Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Open call for proposals to address: A) equal participation of women and men in public fora, in leadership positions in politics and in the corporate sector; B) to support public authorities and civil society in relation with the 'New Start to Support Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers' initiative

Topic identifier: REC-RGEN-WWLB-AG-2018
Publication date: 30 January 2018

Types of action: REC-AG REC Action Grant
Opening date:
08 March 2018
Deadline: 19 June 2018 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
Topic Description

Priorities and activities to be co-financed

1. Priorities

A) The aim of the priority is to support projects promoting equality for women and men in public debates, in leadership positions in politics and in the corporate sector.

Women in the EU make up more than half of the population and of the electorate. Equal participation of women and men in public life and in politics is a matter of justice, respect for human rights and good governance. Gender balanced decision-making is also needed to reflect the composition of society, strengthen democracy and add new perspectives into the political debate. However, women continue to be under-represented in decision-making positions in politics at national and European level and progress has been slow and uneven, even if the situation varies greatly between Member States.

Moreover, women continue to be severely under-represented in leadership positions in the corporate sector, even if the economic and business case for gender balance in leadership is well established. Progress has been slow and mostly concentrated in countries that have adopted legislative measures to improve the situation. Supporting of initiatives by stakeholders such as awareness-raising; further development/dissemination of practical tools (European databases of qualified women, training programmes for women candidates, etc.); exchange of good practice and networking between key stakeholders are necessary to complement the Commission's legislative proposal on women on boards and to make further progress on the topic.

Women's voices and expertise are also under-represented in the media and in public debates and when women express themselves in these fora, they are often confronted with stereotypes and sexism. This contributes to further preventing women from participating in public debates.

For this reason, and in continuity with the current practice, activities will be implemented through an open call for proposals addressed to national ministries', NGOs or networks of NGOs, other non-profit organisations, social partners. The call aims to co-fund, inter alia, national/European information, awareness-raising, mentoring and training activities, further developing/dissemination of tools or strategies to support gender balance and networking and testing and exchange of best practice between the relevant stakeholders.

B) The aim of the priority is to support projects aiming at better enforcement of EU law on work-life balance and in particular of protection against dismissal and unfavourable treatment due to pregnancy or parenthood.

Addressing women's underrepresentation in the labour market is the main objective of the Commission's recent initiative on Work-Life Balance for parents and carers, a concrete deliverable of the Pillar, adopted on 27 April 2017, which aims at modernising the current EU legal and policy frameworks for work-life balance. In order to enhance reconciliation between work and private life for men and women, a multifaceted approach is needed. Hence a comprehensive package of measures is included in the Initiative on work life balance for working parents and carers, including a measures to enhance a better share of care responsibilities, the modernisation of family leaves and flexible working arrangements, access to high quality and affordable care responsibilities, measures to tackling financial disincentives for second earners and, last but not least, effective legal protection, for instance in case of dismissal for pregnant workers and workers on and returning from family leaves.

Protection against dismissal and unfavourable treatment is provided under EU law through the Maternity Leave Directive, the Part-time Work Directive, the Gender Equality Directive, the Directive on equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity and the Parental Leave Directive. The protection has been reinforced by the case-law of the European Court of Justice. Unfavourable treatment of women when they become pregnant and for women and men due to take leave is still being reported in many Member States. It is therefore necessary to better inform workers and support them in the exercise of their rights to ensure that they are able to enforce them more effectively at the national level.

The Commission has ordered a legal study on dismissal protection in the countries and will organise, jointly with EQUINET, a capacity building seminar for equality bodies and labour inspectorates. The current call for projects aims to co-fund projects to raise awareness, develop tools and new approaches as well as analytical activities with regard to measures to enhance work-life balance and effective dismissal protection for workers with care responsibilities.

2. Description of the activities

Project activities may include:


  • awareness-raising, communication activities (campaigns, etc);

  • capacity building, mentoring and training programmes for women candidates (and for journalists);

  • seminars and conferences;

  • develop/disseminate practical tools to increase gender balance;

  • exchange of good practice and successful strategies and networking between stakeholders.

