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Model of Interaction between a Consortium and the Commission

This section describes the model of interaction that NEF implements between the European Commission and a consortium. It explains that an exchange between the Commission and a consortium is called a NEF Session, and that all NEF Sessions are part of a NEF Exercise.

The Participant Portal's role in the model of interaction can also be found below.

Table of contents:

Sessions and Exercises

When the Commission needs to exchange information with a research consortium, the Commission launches a NEF Exercise. A NEF Exercise is composed of all the exchanges necessary to gather information in relation to a specific event in the lifecycle of a project. These exchanges are called NEF Sessions. The Commission launches as many NEF Sessions as necessary to finalise a NEF Exercise. A NEF Exercise is launched for a Negotiation, an Amendment, or a Periodic Report.


The Commission starts an exercise for a Negotiation. The coordinator is given access to a first session in the exercise to which he is invited to respond and provide information. Then, if the information provided by the coordinator is not sufficient or if the Project Officer would like the coordinator to adjust the information, the Project Officer opens a new session in the scope of the same exercise. This process goes on until the information is sufficient to proceed with the signature of the grant agreement.

Sessions and Exercise workflow

The workflow implemented while working with NEF is always the same, as described in this diagram. The visibility of NEF Sessions and Exercises is described in the next section.

  1. For a negotiation, an amendment or a periodic report, the Project Officer requires information from the consortium; this leads to the creation of a NEF Exercise.
  2. Once the NEF Exercise has been created, the Project Officer creates a first NEF Session
  3. The coordinator accesses the session and performs the requested data entry, with the help of the participant if necessary.
  4. The coordinator submits the session, mentioning that the consortium has performed the data entry.
  5. The Project Officer assesses the data and, if the result of their data assessment is negative, requests a new session.
  6. The Project Officer closes the exercise if the result of their data assessment is positive.

Visibility in the Participant Portal

NEF is accessible from the Participant Portal through links in the "My Projects" tab. Refer to the Participant Portal User Guide for more information.

Even if the workflow is easy to understand, it is important to know when links to NEF (NEF Links) appear in the Participant Portal. Depending on the step in the diagram above, NEF Links will either appear or not, and NEF Information will be read-only or read-write.

The diagram on the left shows that NEF Links are visible from when the Project Officer creates the first session until the Project Officer closes the NEF Exercise. NEF is then accessible in read-write mode until the coordinator submits the session.

The session remains accessible after submission so the coordinator and participants can consult the state of the latest session.

The diagram also shows when the system sends automatic emails. Emails are only sent to coordinators and they contain information on how to send access information from the other participants. The system also notifies the Project Officer that the session was submitted.

I have problems accessing NEF

Issues may be encountered when accessing NEF through the Participant Portal, you can refer to the following troubleshooting guide. All potential issues are listed, with their solution.

Collaborative Work inside the consortium: finalisation

The coordinator may request the help of other partners to complete the information in NEF (mandatory for DG CONNECT (former DG INFSO) Periodic Reports). This raises the problem of coordinating partner contributions before submitting the NEF Session to the Project Officer.

NEF provides a mechanism allowing participants to notify the coordinator once they have finished entering their data. Each partner can set a flag in the application once they have finalised their contribution.

All finalised contributions are flagged in the project page of NEF. This means the coordinator can safely submit the session once all contributions have been finalised. The coordinator can also submit the session even if all partners have not finalised their submissions and coordinators may finalise contributions on behalf of the partners. Coordinators therefore have full control of the contributions.

This facility is provided for the convenience of the consortium but the coordinator remains responsible for the data submitted to the Commission.

The diagram on the right describes this workflow.

In practical terms, as described in this screen-capture, an icon in the consortium composition indicates each partner's contribution status. The icon is managed by the checkbox to the left of the icon. To finalise a contribution, a partner simply has to click on the checkbox.

If a correction is necessary, the relevant partner can rework their contribution. To do so they simply have to click on the checkbox again and the status of the contribution will change accordingly. The coordinator will see the change on their screen.

Specific finalization for Periodic Reporting

Finalization for periodic reporting is different from Negotiation and Amendment: if the status is show at the same location in the main screen the finalization button is available directly under the NEF FormC link.