Covid-19 Research Grants EU Statements
This page was last updated: 30 April 2020
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 might impact the implementation of many EU projects and the preparation of new applications to Horizon 2020 and other EU calls.
European Research Area (ERA) Corona Platform
The European Commission has launched the European Research Area (ERA) Corona Platform on its Funding & Tenders Portal to make information related to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on Horizon 2020 grants available in a single place. It includes a link to the COVID-19 FAQ page, which is updated as new questions arise, and links to other useful resources such as the extended Horizon 2020 deadline dates, and Coronavirus-specific projects, and other useful resources.
The European Commission has extended most forthcoming call deadlines. The situation changes frequently, therefore applicants intending to submit to an upcoming Horizon 2020 call should check the Funding & Tenders Portal if their call deadline has been extended - you can check this under the 'Topic updates' section of your specific call topic or on the extended call deadlines list.
Current grant holders
For projects where COVID-19 is having an impact on the implementation of projects, the project coordinator (or PI for individual grants) should contact their EC project officer to discuss further (this can be done through the communications tab on the project's page on the Funding and Tenders portal). Grant holders should also contact their RES EU contracts manager for further support. Projects are advised to keep full and clear records of the impact of COVID-19.
Claiming costs under Force Majeure
Grant holders of projects affected by the impact of COVID-19 should refer to Article 51 of the Annotated Model Grant Agreement (AMGA) covering force majeure and the Commission's specific FAQ. 'Force majeure' relates to an extraordinary and unforeseeable event or situation that is beyond the beneficiaries control and that prevents them from fulfilling their obligations under the action. If such a situation occurs, beneficiaries must immediately inform the Commission/Agency/Funding Body, which will examine on a case-by-case basis the possible application of the rules on force majeure. Moreover, beneficiaries must immediately take all the necessary steps to limit any damage due to force majeure (e.g. try to cancel the flight ticket, claim the reimbursement from the cancellation insurance (if applicable)).
Costs will be eligible, if they fulfil the general eligibility conditions set out in Article 6 of the AMGA, like any other costs incurred under the action. For example, if a meeting/event cannot take place due to force majeure, travel and accommodation costs may still be charged to the H2020 action if they fulfil the cost eligibility conditions, even if the beneficiary did not travel and did not take part in the meeting/event. If force majeure entails extra costs for the implementation of the action, these costs may be eligible if necessary for the implementation for the action (e.g. a cancelled conference is reorganised at a later stage). However, the maximum grant amount cannot be increased.
Project extensions, suspensions, and start date delays
The Commission will consider no-cost project extensions. As explained in the Commission's dedicated FAQ, beneficiaries may request an amendment for an extension of up to six months of the initial project duration due to the COVID-19 situation. Such requests are expected to be handled 'favourably and in a speedy manner'. Request beyond the six-month period will be granted based on a case-by-case assessment by the project officer.
The Commission will also consider requests for project suspensions if it is not possible to carry out any project work. A suspension means that all activities on the project cease for a limited period e.g. due to force majeure. Since no project activities are taking place during a suspension, any costs incurred during this time become ineligible and cannot be charged against the project. A suspension does not automatically mean that the project will be extended (although beneficiaries often ask for this subsequently) and while the project activities stop for a while, in certain cases, the project could still finish on time.
Postponement of the starting date of the action is possible for grant agreements about to be signed (i.e. in Grant Agreement Preparation stage) or (via an amendment) for grant agreements already signed but where the project has not yet (i.e. a starting date in the future). A starting date fixed later in time will delay the pre-financing payment.
The ERC have posted a statement on their website and they do not currently anticipate any delays to evaluations or application deadlines.
The 2020 Advanced Grant call is expected to open on 14 May with deadline still 26 August 2020 (as per ERC Work Programme timetable), Under the terms of the (Brexit) Withdrawal Agreement, UK-based PIs can apply and, if successful, will be funded for the duration of their project.
The Research Executive Agency (REA) have released a statement and in this have said they will adopt a flexible approach towards projects that fail to meet grant agreement obligations due to the COVID-19 containment measures, and may apply the rules on force majeure, or extend the duration of projects. Projects will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and grantees and fellows should speak to their EC Project Officer if they require support.
The Commission have also developed a specific Coronavirus resources page on the MSCA website. The dedicated resource page will provide up-to-date information related to the COVID-19 crisis to MSCA fellows and project managers.
The MSCA Individual Fellowship call for 2020 is now open with deadline still 09 September 2020. Under the terms of the (Brexit) Withdrawal Agreement, UK-organisations can host incoming fellows and, if successful, projects will be funded for their full duration.
The COST Association has recommended that, from 13 March 2020 to 3 April 2020 (minimum), all physical meetings, training schools and short-term scientific missions be suspended or cancelled. They encourage participants to explore video conferencing and remote networking tools as an alternative. Any participants currently attending COST events should follow the instructions of the host country and host institution. On 18 March, the COST Association announced that the 2020 COST Open Call (OC-2020-1) will be postponed by six months and will now close on Thursday 29 October instead of Wednesday 29 April.
UKRO maintains a COVID-19 and EU funding webpage which is updated regularly and which provides a useful overview of the main messages from the European Commission and other important information (you will require to create a profile to access the webpage).