Activities should have an impact on equal opportunities for women and men in public life and in particular leadership positions in politics and in the corporate sector.


  • awarness-raising activities, communications campaign aimed at:
    • employers, underlining the economic benefits of unlocking and retaining the talent and experience of pregnant women and new mothers;
    • employers to better know and comply with their legal obligations;
    • employees to better know their rights;
  • testing, developing and disseminating creative approaches to:
    • attract, develop and retain women in the workforce before, during and after pregnancy;
    • facilitate the process to report and raise a complaint when a discriminatory practice occurs (clear complaints procedures, lower financial costs);
    • implement an efficient monitoring (of practices in companies such as recruitment practices and of early conciliation cases);
  • analytical activities such as development of ex ante evaluation, impact assessment of measures aimed at:

    • tackling practices such as employers seeking information about women’s pregnancy, motherhood or plans to have children that could be used to discriminate unlawfully during recruitment or white dismissal;
    • supporting small and medium-sized employers to spread the cost of providing enhanced maternity/parental pay (where they wish to do so) and cover for maternity/paternity/parental leave such as collective insurance schemes.

3. Expected results


  • The relevant actors (governments, political parties, civil society, social partners, corporate sector, media, general public) are sensitized about the under-representation of women in leadership positions in politics at national and EU level and in private and public companies. They are informed on the benefits of balanced participation of women and men in leadership and on successful strategies to improve the situation. Practical tools are made available and used to support businesses and qualified women aspiring for leadership positions;

  • Concrete actions are implemented by stakeholders to increase gender balance in politics at national level and/or at EU level. Sexism is less prevalent in politics and public debates;

  • Concrete actions are implemented by stakeholders to increase gender balance in leadership in the corporate sector. Tools for sensitizing and supporting business and women aspiring for leadership positions to improve the situation are prepared, disseminated and used by relevant stakeholders. The number of women candidates and recruited to leadership positions in the corporate sector is expected to increase.


  • Better enforcement of EU law on work-life balance and in particular of protection against dismissal and unfavourable treatment due to pregnancy or parenthood;

  • Employers are aware of their legal obligations towards pregnant women and parents;

  • Pregnant women and parents are better aware of their rights;

  • Decrease in discriminatory practices due to pregnancy and parenthood.

Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

1. Admissibility requirements

(a)  Applications must be submitted no later than the deadline for submission as indicated on the Participant Portal
(b)  Applications must be submitted in writing using the Electronic Submission System of the Participant Portal
(c)  Applications must be submitted using the standard Submission Form Part A and Part B. They must include all the mandatory information and be accompanied by all the compulsory Annexes
(d)   Applications must be drafted in one of the EU official languages (Note: for reasons of efficiency, the Commission advises Applicants to use English)

2. Eligibility criteria

2.1 List of eligible countries:
The Member States (MS) of the European Union (EU), including their overseas departments, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Proposals from applicants in candidate or associated countries may be selected provided that, on the date of award, agreements have entered into force setting out the arrangements for the participation of those countries in the programme.
Should a candidate or associated country join the programme during the call process, a notification will be posted on the Participant Portal.
2.2        To be eligible, grant applications must comply with all of the following criteria:
(a) applicants and co-applicants must be public entities or private organisations, duly established in one of the countries participating in the Programme, or international organisations. Organisations which are profit-oriented must submit applications in partnership with public entities or private non-profit-oriented organisations;
(b) the project can be transnational or national. Projects with a clear European dimension will be favoured;
(c) the EU grant applied for cannot be lower than € 100 000.
Note: Under the REC and Justice programmes, entities affiliated to a beneficiary are not considered as project participants. Their costs are not eligible.
Note: For British applicants and partners: please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of Article 34 of the grant agreement.  


