Frequently asked questions - Grants

Frequently asked questions - Grants

ATTENTION: this page is under revision in order to be aligned to the 2013 PRAG,
therefore not all the information contained is applicable for Grants contract signed as of 01.01.2013


-> New approach on co-financing in Grants

A. Launching the process

1. Do the rules on grants apply to grants to the European Union Member States?

Yes, rules for grants to Member States are the same as for all grants.  The only specific provisions for Member States in the field of grants are:  There is no need to verify their financial capacity; there is no need to ask for a bank guarantee; There is a possibility not to ask for audit reports for payments; There is no interest for late payment or reimbursement; They may follow their own procedures for subcontracting.

2. What is a basic act for the purpose of direct award?

It is a Council Regulation or Council Decision, which provides the legal basis for the operation. A grant beneficiary must be expressly mentioned as such in the legal basis in order to receive a grant without a call for proposals on that account. Such mentions are extremely rare in external actions.

3. Can call for proposals documents be translated into the local language(s) of the beneficiary country? 

The guidelines for applicants and application form may be translated into the local language(s) for information purposes, but: -the only authentic version(s) of the guidelines must be the EN/FR/ES/PT published one(s); -proposals must be submitted in (one of) the language(s) in which the call for proposals was published, so the members of the evaluation committee can read them; -all correspondence and the contracts are in the same language(s).

4. What kind of information may be provided to applicants when answering the questions?

Answers to questions must bear on points of clarification to the guidelines for applicants. They may on no account give an appreciation on the eligibility or quality of a proposal. It is forbidden to help a specific applicant fill in his application form or to correct a form. However it is allowed, and advisable when possible, to organise information session(s) open to all potential applicants to explain the content of the call for proposals and the way an application form must be filled in. This information or training sessions may complement the table of questions and answers on the website.

B. Eligibility

1. May the Contracting Authority give a preliminary opinion on the eligibility of an applicant/partner/project on the basis of a short presentation?

In order to ensure an equal treatment of all applicants, the Contracting Authority must not give any opinion on the eligibility, or indeed quality, of a proposal. In addition, to give an advice on the basis of a short presentation which may not accurately reflect the whole situation is likely to lead to confusion or a wrong interpretation. Answers may only bear on a clarification of the guidelines for applicants or the evaluation process, not on a given proposal.

2. Does the rule of nationality apply to all the staff working in the action?

The answer depends on the situation of the staff. If the person is employed by the grant beneficiary (or any partner within a job contract or statutory relation) the nationality of the person is not relevant. On the contrary, if the person is hired for the action within a service contract following the Annex IV of the standard grant contract, this person is subject to the eligibility rules applied to the experts, which are established in the legal basis regulating the grant.

3. Under what conditions can a Swiss NGO be eligible for grants awarded by EuropeAid?

Under revision.

C. Supporting  documents

1. Are the regular audit reports of grant applicants sufficient in order to satisfy the requirements in the Guidelines for applicants?

Regular official audit reports of NGOs or other grant beneficiaries are acceptable for the purpose of the Implementing Rules to the Financial Regulation, as translated into EuropeAid’s standard guidelines for applicants. Indeed, in the annual audit of the accounts, the auditor normally gives an opinion which, beyond the simple certification of the truthfulness and completeness of the accounts, mentions any alarming element likely to affect the financial viability of the audited body. On the contrary, when the auditor’s opinion is not qualified, the European Commission would reasonably presume that the auditor gives a positive assessment of such financial viability on the date of his opinion. The auditor therefore is not expected to pronounce him/herself on the future financial viability of the audited body, which is by definition unknown, but rather to point at any element which would cast doubts on the financial health of such body.

2. In the case entities without legal personality are eligible under a call for proposals, what documents need to be submitted to demonstrate that the representatives of such entities have the capacity to undertake legal obligations and assume financial liability?

As far as possible, the same supporting documents required from a legal entity should be provided by an entity without legal personality.

