Step 3: Check the financial conditions
Types of grant
The grant may take the following forms:
- mixed actual cost grant:
- reimbursement of eligible costs actually incurred: e.g. the exceptional costs under Key Action 1 mobility actions
- reimbursement on the basis of unit costs, which cover certain specific categories of eligible costs which are clearly identified in advance by reference to an amount per unit: e.g. the individual support under Key Action 1 mobility projects
- lump sums contributions, which cover in global terms all categories of eligible costs which are clearly identified in advance: e.g. the costs under Key Action 2 small scale partnership projects. The lump sum amount must be calculated in accordance with the methodology set out in the lump sum decision1 and using the detailed budget table/calculator provided (if any). If the lump sum calculation is based on estimated project budgets, the estimated budget must comply with the basic eligibility conditions for EU actual cost grants (see art 6 of the general MGA)
- a combination of the above.
The financing mechanism applied under the Erasmus+ Programme in most cases provides grants based on the reimbursement on the basis of unit costs or lump sums. These types of grant help applicants to easily calculate the requested grant amount and facilitate a realistic financial planning of the project.
To know which type of grant is applied to each funding item under each Erasmus+ Action covered by this Guide, please refer to the description of each action in Part B, section “What are the funding rules?”.
Principles applying to EU grants
No EU grant may be awarded retroactively for projects already completed.
An EU grant may be awarded for a project which has already begun only where the applicant can demonstrate, in the project proposal, the need to start the project before the grant agreement has been signed. In such cases, the costs eligible for financing must not have been incurred prior to the date of submission of the grant application.
If the applicant starts implementing the project before the grant agreement is signed, this is done at the risk of the applicant.
For actions managed by the Executive Agency, applicants may submit more than one proposal for different projects under the same call (and be awarded a funding for them). Organisations may participate in several proposals. However, if there are several proposals for very similar projects, only one proposal will be accepted and evaluated; the applicants will be asked to withdraw one of them (or it will be rejected).
Proposals may be changed and re-submitted until the deadline for submission.
For actions managed by the National Agencies, in case of multiple submissions of the same application by the same applicant to different Agencies, all applications will be rejected. Should almost identical or similar applications be submitted by the same or different applicant to the same or different Agencies, they will all be subject to a specific assessment and may all be rejected.
Original content and authorship
All applications for projects and accreditations must contain original content authored by the applicant. Higher education institutions applying for international mobility activities may involve in the drafting of their application their partner HEIs from countries not associated to the programme. No other organisations or external individuals can be paid or otherwise compensated for drafting the application. The National Agency may reject the applicant from the selection process or may terminate an awarded project/accreditation at any time if it determines that these rules have not been complied with.
Each project financed by the EU is entitled to receive only one grant from the EU budget to any one beneficiary. Under no circumstances shall the same costs be financed twice by the Union budget.
To avoid the risk of double-funding, the applicant must indicate the sources and the amounts of any other funding received or applied for in the year, whether for the same project or for any other project, including operating grants. For actions managed by the National Agencies, this will be indicated in the application form. For actions managed by the Executive Agency, this will be checked through the Declaration of Honour.
A grant financed from the Union budget must not have the purpose or effect of producing a profit within the framework of the project carried out by the beneficiary. Profit is defined as surplus calculated at the payment of the balance, of receipts over the eligible costs of the action or work programme, where receipts are limited to the Union grant and the revenue generated by that action or work programme2
The no-profit principle does not apply to grants provided in the form of a unit cost, a lump sum or a flat-rate financing, including scholarships, neither to grant requests that do not exceed 60 000 EUR.
Where a profit is made, the Commission shall be entitled to recover the percentage of the profit corresponding to the Union contribution to the eligible costs actually incurred by the beneficiary in carrying out the action or work.
For the purpose of calculating the profit generated by the grant, co-financing in the form of contributions in kind will not be taken into account.
Furthermore, an EU grant is an incentive to carry out a project which would not be feasible without the EU financial support, and is based on the principle of co-financing. Co-financing implies that the EU grant may not finance the entire costs of the project; the project must be funded by sources of co-financing other than the EU grant (e.g. beneficiary's own resources, income generated by the action, financial contributions from third parties).