3.         Exclusion criteria

3.1        Exclusion
Organisations (i.e. applicant and partners) will be excluded from participating in this call for proposals if they are in any of the following situations: 

(a) the applicant is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up procedures, where its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, where it is in an arrangement with creditors, where its business activities are suspended, or where it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under national laws or regulations;

(b) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the law of the country in which it is established, with those of the country in which the authorising officer is located or those of the country of the performance of the contract;

(c) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is guilty of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession to which the applicant belongs, or by having engaged in any wrongful conduct which has an impact on its professional credibility where such conduct denotes wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:
(i) fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of selection criteria or in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision;
(ii) entering into agreement with other applicants with the aim of distorting competition;
(iii) violating intellectual property rights;
(iv) attempting to influence the decision-making process of the Commission during the award procedure;
(v) attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it undue advantages in the award procedure;

(d) it has been established by a final judgment that the applicant is guilty of any of the following:
(i) fraud, within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;
(ii) corruption, as defined in Article 3 of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 May 1997, and in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, as well as corruption as defined in the law of the country where the contracting authority is located, the country in which the applicant is established or the country of the performance of the contract;
(iii) participation in a criminal organisation, as defined in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;
(iv) money laundering or terrorist financing, as defined in Article 1 of Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council;
(v) terrorist-related offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, as defined in Articles 1 and 3 of Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, respectively, or inciting, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit such offences, as referred to in Article 4 of that Decision;
(vi) child labour or other forms of trafficking in human beings as defined in Article 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;

(e) the applicant has shown significant deficiencies in complying with main obligations in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision financed by the Union's budget, which has led to its early termination or to the application of liquidated damages or other contractual penalties, or which has been discovered following checks, audits or investigations by an authorising officer, OLAF or the Court of Auditors;

(f) it has been established by a final judgment or final administrative decision that the applicant has committed an irregularity within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95.

(g) for the situations of grave professional misconduct, fraud, corruption, other criminal offences, significant deficiencies in the performance of the contract or irregularity, the applicant is subject to:
(i) facts established in the context of audits or investigations carried out by the Court of Auditors, OLAF or internal audit, or any other check, audit or control performed under the responsibility of an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body;
(ii) non-final administrative decisions which may include disciplinary measures taken by the competent supervisory body responsible for the verification of the application of standards of professional ethics;
(iii) decisions of the ECB, the EIB, the European Investment Fund or international organisations;
(iv) decisions of the Commission relating to the infringement of the Union's competition rules or of a national competent authority relating to the infringement of Union or national competition law.
(v) decisions of exclusion by an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body.

3.2        Remedial measures

If an applicant declares one of the situations of exclusion listed above (see section 3.1), it should indicate the measures it has taken to remedy the exclusion situation, thus demonstrating its reliability. This may include e.g. technical, organisational and personnel measures to prevent further occurrence, compensation of damage or payment of fines. The relevant documentary evidence which illustrates the remedial measures taken must be provided in annex to the declaration. This does not apply for situations referred in point (d) of section 3.1.

3.3        Rejection from the call for proposals

A grant shall not be awarded to an applicant who:

(a) is in an exclusion situation established in accordance with section 3.1 ;

(b) has misrepresented the information required as a condition for participating in the procedure or has failed to supply that information;

(c) was previously involved in the preparation of calls for proposal documents where this entails a distortion of competition that cannot be remedied otherwise.

Administrative and financial penalties may be imposed on applicants who are guilty of misrepresentation


4.         Selection criteria

4.1        Financial capacity

Applicants and partners must have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the duration of the grant and to participate in its funding. Organisations participating in several projects shall have sufficient financial capacity to implement multiple projects.

The financial capacity shall consist of a financial viability check performed by the Research Executive Agency (REA) and completed by the Commission.

For the purpose of demonstrating its financial capacity, and if the total amount of the grant requested exceeds EUR 60.000, the applicant must provide the most recent closed and signed financial statements of its organisation containing the balance sheet and profit & loss accounts, for the last two closed financial years (a single financial document containing comparative data of the annual accounts of the two years under assessment is acceptable. The same applies to the statutory audit report which may cover the two financial years). In case of an application submitted on behalf of a consortium, the Commission reserves the right to verify every member of the consortium to submit this information, with the exception of public bodies, higher or secondary education establishments and international organisations. If the share of a grant requested by an organisation (applicant or partner) 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. Both financial statements and the audit report must be uploaded in the Beneficiary Register when uploading the application package.