The capacity to undertake legal obligations on behalf of the applicant may be supported by a letter of the legal representative certifying his capacity to undertake legal obligations on behalf of the organisation in addition to the documents annexed to the Legal Entity File (e.g. a copy of the statutes or equivalent or other document that shows the entity indeed exists).

The financial liability assumed may be examined e.g. through a comparison between the EC contribution and the net assets of the applicant's representatives; through the provision of a declaration on honour that the applicant has the financial capacity to carry out the action and through the provision of the profit and loss account of the applicant.

Following a risk assessment by the Contracting Authority, it may also be considered appropriate to require a pre-financing guarantee or limit the pre-financing amounts foreseen in the general conditions of the grant contract.

3. Do the grant applicants need to provide an exhaustive translation of all the supporting documents submitted?

In centralised management, with the introduction of PADOR, all applicants have to register once and have to upload all supporting documents concerning their status in its original language. If this is not an official language of the European Union, a translation into the language of the procedure must be provided by the applicant. In decentralised management, PADOR is not applicable and the supporting documents (including possible translations) will need to be submitted in paper format.

4. Does the applicant need to open a specific bank account for the contract? What if he cannot?

It is a specific requirement that the funds received from the Commission are clearly identified and segregated from the general account of the Beneficiary so as to ensure clarity in case of audit and that any interest accrued is reflected accurately. It is obviously preferable that a separate bank account is opened specifically for the action. However this is not always feasible but in many countries a sub-account reference within an organisation’s main bank account can be opened.  There may be cases where a new bank account or sub-account cannot be opened. In these cases the applicant must justify why it cannot open either a new account or sub account and provide a clear indication how they intend to maintain a segregation of the funds from the point of reception through to disbursement, and accurately calculate and notify any interest accrued.

5. Does the name of the auditor have to be indicated in the contract before the signature of it?

Yes. It is what enables the Contracting Authority to make sure that the choice of the auditor does not pose any problems. The same is true for the bank account which has to be indicated in the financial identification form before signature of the contract. This information may however be modified afterwards and does not require an addendum, only a written notification.

6. Who provides the name and the address of the auditor?

The auditor is proposed by the grant beneficiary. The signature of the contract by the Contracting Authority amounts to acceptance of the auditor.

D. Contract preparation

1. Can the percentage of EU co-financing vary as a result of corrections of the budget at the stage of contract preparation?

The obviously ineligible costs as well as overestimated costs are not eligible (since they do not comply with the principle of sound financial management, in particular value for money and cost-effectiveness) and must be eliminated from the budget before contract signature. The resulting decrease in the total eligible cost of the action must be reflected in the EU contribution. Therefore, both the absolute amount and the percentage of co-financing indicated in the award decision are to be taken as maxima which cannot be increased only decreased at the stage of contract preparation. Any savings made can be used to finance additional grant(s) under the call for proposals. To read more about making changes to the proposal and the budget, please have a look at section

2. Does the standard grant contract apply when the Beneficiary is a private company or a public body?

Yes. It applies in all cases, except when the Beneficiary is an international organisation who can benefit from the use of the standard contribution agreement with an international organisation (i.e. audit and internal control system, as well as procurement and accounting rules compliant with international standards and article 120 of the EU Financial Regulation). The standard contribution agreement with an international organisation must be used in that case, save where specific agreements prevail.

It must however be stressed that the model financing agreement, and not the standard grant contract, must be used for providing financial support to a beneficiary country.

3. Can you use the standard grant contract for an operating grant?

Yes, the special conditions (SC) and general conditions (GC) can be used. You must however in that case indicate in Article 7.2 SC that Article 14.4 GC does not apply.

4. Is it possible not to refer to the percentage of financing of the Action and to simply indicate the maximum amount of the grant?

No, there is a double ceiling on the EU grant indicated as an amount and a percentage. It is this percentage which makes it possible to calculate the final amount of the grant in the case the actual eligible costs are less than estimated in the contract. It is therefore imperative to indicate it.

5. Can the Description of the Action contain exemptions to the terms of the contract?

No. The Special Conditions (SC) stipulate that the SC and General Conditions (GC) prevail over the other annexes. In case where the General Conditions foresee an exception to the general rule, such exemption must be specified in Article 7 of the Special Conditions.

