The Marco Polo budget in 2007-2013 is €450 million. Applications for grants hit a record level in 2009 and 2010. Competition for funds is therefore keen. To put all applicants on an equal footing, requirements are kept simple and procedures are as transparent as possible. Applicants have to reply to an official 'call for proposals' published annually by the European Commission. This document sets out the procedures and criteria to be respected. Grants for all five types of actions are based on the same set of principles, with individual variations.
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The decision to give funding to a project is based on the following basic principles, with variations for each funding area:
Applications must show the need for the subsidy by being loss-making during the subsidy period. But equally, they must show how their project will return a profit from the time the subsidy ends.
The amount of freight shifted
The amount shifted is expressed in tonne-kilometres per year. The minimum threshold is 60 million t/km for modal shifts (13 million t/km in the case of pure inland waterways projects), 30 million t/km for catalyst actions, 200 million t/km for motorways of the sea and 80 million t/km for traffic avoidance. In certain cases, it is possible to measure in m³km (a fixed conversion factor of 4m³/km = 1t/km applies). For traffic avoidance actions, vehicle/kilometres (v/km) can be used. This criterion does not cover common learning actions, where a minimum subsidy threshold of €250 000 applies.
A fixed rate of subsidy
The subsidy rate for all types of projects is €2 per 500 t/km. Traffic avoidance projects can also use a rate of €2 per 25 vehicle/kilometres.
Duration of grant
This is two years in the case of common learning actions, a maximum of three years for modal shifts and three-to-five years for catalyst actions, motorways of the sea and traffic avoidance.
Ceiling for share of eligible costs
The upper limit is 35% for all categories except for common learning actions where it is 50%.
Eligible costs are those necessary to implement the project. They do not include return on capital, debt and debt service charges, or VAT, or costs incurred in non-participating countries.
See the call for proposals for detailed application criteria.