive changes, Budapest has recently made it to the top of city rankings. For example, it was voted the most welcoming city in 2013 (according to reviews on and the second best city in the world in 2013 and 2015 (according to readers’ choice of Conde Nast Traveler).

Unbeatable location

Your visit to Budapest will be an unforgettable one as the city has something peculiar to offer anyone. But if you’re looking to explore the region, Hungary’s capital is conveniently connected with other popular European cities (both due to the presence of low-cost flights and improved highways). Vienna, where most of our courses in the upcoming training season will be held, is just a two-hour ride away.

By: Liliya Levandovska


 195% of all public investments in Hungary are co-financed by the EU, making Hungary one of the top beneficiaries of EU funding.

Funding secured for UK partners in EU projects beyond the date of leaving the EU

September 1, 2016

On August 12th, Philip Hammond, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, has assured that all multi-year projects (ESIF, CAP and H2020) with signed contracts or funding agreements in place, and projects to be signed before the Autumn Statement, will be fully funded even when these projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU, when the payments will be underwritten by the Treasury itself.

After the referendum, uncertainty over future funding for projects increased, leading to the so described discriminatory wave against UK researchers, as some scientists were dropped from H2020 projects because of post-Brexit funding fears. This new move of the recently appointed Britain’s Chancellor, in charge of steering the UK economy through the uncertainty caused by the country’s looming exit from the EU, is guaranteeing British businesses and universities the green light to support key projects on economic development.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, has written to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, setting out the steps that the Treasury will be taking to guarantee funding streams. The assurances set out by the Treasury include:

  • In a short term – before the Autumn Statement, all European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) projects including agri-environment, employment, and regional development schemes.
  • In a medium term – ESIF projects signed after the Autumn Statement but while still remaining a member of the EU, the Treasury will also put in place arrangements for assessing whether to guarantee funding, ensuring that the spending commitments remain consistent with value for money and their own domestic priorities. Further detail will be set out ahead of the Autumn Statement.
  • Where UK organisations bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funded projects while being still a member of the EU, for example universities participating in Horizon 2020, the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.
  • The UK agricultural sector that receives annual direct payments through Pillar 1 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will receive the same level of funding until the end of the Multiannual Financial Framework in 2020 in order to help the agricultural sector transition effectively to a new domestic policy framework.

In this way, UK’s government is solving past uncertainties regarding grants and UK scientists’ participation in EU projects, but there are still some remaining concerns for UK’s researchers regarding the mobility between the UK and the rest of the EU following Brexit – integral to many H2020 schemes – as well as how to address the longer-term funding issue. For this reason, academics from the Imperial Collage London stated in their website that they are willing to work with the government and others involved in the sector to ensure that UK universities’ future remains “outward looking, European and global”.

BY: Mariana Mata Lara

Swiss research in 2017: Full access to Horizon 2020 or locked out of it?

August 30, 2016

The latest debates on what the future of UK’s science and research will look like after the post-Brexit period has shown us that the EU’s prestigious Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (worth €80 billion) is playing an important role in fostering research excellence of the EU member states. While considering the possible UK-EU potential scenarios, let’s take a closer look at the status of a non-EU country in Horizon 2020.

In July, the SERI (the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation) announced the Swiss Federal Council’s clear intention to obtain full association of Switzerland to Horizon 2020 from 1 January 2017 onwards. As you may know, Switzerland is considered as partially associated in Horizon 2020 until the end of December 2016. The condition for Switzerland to become a fully Associated Country to Horizon 2020 from January 2017 onwards1 is to ratify the protocol extending free movement of people to Croatia that has been on hold for two years. The final decision is expected to be known at the end of December 2016.

The current status of Switzerland in Horizon 2020

You may recall that the Swiss voters backed the curbs on immigration in a February 2014 referendum and Swiss authorities declined to sign a protocol on extending the rule of free movement of persons to Croatia. As a result, the EU rejected Switzerland’s extension of participation in Horizon 2020 as a fully associated country2.

