Basic: EU Resources for Volunteering
Course Code: 0PMV1_EN
Basic: EU Resources for Volunteering
Author/Source: IDP - Lorenzo Costantino, Gulia Costantino
Tags: Introduction to the EU Institutions, 2014-2020 programming period and funding opportunities, Funding programmes for Volunteering, European Project
Starting: 07/08/2015 Ending: 07/08/2017
Introduction to the EU Institutions
D.U. 1.1: European Institutions
Introduction to the European Union
The European Union (EU) is a unique social, economic and political partnership between 28 European countries. The functioning of the EU is regulated by treaties, approved voluntarily and democratically by all Member States. The establishment of the EU under the present name dates back to the Maastricht Treaty of 7 February 1992 (entered into force on 1 November 1993).
The role of the European Commission is to promote the general interest of the EU by proposing and enforcing legislation as well as by managing EU policies and allocating the EU funding.
Moreover the European Commission implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
The European Commission is led by the Commission President who works together with a team of Commissioners and is divided into departments known as Directorates-General (DGs) each responsible for a specific policy area and for the management of the European funding programmes under their competence.
Council of the European Union
The European Parliament is the only directly elected EU institution with legislative, supervisory, and budgetary responsibilities. The European Parliament represents the interests of European citizens. It is composed of 751 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) elected by the European citizens every five years. The number of MPs elected from each Member State is defined as a fixed amount, according to the countries’ population.
In the context of the European funding programmes, the Parliament plays a key role especially in the definition phase of the European funding programmes.
The Council of the European Union represents the interests of the Member States balancing the other two institutions, European Commission and European Parliament.
In the Council of the European Union, also known as the Council of Ministers, government ministries from each Member State meet to discuss and coordinate policies. The Council of the European Union exercises the legislative function together with the European Parliament, adopting the legislation proposed by the European Commission in the different sectors.
Not to be confused with the European Council (quarterly summits where EU leaders set up the EU policies directions) and with the Council of Europe, which is not a European institution at all.
European Council: defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union and is composed by the heads of state or government of EU countries, the European Commission President and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy. It usually meets two times per semester but the President can convene additional meetings to address urgent issues.
Other EU institutions:
• Court of Justice of the EU upholds the rule of European law(http://europa.eu/about-eu/institutions-bodies/index_en.htm)
• Court of Auditors checks the financing of the EU´s activities
• European Central Bank is responsible for European monetary policy
• European Economic and Social Committee represents civil society, employers and employees
• Committee of the Regions represents regional and local authorities
• European Investment Bank finances EU investment projects and helps small businesses through the European Investment Fund
2014-2020 programming period and funding opportunities
D.U. 2.1: 2014-2020 programming period
Europe 2020 Strategy
The annual budget of the European Union
“Europe 2020” is the European Union’s ten-year growth strategy launched in 2010 which identifies three main priorities:
– Smart growth: developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation.
– Sustainable growth: promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy.
– Inclusive growth: fostering a high-employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion.
The EU needs to define where it wants to be by 2020. To this end, the Commission proposes the following EU headline targets:
– 75 % of the population aged 20-64 should be employed.
– 3% of the EU´s GDP should be invested in R&D.
– The "20/20/20" climate/energy targets should be met (including an increase to 30% of emissions reduction if the conditions are right).
– The share of early school leavers should be under 10% and at least 40% of the younger generation should have a tertiary degree.
– 20 million less people should be at risk of poverty.
(Source: European Commission Communication COM (2010) 2020, 3.3.2010 available on the following website http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_en.htm
The 2015 annual budget of the European Union is €145 bn.
The maximum annual amounts is provided by the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The MFF sets out the European Union’s long-term spending priorities in different political fields (“headings”) for a period of usually seven years. It is not to be considered as the European Union budget for seven years but as a framework for financial programming: for the period 2014-2020, the MFF sets a maximum amount of €960 bn for commitment appropriations and €908 bn for payment appropriations.
D.U. 2.2: Introduction to EU funding opportunities
Centralised funds Vs. Structural Funds
EU funding can be divided in two broad categories: Centralised funds and Structural funds.
In Structural funds the relation with the European Commission is mediated by national authorities at central, regional and local level.
In Centralised funds are allocated directly to the final beneficiaries by the Directorates-General in charge of the programme or by delegates agencies at a European level or at a national one.
Structural Funds, together with the Cohesion Fund, form the framework of financing of the European Cohesion Policy, which aims to reduce economic and social disparities between the regions of Europe. The budget is not evenly distributed across Europe, but assigned on the basis of "objectives": before the programming phase, the European territory is divided into objectives, defined on the basis of statistical analysis of socioeconomic data from the various regions.
Main differences are listed in the following table:
D.U. 2.3: Centralised funding programmmes
Management and structure
The policies promoted by the European Union are implemented through a wide range of thematic programmes which provide financial support in the form of grants for specific projects and organisations fostering EU policies and values within and outside the EU (i.e. both in EU Member States and third countries).
Moreover, the aim of the EU funding programmes is also to support jobs, innovation and growth in Europe in line with the Europe 2020 strategy and to enhance collaboration and exchange between EU citizens encouraging the competiveness of the European single market in an international level.
The legislative act establishing a EU funding programme is the Regulation which defines the duration, objectives, sub-programmes (thematic fields, priorities, etc), actions funded and the total budget of the specific funding programme.
