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European Social Fund Plus

Simplified cost options

What is it?

Simplified Cost Options (SCOs) are an innovative way of reimbursing grants and repayable assistance under the Cohesion Policy Funds. Instead of reimbursing ‘real costs’, SCOs allow the reimbursement of expenditures according to predefined methods based on process, outputs or results. SCOs can take the form of flat rate financing, standard scales of unit costs, and lump sums.

Why is it useful?

SCOs allow the tracing of co-financed expenditures without the need to provide individual supporting documents.

As such, simplified cost options:

  • significantly reduce the administrative burden for both managing authorities and beneficiaries;
  • allow administrations to shift the focus from collecting and verifying financial documents to achieving policy objectives (i.e. concentrating on achieving concrete outputs and results instead of verification and control of actually incurred costs);
  • simplify the audit trail, thereby reducing the risk of errors and resulting in fewer interruptions/suspensions – and faster reimbursement of expenditures. The European Court of Auditors has not found any errors on transactions using SCOs;  
  • Through this simplified management process, the use of SCOs can facilitate access to ESI Funds for small beneficiaries.

How to do it?

For the 2021-2027 programming period, the rules for using SCOs are laid down in Articles 51-56 and 94 of the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR).

The Guidance document on Simplified Cost Options (SCOs) provides technical guidance on the three types of simplified costs applicable to ESI Funds for the 2014-2020 programming period – including how to develop and use them. The principles set out in this document remain valid for the use of SCOs in the 2021-2027 programming period.