6. Can you amend the annexes or add some?

Annexes I and III, which are specific to each Action, can be altered as necessary. Annexes II and IV are invariable. Annex V, VI and VII are models to be filled in each case by the Beneficiary. Other annexes are normally not necessary.

7. Under what conditions can one insert additions or exemptions from the General Conditions in Special Conditions article 7?

As approved by the responsible Authorising Officer, and only in specific situations for which the General Conditions are not adapted and such exception would neither be against the general principles governing grants nor against the applicable Financial Regulation and its Implementing rules. The specific character of the situation must be duly justified.

8. What are the obligations of the partners of the Beneficiary?

The contract assimilates the partners to the Beneficiary as far as the implementation of the Action is concerned, and lists the articles of the GC which apply to them accordingly. For example, they also have to keep their supporting documents under the terms of Contract and they are subject at to the same eligibility criteria as the grant beneficiary.

9. How should you understand the rules in article 1 of the general conditions that the grant beneficiary and partners must undertake the "bulk" of the action and that only "a limited portion" may be contracted?

The idea behind this provision of the general conditions is that the grant beneficiary (and, if applicable, its partners) may not act as mere intermediaries. It is expected that they actively implement the activities, which aim to achieve the objectives of the action.
Bulk" and "limited portion" must therefore be assessed in relation to the overall objective of the action. This does not necessarily correspond to the cost of the concerned activity (for example an action where the objective is to improve the health situation,  the building of a medical clinic could represent a big part of the costs of the action, while at the same time being a less important activity towards the overall objective in comparison with other activities).

10. For indirect costs, the Guidelines state that applicants may be asked to justify the percentage before contracting. Will this apply systematically?

That is not the intention. The text was introduced to add clarity to the provision for indirect costs, particularly for applicants. If the contracting authority has some doubts concerning the requested level of indirect cost, it may ask for further explanations. The text was also put there to give security to the applicants, that once the percentage has been agreed, they will not be required to provide any supporting documents later on.

E. Contract-Reporting

1. Is it possible to provide for more than one report per year to be submitted by the Beneficiary?

This has not been considered appropriate in the field of grants managed by EuropeAid. Such a possibility may only be allowed in exceptional and duly justified cases where the Action would require a closer monitoring because of its particular nature (e.g. difficult foreseeable situations, consequence of a risk assessment etc).

2. According to article 15.6 of the general conditions, expenditure verifications are required if the grant is more than EUR 100.000. In this context, does "grant" refer to the amount of the EU contribution or the total costs of the action?

"Grant" refers to the amount of the EU-contribution, since the purpose of the expenditure verification is to protect EU funds. Consequently, a grant of EUR 95.000 where the estimated total costs of the action is EUR 110.000 would not require the submission of an expenditure verification.

F. Prefinancing

1. Are the amounts of the pre-financing instalments in option 2 fixed freely (Article 15.1 GC)?

Yes, according to the specific cash-flow needs of the Action. The only constraint is that the cumulated amount of pre-financing cannot exceed 90% of the amount of the EU contribution.

2. How to change the amounts of the pre-financing instalments when the Beneficiary spends more or less than anticipated?

The amounts indicated in the Special Conditions are forecasts only. The purpose of the pre-financing is to assure a certain level of the cash flow at the disposal for the Grant beneficiary. As a matter of principle the forecasts should be done in a way that it covers the financial needs for the next 12 months; however the Beneficiary is entitled to submit the claim for further pre-financing when necessary. If less than 70% has been spent of the immediately previous payment (and 100% of all older payments) the new payment will be reduced by those unused amounts. The Contracting authority adjusts the further instalment accordingly and pays the requested amount. In any case each payment is subject to a report accompanied in certain cases also by an expenditure verification report.

3. When is a guarantee required for the pre-financing of a grant?

The rules for guarantee are different depending on the beneficiary:

1) As a general rule, a guarantee is obligatory when the pre-financing exceeds two thresholds simultaneously: the pre-financing is more than 60.000 euro and at the same time the pre-financing is more than 80 % of the grant value (Art 182.2 IR).