The centralised EU funding programmes are directly managed by the European Commission through Directorates-General in charge of the programme, executive agencies or National agencies depending on the programme.
Anyone who wants to get funded has to respond to the public announcement known as “Call for proposals” submitting a project proposal. The “Call for proposals” defines the priorities of the programme for the current year, the eligibility criteria, the deadline for submission of project proposals and the procedure to follow. Usually “Call for proposals” are published one a year depending on the programme. The deadline for submission of proposals indicated in the “Call for proposals” is always mandatory.
Centralised EU funding programmes are usually divided into subprogrammes or priorities each of them funding different activities. It is fundamental to have a clear knowledge of the whole programme and its subprogrammes in order to submit a project proposal to the right field of interest with the final objective of being funded.
Centralised EU programmes fund a percentage of the costs relating to the implementation of a project. This percentage differs from one programme to another and even within the same programme, subprogrammes may provide a different rate of funding.
Another fundamental feature of EU funding programmes is the transnationality criteria, required in most centralised programmes, with few exceptions. According to this criteria programmes provide funding to projects implemented by a consortium of partners from various countries.
The funding of centralised programmes is awarded to proposals that provide the implementation of activities, such as:
- Research, pilot projects, demonstration projects
- Exchanges of experience
- Information, awareness, dissemination of results
- Mobility and exchanges of persons
- Identification, analysis and exploitation of good practices
The Regulation establishing each program outlines and describes what actions will be funded during the reference period under the programme. These descriptions are further detailed in the following supporting documents:
- Work Programme: sets out the programmes’ plans for the 12 months ahead
- Calls for proposals
- Programme Guide for Applicants: aims to provide all information relevant to the application and selection process, as well as to the entire life-cycle of co-financed projects
These are all relevant documents in the practical implementation of the programme. The supporting documents are also crucial for potential applicants in order to submit a project proposal in line with the priorities and with the eligibility criteria.
Funding programmes for Volunteering
D.U. 3.1: Overview of main funding programmes for Volunteering
Centralised programmes for Volunteering
EU funds for external actions
In this section a selection of the centralised programmes related to the volunteering system is provided. The programmes are the following:
• Rights, Equality and Citizenship
• Europe for Citizens
• Erasmus +
• Creative Europe
A fiche dedicated to each programme regarding their main features and objectives is available in the Supporting Material.
Cooperation between the EU and its partners may take the following forms:
• Triangular agreements: with the EU coordinates with third countries its assistance to a country or a region partners
• Administrative cooperation measures
• Contributions to the necessary costs: To establish and manage a public-private-partnership
• Programs to support sectoral policies through which the EU provides support to the sector program of the partner country
• Contributions to the participation of countries in EU programs and agencies
The Heading “Global Europe” covers all external action (´foreign policy´) carried out by the EU such as development assistance or humanitarian aid with the exception of the European Development Fund (EDF) which provides aid for development cooperation with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, as well as overseas countries and territories. As it is not funded from the EU budget but from direct contributions from EU Member States, the EDF does not fall under the Multiannual Financial Framework.
Below the EU instruments and programmes for Cooperation:
– Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II);
– European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI);
– Partnership Instrument for cooperation with third countries (PI);
– Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI);
– Instrument for the Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR);
– Instrument contributing to stability and peace (IcSP).
A fiche dedicated to each EU instrument regarding their main features and objectives is available in the Supporting Material.
European Project Life Cycle
D.U. 4.1: Main steps of European Project Life Cycle
Development and drafting
Project ideas and the related specific actions to be taken are identified and analysed during the identification phase. During this phase you should:
• Obtain complete, comprehensive and updated information on EU funding programmes;
• Monitor regularly the publication of calls for proposals;
• Analyse all the necessary documentation for the preparation of the project;
• Verify the requirements of the programme and eligibility criteria;
• Consider the time needed to prepare a proposal;
• Collect any useful information from EU officials or at the national contact points;
• Elaborate the project idea.
The purpose of the Formulation stage is to confirm the relevance and feasibility of the project idea as proposed in the identification phase.
During this phase a preparation of a detailed project design has to be done, including:
• Management and coordination arrangements;
• Financing plan;
• Cost-benefit analysis;
• Risk management;
• Monitoring, evaluation and audit arrangements.
The project application is submitted to the delegated authority, using the specific form for the progamme of reference. Be aware that each programme and each sub-programme has its dedicated application form. Before submitting check all the documents to be attached to the application form (for example signatures of the partners in the consortium).
The deadline for submitting a project proposal is always definite.
The submission phase is followed by an evaluation period, after which the results are published. External evaluators assess the project proposals in terms of relevance, impact, sustainability and innovation.
The evaluators will analyse:
• Project idea
• Project results
• Technical capacity of the consortium
• Work plan
Management and reporting
The coordinators of the approved proposals are contacted by the managing authority of the programme to determine the financing agreement or the contract establishing the terms of implementation of the approved project and the delivery of the funding.
The purpose of the implementation stage is to:
• Obtain the project results;
• Achieve the specific objectives;
• Contribute to the general objective of the project;
• Management of the resources available;
• Monitor and report on the progress of the project.
The implementation stage of the project cycle is in many ways the most critical, as it is during this stage that planned benefits are delivered. All other stages in the cycle are therefore essentially supportive of this implementation stage.
In the following link you will find interesting supporting material in EU resources for volunteering: