The contract document for each successful project is the Marco Polo grant agreement. It is negotiated and signed by the beneficiary or beneficiaries on the one side and the INEA on behalf of the European Commission on the other. The agreement is based on the applicant's proposal and takes account of comments made by the evaluation committee.
The INEA is responsible for overseeing project implementation, including site visits, as well as the registration, follow-up and audit of freight volumes actually shifted off the road. The INEA's aim is to visit each Marco Polo project at least once a year throughout the grant period. Beneficiaries must submit regular progress reports and a final report to the INEA.
Marco Polo projects are results-driven. The most important of these is the commitment by the company or consortium concerned to shift a specific amount of freight off the road and onto rail or waterborne transport, or to avoid/reduce road transport. The Marco Polo grant is not an unconditional subsidy. If a project does not reach its target in terms of tonne-kilometres shifted, it will not receive the full amount of the grant. By the same token, the purpose of the grant is to bridge the gap between project start-up costs and break-even point during the grant period. Any overall profit made in this period would have to be paid back.
Monitoring and reporting on a regular basis are therefore important for both sides. Frank and open partnership between beneficiaries and the INEA is a given. The grant agreement commits each member of a consortium to full cooperation with the lead company and, where required, directly with INEA. This includes access to project sites.
The INEA and the European Commission have sought to reduce the administrative requirements, without compromising standards and principles. Simplification starts with the contract negotiations and continues through project implementation, reporting and payment schedules. Requirements have been standardised. Beneficiaries must use a software-based tool, the INEA has developed guidelines [75 KB] for the tool. Templates have been developed for reports, financial statements, audit requirements etc.