When the EU grant is provided in the form of a unit cost, a lump sum or a flat-rate financing – this is the case for most of the Actions covered by this Guide – the principles of no-profit and co-funding are ensured by the Commission for the Action as a whole in advance when it defines the rates or percentages of such units, lump sums and flat-rates. The respect of the no-profit and co-financing principles is generally assumed and therefore, applicants do not have to provide information about sources of funding other than the EU grant, nor they have to justify the costs incurred by the project.
However, the payment of the grant based on the reimbursement on the basis of unit costs, lump sums, or flat-rate financing is without prejudice to the right of access to the beneficiaries’ statutory records. Where a check or audit reveals that the generating event has not occurred (e.g. project activities not realised as approved at application stage, participants not taking part in the activities, etc.) and an undue payment has been made to the beneficiary on a grant based on the reimbursement on the basis of contribution to unit costs, lump sums, or flat-rate financing, the National or Executive Agency shall be entitled to recover up to the amount of the grant. Similarly, if the activities undertaken or the outputs produced are not implemented or are implemented poorly (including failure to comply with a contractual obligation), the grant may be reduced, taking into account the extent to which the action has been completed. In addition, for statistical and monitoring purposes the European Commission may carry out surveys on samples of beneficiaries aimed at quantifying the actual costs incurred in projects funded based on the reimbursement on the basis of contribution to unit costs, lump sums, or flat-rate financing.
Eligible and ineligible costs and contributions applying to mixed actual costs grants
In order to be eligible, costs and contribution must meet the eligibility conditions set below3 .
Eligible costs - general conditions
For actual costs:
- they must be actually incurred by the beneficiary;
- they must be incurred during the duration of the project, with the exception of costs relating to final reports and audit certificates, which may be incurred afterwards;
- they must be indicated in the estimated budget of the project;
- they must be necessary for the implementation of the project which is the subject of the grant;
- they must be identifiable and verifiable, in particular being recorded in the accounting records of the beneficiary and determined according to the applicable accounting standards of the country where the beneficiary is established and according to the usual cost accounting practices of the beneficiary;
- they must comply with the requirements of applicable tax and social legislation;
- they are reasonable, justified, and comply with the principle of sound financial management, in particular regarding economy and efficiency.
For unit costs and contributions:
- they must be declared under one of the budget categories set out in the estimated budget of the project;
- the units must:
- be actually used or produced by the beneficiary in the period of implementation;
- be necessary for the implementation of the action and
- the number of units must be identifiable and verifiable and, when necessary, supported by records and documentation;
- the units must:
Lump sum contributions:
- they must be declared under one of the activities/work packages set out in the estimated budget of the project;
- the work must be properly implemented by the beneficiary in accordance with the grant agreement;
- the deliverables/outputs must be achieved in the implementation period;
Eligible costs - Specific conditions
Eligible costs may be direct or indirect.
The eligible direct costs for the action are those costs which with due regard to the conditions of eligibility set out above, are identifiable as specific costs directly linked to the performance of the action and which can therefore be booked to it directly.
In addition to the direct eligible costs that will be indicated in the call for proposals the following categories of costs are also considered eligible:
- costs relating to a pre-financing guarantee lodged by the beneficiary of the grant, where that guarantee is required by the National Agency;
- costs relating to certificates on the financial statements and operational verification reports where such certificates or reports are required in support of the requests for payments by the National Agency;
- depreciation costs, provided they are actually incurred by the beneficiary.
The beneficiary's internal accounting and auditing procedures must permit direct reconciliation of the costs and revenue declared in respect of the project with the corresponding accounting statements and supporting documents.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
Value added tax will be considered as an eligible cost only if it is not recoverable under the applicable national VAT legislation4 . The only exception relates to activities or transactions in which states, regional and local government authorities and other public bodies engage as public authorities5 . In addition:
- deductible VAT not actually deducted (due to national conditions or to the carelessness of beneficiaries) is not eligible;
- the VAT Directive does not apply to non EU countries. Organisations from third countries not associated to the Programme can be exempted from taxes (including VAT), duties and charges, if an agreement has been signed between the European Commission and the third country not associated to the Programme where the organisation is established.
Eligible indirect costs
Indirect costs are costs that are not directly linked to the action implementation and therefore cannot be attributed directly to it.
For certain types of projects (for details of the funding rules for Actions, please consult Part B of this Guide) a flat-rate amount not exceeding 7% of the eligible direct costs of the project (except volunteer costs, if any) is eligible under indirect costs, representing the beneficiary's general administrative costs which are not already covered by the eligible direct costs (e.g. electricity or Internet bills, cost for premises, etc.) but which can be regarded as chargeable to the project.
Indirect costs may not include costs entered under another budget category. Indirect costs are not eligible where the beneficiary already receives an operating grant from the Union budget (for example in the framework of the call for proposals on Civil Society Cooperation under the Erasmus+ Programme).
If authorised for a specific action, please take into consideration that volunteers costs are not a classic cost category. There are no costs because volunteers work for free, but they may non-the-less be added to the budget in the form of a pre-fixed unit cost (per volunteer)6 and thus allow you to benefit from the volunteers’ work for the grant (by increasing the amount of reimbursement up to 100% of the normal costs, i.e. cost categories other than volunteers).
For actions managed by the Executive Agency, when calculating your travel accommodation and subsistence costs, please use the unit costs for travel, accommodation and subsistence specified in Commission Decision C(2021) 357 . In addition, please note that SME owners and natural person beneficiaries are eligible by applying the Commission Decision of 20 October 2020 authorising the use of unit costs for the personnel costs of the owners of small and medium-sized enterprises and beneficiaries that are natural persons not receiving a salary for the work carried out by themselves under an action or work programme8 .
In terms of project websites, communication costs for presenting the project on the participants’ websites or social media accounts are eligible.
Financial Support to third Parties is eligible only if foreseen by the Call (Part B of this Programme Guide).
The following costs shall not be considered eligible:
- return on capital and dividends paid by a beneficiary;
- debt and debt service charges;
- provisions for losses or debts;
- interest owed;
- doubtful debts;
- exchange losses;
- costs declared by the beneficiary under another action receiving a grant financed from the Union budget
- excessive or reckless expenditure;
- contributions in kind from third parties;
- in the case of renting or leasing of equipment, the cost of any buy-out option at the end of the lease or rental period;
- costs of opening and operating bank accounts (including costs of transfers from/to the National or Executive Agency charged by the bank of the beneficiary).
- VAT, when it is considered as recoverable under the applicable national VAT legislation (see above paragraph on Value Added Tax);
- in-kind contributions are allowed, but they cannot be declared as costs
Sources of financing
The applicant must indicate in the application form the contribution from sources other than the EU grant. External co-financing may take the form of the beneficiary's own resources, financial contributions from third parties or income generated by the project. If, at the time of the final report and request of payment of the balance, there is evidence that there is a surplus of the income (see section on No-profit and Co-financing) over the eligible costs incurred by the project, the National Agency or Executive Agency is entitled to recover the percentage of the profit corresponding to the Union contribution to the eligible costs actually incurred by the beneficiary to carry out the project. This provision does not apply to projects requesting a grant that does not exceed 60 000 EUR.
Contributions in kind from third parties are not considered as a possible source of co-financing.
- 1 Commission Decision on lump sum -and-unit-cost-decision_erasmus_en.pdf (europa.eu)
To this aim, the receipts are limited to income generated by the project, as well as financial contributions specifically assigned by donors to the financing of eligible costs. The profit (or the loss) as defined above is then the difference between:
- the provisionally accepted amount of the grant and the income generated by the action and
- the eligible costs incurred by the beneficiary.
In addition, whenever a profit is made, it will be recovered. The National Agency or Executive Agency are entitled to recover the percentage of the profit corresponding to the Union contribution to the eligible costs actually incurred by the beneficiary to carry out the action. Further clarifications on the calculation of the profit will be provided for actions for which grants take the form of reimbursement of a specified proportion of eligible costs.
- 3 For actions managed by the Executive Agency, the detailed applicable financial provisions are presented in the Model Grant Agreement published in the Funding and Tender Opportunity Portal
- 4 In the Member States the VAT national legislation translates the VAT Directive 2006/112/EC.
- 5 See article 13(1) of the Directive.
- 6 https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/docs/2021-2027/common/guidance/unit-cost-decision-volunteers_en.pdf
- 7 https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/docs/2021-2027/common/guidance/unit-cost-decision-travel_en.pdf
- 8 https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/docs/2021-2027/common/guidance/unit-cost-decision-sme-owners-natural-persons_en.pdf