However, a new agreement was signed on 5 December 2014, introducing a provisional solution by granting Switzerland a partially associated status with retroactive effect, from 15 September 2014 until the end of 2016. Under this agreement, researchers in Switzerland can participate and receive EU funding under the Excellent Science pillar (Pillar I) of Horizon 2020 (including ERC grants, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Future and Emerging Technologies and Research Infrastructures), as well as in the programme section on Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation, and in Euratom. For all other Horizon 2020 calls under the Industrial Leadership (Pillar II) and Societal Challenges (Pillar III) pillars, Switzerland is considered as an industrialised third country. In this case, Swiss participants in successful proposals do not receive EU funding, but can receive national funding from SERI on a project-by-project basis, provided they are eligible and comply with the conditions defined by SERI and following a pre-screening by Euresearch.


Switzerland’s participation in Horizon 20203  (2014 – 2016)


The future of Switzerland in Horizon 2020

As for Switzerland’s future in Horizon 2020 after the expiration of the current agreement, if Switzerland ratifies the Protocol extending the free movement of persons agreement to Croatia before 9 February 2017, the EU-Switzerland Agreement associating Switzerland to parts of Horizon 2020 will be expanded to cover the whole of Horizon 2020, Euratom programme and activities carried out by Fusion for Energy from 1 January 20174. The ratification process is already under way as the Federal Council stated its clear intention to obtain full association to Horizon 2020 for Switzerland, which would allow the Swiss researchers to claim EU funding under all H2020 pillars.

If Switzerland does not ratify the Croatia protocol by February 2017, the provisional agreement will be terminated with a retroactive effect as of 31 December 2016, and Switzerland will be automatically considered as a third country participant.

According to Michael Hengartner, President of swissuniversities, a positive decision would have a tremendous positive impact for Swiss researchers and enterprises. Swiss organisations were facing difficulties after the EU’s rejection as they were excluded to participate in certain instruments, such as the SME Instrument or the Fast Track to Innovation scheme. Uncertainties have led to limited participation in projects, drops in the coordination of projects by Switzerland, exclusion from expert groups and “big loss of influence in the definition of future scientific policy5”.

Swiss participants are advised to consider the following recommendations when submitting 2016/2017 project proposals.

First of all, proposals should be submitted as if the association agreement will continue to apply beyond 31 December 2016 and Switzerland will become fully associated to Horizon 2020 as of 2017. Meaning, Swiss research organisations are invited to submit project proposals for all calls for 2016/2017 (including PPPs under Art. 187 TFEU) as participants from an Associated Country. Contrary to the current practice, Swiss participants shall request the respective EU funding at the submission of proposal, by providing their full attributable research budget “Budget for the proposal” and “requested EU funding”, in order to receive a grant from the EU budget.

Research and Innovation Actions (RIA) and Coordination and Support Actions (CSA)

Innovation Actions (IA)

Moreover, in Horizon 2020 collaborative projects, a consortium must consist of at least three independent legal entities from at least three EU Member States or Associated Countries. To be on the safe side, it is advisable to involve at least three organisations, in addition to the Swiss partner, to ensure the project’s eligibility, in case Switzerland will not gain status of associated country as of 2017.

With regards to the SME instrument, researchers from Switzerland are advised to submit proposals to the 2017 cut off dates as soon as Switzerland is fully associated to Horizon 2020.

Swiss partners will still be able to coordinate projects whatever the status of Switzerland will be as of 2017.

In the event that Switzerland will not be fully associated, it will gain the status of industrialised third country. Based on this:

  • For Pillar I, Swiss project partners will receive EU funding if the grant agreement is signed before 31 December 2016. For other eventualities, e.g. when a project has been positively evaluated but the grant agreement cannot be signed before the 31 December 2016, the Swiss federal government will strive to find a solution.
  • For Pillars II, III and all sections currently not associated, Swiss partners can continue to participate in collaborative projects, but they will not receive EU funding. In this case, the federal government will take the necessary measures to cover the expenses of the Swiss project partner, as is currently the case.

The official recommendation of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) can be found here: