The first Marco Polo programme ran from 2003 to 2006. The second phase covers the period from 2007 to 2013. Attentive to the needs of users and potential users, Marco Polo II is more client-friendly than its predecessor. The legal basis for the first phase of the programme was Regulation 1382/2003 adopted on 22 July 2003. It was replaced on 24 October 2006 by Regulation 1692/2006, which launched Marco Polo II with a significantly modified set of rules. These were updated by Regulation 923/2009 of 16 September 2009 which amended the 2006 legislation by simplifying procedures and raising benefits.
The 2009 Regulation brings in changes which make Marco Polo more attractive to a wider range of potential users. The main changes
Marco Polo is open to EU commercial undertakings whether privately or publicly owned. However, public administrations themselves may not participate. Projects must concern cross-border transport within Europe.
Applications for funding can be submitted by individual enterprises or consortia. Consortia can consist of parent and subsidiaries from the same group.
In addition to EU undertakings, those from the European Economic Area (EEA) - Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein - can participate fully in Marco Polo. So can enterprises in Croatia. These are countries which have concluded special participation agreements. Other "close third countries" can participate as well, but funding will only cover project costs occurring on the territories of EU Member States or the EEA countries and Croatia.
Since March 2008, Marco Polo has been managed by the EU's Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI). It oversees the operational side of the programme and is a contact point for project beneficiaries working on the ground implementing the projects.
Executive agencies have their own legal status enabling them to manage this type of programme.