If you have a pre-financing sum of 100 000 Euro which amounts only to 79% of the total grant, then a guarantee is not obligatory.
Neither in the case in which you pre-finance 89% of the total amount of the grant, but it only amounts to 58 000 Euro of pre-financing.
2) When the beneficiary is an NGO operating in the field of external actions, the financial guarantee is only requested when the pre-financing meets at least, one of the following conditions:

The pre-financing is more than 1 million euro
The pre-financing is more than 90% of the grant  
3) The Authorising Officer responsible may exempt from this financial guarantee obligation:

Public Sector Bodies
Private Law Bodies with a public service mission who have been positively assessed under the 6 pillars assessment,
International Organizations (those included in Article 43 IR )

G. EU Contribution: eligible costs

1. Does the Commission pay for the expenditure verification?

The expenditure verification is an eligible cost of the Action. The Contracting Authority will therefore contribute to cover the cost.

2. Does the Commission pay for the financial guarantee?

The financial guarantee may be an eligible cost of the Action, unless specifically prohibited by the basic act. The Contracting Authority will therefore contribute to cover the cost.

3. To be considered as eligible under Article 14.1 of the General Conditions, the direct costs must have actually been incurred during the implementation period of the Action. When do we consider that costs "have actually been incurred"?

The criterion is the commitment of the funds. Costs are considered committed once there is a legal commitment, such as issuing of a purchase order or the signature of a contract. This must have been done during the implementation period of the action (with the exception of costs relating to final reports, expenditure verification and evaluation). Nonetheless, note that the activities should be carried out within the implementation period of the action in accordance with the contract (art.11 of the General Conditions and art.2 of the special conditions) and that all the other eligibility criteria provided for in art. 14.1 of the general conditions must be respected at the same time. As concerns the payment of costs, note that there are differences between the different versions of the GC. In accordance with the 2008 contract, payment may take place after the implementation period and even after the submission of the final report.

Consequently, payments after the implementation period would therefore typically relate to costs that by their nature would only be paid after the implementation period and possibly after the submission of the final report. This could for example include:

payments for activities carried out toward the end of the implementation period but where payment takes place later, e.g. because of warranty periods;
payments linked to costs for the closure of the action (reports and publications, dissemination of results etc).
In a similar way, contract-award procedure may be initiated before the start of the implementation period, if they are in accordance with Annex IV (procurements by grants beneficiaries in the context of EU external actions aka e3_h3_awardproc_en). Contracts and payments related to these contracts may however not be executed before the start of the implementation period of the Action.

4. Are the living and travel expenses of the staff of the Grant Beneficiary's partners included in the eligible costs under Article 14.2 GC?

Yes. The staffs of the partners taking part in the Action incur eligible costs in the same way as the Grant Beneficiary’s. The living and travel expenses of the staff of the associates of the Action may also be covered.

5. Must the grant beneficiary provide proof of expenditures (restaurant bills, taxi slips…) for travel and subsistence costs of staff taking part in the action?

Travel and subsistence costs are subject to the "eligibility test" of article 14 GC. These costs may be reimbursed on the basis of either actual costs or on the basis of a flat-rate (per diems), whatever is provided for in the budget of the action. In case a flat-rate is used, no supporting documents are required, provided there is sufficient proof that the travel actually took place.

6. When can taxes be considered eligible costs in the budget of the Action?

As a general rule the Beneficiary should apply for tax, and especially VAT, exemption.

According to the Financial Regulation, the value added tax paid, which cannot be refunded to the beneficiary (or, where applicable, its Partners) according to the applicable national legislation, may be considered eligible by the authorising officer responsible.

Two cumulative conditions must be met:

The Beneficiary (or its partners) must be able to show that they cannot reclaim those taxes.
The acceptance of taxes as eligible costs is possible only if it is not excluded by the Special Conditions or by the applicable regulation  for the programme or the Financing Agreement with the Beneficiary country under which the Contract is financed
Some of the regulations governing the EU’s external actions expressly forbid the financing of taxes in beneficiary countries out of EU funds. Therefore when a Beneficiary asks for the reimbursement of taxes it cannot reclaim, the applicable legislation must first be checked to ascertain whether this is allowed.

