New administrative routines and procedures

Horizon Europe is largely maintaining the same rules, administrative routines and procedures as under the ongoing programme, Horizon 2020. Below is an overview of the most important financial and administrative changes from Horizon 2020 to Horizon Europe.

Joint standard agreement for all EU-funded programmes

One planned change is related to the goal of creating synergies between Horizon Europe and other EU-funded programmes. For H2020, the EU Commission uses a standard agreement for the contract between the Commission and the participants, the General Model Grant Agreement.

Under the new framework agreement, all EU-funded programmes will use one joint standard agreement, the Corporate Model Grant Agreement. The text of the agreement will be adjusted according to the options available in terms of the programme, calls for proposals and parties to the agreement. The main agreement will be supplemented by various annexes that discuss regulations regarding e.g. intellectual property rights, open access to research results and research integrity.

There is also a plan to introduce a datasheet that compiles important information about the project in one place.  

Work is under way on preparing memos to the model grant agreement as an expression of the EU Commission’s interpretation of the applicable regulations and contracts, and that describe the regulations and requirements in detail.

From hourly to daily rates

Under Horizon Europe, the recording of personnel costs in the accounts will be based on daily rates instead of hourly rates. Personnel costs are calculated on the basis of the number of days spent on the project multiplied by the daily rate. The daily rate is calculated on the basis of the annual payroll and non-wage labour costs for one person divided by 215.

For institutions that use a time registration system as part of their accounting practice, there are two options for converting hours to days:

  1. Use a fixed amount comprising 8 hours per day
  2. Convert the hours on the basis of a standard amount of productive hours per year according to normal accounting practice, provided that the number of hours is not lower than 90% of the total number of workable hours.

The mandatory time sheets will be replaced by monthly declarations showing the number of days in a month spent working on the project.

System and Process Audits

The EU Commission wishes to simplify the auditing practice and will offer relevant actors in Horizon Europe the possibility of selecting a System and Process Audit (SPA). A SPA entails testing the actor’s system and transactions (audit opinion) and performing a risk assessment. The result is an audit report flagging the risk of errors as low, medium or high. Low-risk institutions are less likely to be selected for auditing of individual projects in future.

In addition, changes are planned in relation to the use of third parties that make resources available to project participants, income (receipts), reduction of grants, the possibility of being issued a certificate documenting that the institution’s accounting practice complies with the provisions for use of average personnel costs (Certificate on the Methodology for Unit Costs) and suspension or termination of a project on the part of the EU Commission.

The work of preparing legal guidelines for the implementation of Horizon Europe is still under way. For example, there is still a discussion to be had about the provisions of specific programmes (ERC, MSCA, EIC), intellectual property rights, open access to research results and support in the form of lump sums. The Research Council participates in the Expert Group on the Model Grant Agreements, which assists the EU Commission in the preparation of draft bills and guidance documents.

The Research Council offers courses in e.g. budgeting, project administration, consortium agreements and reporting. The courses will go into the planned changes in detail during the coming year.