The European Commission has published a new article on the FAQ website of the Funding & Tenders Portal, which addresses possible disruptions of the implementation of H2020 projects, additional costs and travel cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commission refers to the possibility of applying Article 51 of the H2020 Model Grant Agreement (MGA), which regulates the case of force majeure. Beneficiaries can rely on it if they are unable to meet their contractual obligations due to unusual and unpredictable events beyond their control. These cases are therefore not considered as a breach of contract. The prerequisite is that the beneficiaries immediately inform the Commission or the Executive Agencies about the disruption of the project. In addition, they must take all necessary steps to keep the damage caused by the disruption low (e.g. timely cancellation of orders or travel).
According to the explanations in the Annotated Model Grant Agreement, additional costs incurred due to force majeure (e.g. costs for the reorganization of an event) should in principle be borne by the beneficiaries. However, the new FAQ article promises a possibility of reimbursement of these costs as long as the maximum grant amount is not exceeded. Such costs must also meet the general requirements for reimbursement and must not have already been reimbursed by any other source. The same applies to costs for trips that cannot take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The possibility of reimbursement of cancellation costs is also confirmed once again by the response of the European Commission to a request of our Austrian colleagues from the FFG, which you can find on their website. It stresses in particular that the beneficiaries must immediately inform the responsible project officer at the Commission or the Executive Agencies who then decide on the application of Article 51 H2020 MGA on a case-by-case basis.
Source : EC & KoWi, 20.3.2020