Notwithstanding, the Beneficiary (or its Partners) will not have to show it cannot reclaim taxes in any of the cases set out in Article 14.7 fo the General Conditions.

7. To what does the percentage of eligible administrative costs apply?

Administrative costs may be claimed by the grant beneficiary, if agreed so in the budget, within the maximum limit of 7% of the direct eligible costs entered in the budget. This is a flat-rate that covers the indirect costs of the action and for which the grant beneficiary does not need to provide supporting documents.  Note that this does not put a limit to the actual administrative costs of a grant beneficiary. If the real costs are higher than 7%, the grant beneficiary may claim them as direct costs on the condition that the required supporting documents can be provided.

8. Exceptional exchange-rate fluctuations: what are the implications of the second paragraph of article 15.9 GC?

This paragraph should be used only exceptionally. The first measure to be taken in the event that this paragraph is invoked is to restructure the project, for example to remove an aspect. Under no circumstances will the amount of the grant be increased.

9. May direct revenue foreseen by the Action be counted as the applicant’s financial contribution?

Expected revenue of the action may be accepted as co-financing. As it is not regarded as emanating from EU-funds,  the co-financing principle is still respected.

Having said that, it is important to point out to the grant beneficiary that action revenues in excess of the total costs not funded by the European Union will be considered as profit.

As such, it will need to be deducted when calculating the final amount of the EU grant (See art 17.3 of the general conditions).

At the same time, should the revenues be less than expected, the grant beneficiary will have to find the missing funds to cover the gap from another source, as the EU amount cannot be increased.

10. What are indirect eligible costs?

Those are costs that cannot be explicitly identifiable as specific costs directly linked to the performance of the action which can be booked to it directly, but which can be identified and justified by the grant beneficiary using his accounting system as having been indirectly incurred in connection with the eligible direct costs of the action. They may not include any category/type of expenditure already covered by the direct eligible costs (no double-financing of costs). The use of a flat-rate (up to 7%) is encouraged since it makes management of the grant more efficient, since no supporting documents are required for these costs once agreed in the contract.

Indirect costs does not necessarily equal to overhead costs of the action. Some overhead costs could be presented as direct or indirect costs, depending on the accounting rules of the beneficiary (or its partners) and the possibility to identify them through supporting documents.

11. What and who decides how the budget should be structured, notably if eligible costs should go under the "indirect costs" heading or "direct costs"?

The grant beneficiary decides how to do the budgeting with due respect to the instructions given in the Guidelines to applicants and article 14 of the general conditions, since the action and its results belongs to it. The flat-rate for indirect costs may not be more than 7%. If the grant beneficiary's actual administrative overheads exceed this amount, it may book these costs as direct, on the condition that the required supporting documents can be provided.

H. Contributions in kind

1. What is meant by "contribution in kind" and when can it be accepted?

By contributions in kind we usually mean the provision of goods or services to the grant beneficiary free of charge by a third party. Contributions in kind do not, therefore, involve any expenditure for the beneficiary and are not entered in his accounts.

Consequently, contributions in kind can never appear in the budget of the action as an eligible cost.

Contribution in kind is generally not accepted since it may be difficult to calculate the financial value of such contributions and to assess whether it has effectively been provided.

It may be accepted as co-financing when considered necessary or appropriate (an example where this has been the case is for small grants targeted for community based organisations which have no possibility to provide financial contributions). If the contracting authority intends to accept contributions in kind, it should be indicated in the Guidelines.

2. Is the provision of staff a contribution in kind?

According to the articles 14.2 and 14.5 General Conditions, the cost of staff assigned to the Action is considered as an eligible cost, not a contribution in kind.

3. Can the beneficiary's own equipment be an eligible cost?

When the beneficiary's own equipment is provided for an action, the running cost may be charged as direct costs, but the cost of use is normally considered to be covered within indirect costs.

The costs of use could exceptionally be accepted as direct costs for example when:

It is so accepted by the Contracting Authority because of the concrete situation and type of equipment.
No transfer to final beneficiary or local partner at the end of the action is foreseen: the equipment is not necessary for the sustainability of the project.
Such use is more effective than the purchase of the equipment.
The costs are not higher than the corresponding costs on the local market.
The equipment is in good condition and suitable for the proper implementation of the action.
It does not imply double financing or profit for the beneficiary: the equipment must not have been paid entirely by the EU in a previous project.
The value of the equipment must have a price-tag entered in the beneficiary accounting system.
The costs pass the test for eligible costs.
Depreciation could then be accepted as a direct cost, exclusively for the period when the equipment is used for the action.

I. Modifying contracts

1. Within what limits can the Beneficiary modify the budget unilaterally?

Provided that such change does not affect the purpose of the Action, the grant beneficiary may change between headings within the limit of 15% of the initial amount of all the budget headings concerned (giving and receiving headings). The modifications to the budget made by the Beneficiary under Article 9.2 GC are taken into account in a cumulative way. It is therefore not possible to proceed in this way to several reallocations of 14% each! As soon as the cumulated amount of the changes made by the Beneficiary exceeds 15% of the initial amount of a heading for eligible costs, an amendment is necessary. Within a budget heading, the Beneficiary may reallocate freely the funds between items (including deleting and introducing new items), as long as the main purpose of the action remains the same. In all cases of unilateral change the Beneficiary must inform the Contracting Authority without delay in writing. Initial amount means the amount set out in the contract, or as modified by formal addendum/a. Nevertheless, this method may not be used to amend the administrative costs or the contingency reserve.

What happens if the Beneficiary has modified the budget unilaterally, but has exceeded the 15% limit?

The whole modification should not be rejected. Example: if a beneficiary modifies a budget heading with 18%. The Contracting Authority will accept 15% (as long as the basic purpose of the action has not changed) and reject the other 3%.

2. Can the Beneficiary modify the unit rates provided for in the contract budget?

Yes, the rates indicated in the budget are considered as average rates. If such change alters the total amount foreseen, then the change is subject to the conditions of article 9.2 GC. New unit rates must always meet the definition of eligible costs in Article 14.1 GC (necessary for the implementation of the Action and complying with the principles of sound financial management, in particular value for money and costs/effectiveness).

3. Is a confirmation letter from the Contracting Authority necessary to officialise a change of address, bank account, auditor or budget (within the 15 % limit)?

No. The letter or report sent by the Grant Beneficiary to the Contracting Authority is enough to amend the contract in these limited fields. It is only when the Contracting Authority opposes the change of bank account or of auditor that it may react, and the letter that it then sends to the Grant Beneficiary cancels the change.

4. During the implementation phase the NGO beneficiary of a grant changes its legal status and becomes a profit making body. Should the contract be terminated?

Art 109.2 of the Financial Regulations states: "Grants may not have the purpose or effect of producing a profit for the beneficiary". This article does not make ineligible any profit-making body. The non-profit rule applies for the financed action itself and not  necessarily for the entity. Therefore, the change in the legal status does not automatically imply termination.

However, the Guidelines for concrete call for proposals often establish as eligibility criterion "be non profit making body". In such cases the change of status of the NGO affects the eligibility criteria and as a general rule this would lead to termination.

Nevertheless, while addressing how to proceed with termination and in order to apply sound financial management, it will be necessary to estimate the concrete situation of the action, the activities still to be performed and the effects of termination on the parts already funded by the action. The final decision should be taken by the Authorising Officer with these principles in mind.

J. Procurement

1. Can the grant beneficiary use a humanitarian procurement centre (approved by ECHO) to assist in the procurement of supplies?

Yes indeed, this is foreseen in article 8.4 of annex IV. A recognised humanitarian procurement centre can be freely selected by the Grant Beneficiary from the list of approved humanitarian procurement centres. In this case, the humanitarian procurement centre uses the procedures agreed previously with the Commission (and not necessarily those of annex IV), with the exception of the rules of nationality and origin.