Start-up entities which do not have closed accounts at the date of request for financial assessment are requested to submit prospective financial data for one year only

Recently created entities which have closed annual accounts for one year only will be assessed based on the documents for the sole closed financial year

The REA will assess the organisation’s financial viability by checking that it:

           Has sufficient liquidity - is able to cover its short-term commitments;

           Is financially autonomous;

           Is solvent - capable of covering its medium and long term commitments;

           Is profitable – generating profits, or at least with self-financing capacity 

The REA will then propose to the Commission a ranking of each organisation’s financial viability based on a qualification: insufficient, weak, acceptable or good.

The methodology used by the REA to assess the financial viability may be found at:

The Commission will assess further elements if they are available/relevant such as:

           Auditor’s findings on previous projects,  

           Weak financial viability results from other projects or sources

           Involvement in case of serious administrative errors or fraud

           Pending legal procedures or judicial proceedings for serious administrative errors or fraud

           Due recovery orders

In view of the above, if the Commission considers that the financial capacity is weak, it may request further guarantees or impose risk mitigation measures (e.g. reduced or no pre-financing, bank guarantee covering the amount of pre-financing payment; replacement of the weak organisation), or reject the application in case the Commission considers the financial capacity as insufficient.

4.2        Operational capacity

The applicant and the partners must have sufficient operational and professional capacities to implement the activities for which co-funding is requested. Organisations participating in several projects shall have sufficient operational capacity to implement multiple projects.

For the purpose of demonstrating its operational capacity, the applicant must upload:

- CVs of key staff involved in the project (employed by the applicant and the partners), who must have the necessary education, skills, experience and capacity to carry out the tasks that are assigned to them during the project

- its annual activity report for the last available year. The requirement to provide such a report does not apply to public bodies (i.e. a body governed by public law, e.g. public authorities at local, regional or national level) and universities

Applicants may not be awarded a grant if they fail to demonstrate that they have the capacity, the experience and the expertise necessary for the successful implementation of the proposed activities.


5. Declarations on honour referring to points 2, 3 and 4

The applicant must provide the following declarations on honour by ticking appropriate boxes in Part A of the submission system, some of them on behalf of the partner(s). The applicant has to check with all the partners before clicking those boxes.

1) The coordinator declares to have the explicit consent of all partners on their participation and on the content of this proposal. Or the single applicant confirms the content of this proposal.

2) The information contained in this proposal is correct and complete. None of the actions foreseen in the proposal have started prior to the date of submission of the current application.

3) The coordinator hereby declares that

           he is fully compliant with the exclusion and eligibility criteria set out in the call for proposals/topic, and has the financial and operational capacity to carry out the proposed actions.

           each partner has confirmed that they are fully compliant with the exclusion and eligibility criteria set out in the call for proposal/topic, and they have the financial and operational capacity to carry out the proposed action.

Or the single applicant declares that

           he is fully compliant with the exclusion and eligibility criteria set out in the call for proposal/topic, and has the financial and operational capacity to carry out the proposed actions.


6.  Award criteria

The award criteria are set in order to evaluate the quality of proposals. On the basis of these criteria, grants will be awarded to applications that best address the objectives and priorities of the present call for proposals in a cost-effective manner. Synergies and complementarities with other Union instruments and programmes shall be sought and overlaps and duplications with existing activities avoided.

(a) Relevance to the priorities of the call (25 points):

Relevance of the action and its objectives to the priorities of the call for proposals, as described under each topic notice on the Participant Portal, relevance of the issues addressed by the project, contribution of the proposal to the priorities, and complementarity with other Union activities, avoiding duplication with projects funded by other Union programmes. Every proposed action has to be based on a reliable needs assessment.

(b) Quality of the proposed action (30 points):

Quality shall be assessed in terms of the proposed methodology for implementing the activities; the organisation of work, the allocation of resources and the time schedule; the appropriateness of the envisaged activities.
The evaluation of the project's quality will also asses the strategy for monitoring the project implementation and the identification of risks and the measures to mitigate them; the proposed evaluation, including measures to assess the success of the activities and the indicators to be used; the identification of ethical issues and the proposed action to address them.