2. Do grant beneficiaries have to apply the procedures and templates of the Practical Guide for subcontracting?

No. They apply instead the rules in annex IV to the standard grant contract, which are less stringent, and with an ex post control from the Commission.

The Practical guide to contract procedures for EU external actions (PRAG) templates may be used, but it is not an obligation

3. Does the Commission publish the calls for tenders launched by grant beneficiaries for the implementation of an action? (annex IV to the standard grant contract)

No. The grant beneficiary manages the action, including any tendering, autonomously, and must publish tenders for its own account. The Commission carries out ex post checks on beneficiaries’ compliance with the applicable procurement rules.

4. According to annex IV of the standard grant contract, we need to provide proof of origin for supplies which unit cost is above €5.000. Does that imply that supplies with a unit cost up to €5000 may originate from any country? 

No, not at all. Rules of origin are subject to the applicable regulation and must be respected from the 1st euro, unless derogation has been granted. However, there is a general exemption to provide supporting documents for the origin, where the unit cost is €5000 or less. It is not considered cost-effective to collect and control certificates of origin with regard to the nature of such purchases (commonly office supplies like pencils etc. where it might be objectively impossible to obtain proper certificates of origin) and in view of the relatively small amounts involved.

K. Sub-granting

1. Is sub-granting always allowed? Are there any specific rules governing this?

It must be specified in the Guidelines if sub-granting is an eligible activity. I can never be the main objective of the action, the max budget per sub-grant is limited to €100.000 per grant contract and €10.000 per recipient. Furthermore, the applicant must give very detailed information in the proposal, e.g. the exhaustive list of activities that may receive a sub-grant and the criteria that will be used to identify the recipients.

L. After the action is finished

1. What are the supporting documents which must be kept by the Grant Beneficiary in case of an inspection?

They must be such as to provide full and clear evidence that the costs of the Action were really incurred by the Grant Beneficiary. A non exhaustive list is provided in Article 16.3 GC. Since the Commission pays for a percentage (specified in article 3.2 SC) of the total eligible costs of the Action rather than for certain specific items in the budget, the same accounting system and supporting documents must be kept for all expenses of the Action. Supporting documents must be kept for at least 7 years after the payment of the balance.

2. The General Conditions, Article 7, establish that "equipment, vehicles and supplies paid for by the Budget for the Action must be transferred". Can the beneficiary sell these goods?

Unless specific provisions have been introduced in the special conditions there is a general obligation to transfer goods financed by the grant to the local partners or recipients. There are two scenarios:

1) If the equipment is sold during the action: It will be treated as a revenue and deducted from the final amount on which base the EU-contribution is calculated.

2) If it is transferred at the end of the action and sold afterwards: Proof of transfer has to be kept. For items of 5.000 or more the proofs of transfer has to be submitted with the final report. For lower amounts the proof is to be kept by the grant beneficiary for any possible control. After the transfer, there are no legal provisions to prevent the new owners from selling the goods.

If there is nobody to transfer the equipment to, it should ideally be regulated in the SC. In such a situation, instead of accepting the full purchase cost, it may be acceptable to allow as direct eligible cost the depreciation costs in accordance with the accounting rules of the beneficiary for the period under which the equipment is in use for the action.


  • The Practical Guide explains contracting procedures for EU external aid contracts financed by the EU general budget (Budget) and the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

    Consult PRAG

  • E-learning course on the Practical Guide. Do you want to know more about EU external action procedures? See our self-learning distance course on contractual procedures.

    e-Learning PRAG

  • e-Calls PROSPECT is the electronic system developed by EuropeAid to facilitate the submission of applications for call for proposals.

    e-Calls PROSPECT

  • Potential Applicant Data Online Registration database contains information on organisations applying for European Commission grants in the field of external assistance.

    e-Calls PADOR

  • Delegated Cooperation, Cooperation with partner countries and with international organisations, Co-financing and Management Modes.

    Consult DEVCO-Companion