(c) European added value of the project (15 points):

The European added value of the project shall be assessed in the light of criteria such as its contribution to the consistent and coherent implementation of Union law and policies and to wide public awareness about the rights deriving from it, its potential to develop mutual trust among Member States and to improve cross-border cooperation, its transnational impact, its contribution to the elaboration and dissemination of best practices or its potential to create practical tools and solutions that address cross-border or Union-wide challenges.

(d) Expected results, dissemination, sustainability and long-term impact (20 points):

How appropriate are the expected results to achieve the objectives of the action? Is there a long-term impact of these results on the target groups and/or the general public? A clear, targeted and appropriate dissemination strategy, which will ensure that the results and/or lessons learnt will reach the target groups and/or the general public? Is sustainability of the activities after the EU funding ensured?

(e) Cost-effectiveness (10 points):

Financial feasibility of the proposed activities by means of a realistic and reasonable budget. Appropriateness of the amount requested in relation to the scale and type of the activities, to the expected results and to the size of the partnership.
As a result of the evaluation carried out against the above award criteria the proposals will be ranked according to the points attained. The list of awarded projects will be established based on the amount of budget available.
Proposals not attaining a score of 18 points for the relevance criterion will not be considered for the award of a grant. Proposals not attaining an overall score of 70 points will not be considered for the award of a grant even in case the available budget is not consumed fully.

7. Timetable

The maximum time for the European Commission to inform all applicants is six months from the final date for the submission of complete proposals as specified in the call. The maximum time to sign grant agreements is within three months from the date of information of the successful applicants.
Those time limits may be exceeded in exceptional cases, in particular for complex actions, if there is a large number of proposals or due to delays attributable to the applicants.

The abstracts of the successful proposals will be published on the relevant topic's page after the signature of their grant agreements.

8. Budget available

The indicative maximum amount earmarked for this call is EUR 3 700 000. The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the available funds.

9. Duration of the projects

The initial duration of the projects should not exceed 24 months. 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 such cases, costs eligible for financing may not have been incurred prior to the date of submission of the grant application.

10. Other practical information

10.1 Co-financing rate

The grant will be defined by applying a maximum co-financing rate of 80% to the eligible costs actually incurred and declared by the beneficiary (ies). The beneficiaries should ensure that the outstanding balance is covered from sources other than the EU budget such as:
- the beneficiary's own resources,
- income generated by the action,
- financial contributions from third parties.

10.2 Flat rate for indirect costs

The flat rate for indirect costs is set at 7%. However, indirect costs may not be claimed at the final payment stage, by beneficiaries/co-beneficiaries receiving operating grants from the EU budget.

10.3 Financial support to third parties

Projects through which the beneficiaries use the budget of the project to award grants to other organisations under their own procedures and authority (financial support to third parties) are not allowed.

10.4 Multi-beneficiary projects

Based on our experience with multi-beneficiary agreements, and to support our aim to co-finance efficient, practical and targeted projects, we encourage the applicants to limit the size of the proposed partnerships to a maximum of 6 organisations (applicant and co-applicants).

11. Financial provisions

Information related to the financial provisions in relation to this topic is available in the Annex on financial provisions (which forms an integral part of the topic conditions) under the below point.


12. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic

13.  Useful information

REC Programme – Annual work plan 2018
REC Programme legal basis
EU Financial Regulation



Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.


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Type of Action REC Action Grant [REC-AG]
Topic Open call for proposals to address: A) equal participation of women and men in public fora, in leadership positions in politics and in the corporate sector; B) to support public authorities and civil society in relation with the 'New Start to Support Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers' initiative - REC-RGEN-WWLB-AG-2018
Guidance on proposal submission: H2020 online manual
IT Guidance: IT help

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H2020 Online Manual - Please use the manual with caution and only for the Participant Portal tools guidance, i.e. Submission service and Beneficiary register, because it is H2020 specific and does not cover the Justice Programme rules. Some aspects of the Justice Programme are different from the provisions of the H2020 programme.