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How to obtain a subsidy

The procedure for obtaining a subsidy from the European Structural and Investment Funds includes several basic steps—from creating a project proposal, determining the suitable operational programme for processing and the actual submission of the grant application. The entire process then continues with implementation of the assisted project, which is associated with certain obligations arising from the rules laid down for projects financed from the Structural Funds.

Basic steps associated with applying for a subsidy from EU funds:

1) Creating a detailed project proposal

2) Finding a relevant operational programme and within this program a specific area of intervention for your project proposal

3)  Application submission

4) Application evaluation

5) Project implementation

6) Evaluation and accounting of applications

7) Payment request

8) On-site inspection of the project

9) Project publicity

10)
 
Project sustainability


1) Creating a detailed project proposal

Anyone interested in EU subsidies must first draw up a project proposal, determine an objective and search for a relevant programme as a source of financing.  European funds support a variety of activities to improve living standards and economic competitiveness in weakened regions, invest in relevant areas such as improving the environment, transport accessibility, increasing employment, energy savings, improving the services and functioning of the state administration, education and retraining. They also support disadvantaged people or groups of people and many others. The selected solution should be optimal in terms of time, organisational, technical, legal and financial aspects and should work for a long period of time. 

 

2) Finding a relevant operational programme and within specific area of intervention for your  project proposal.

Detailed information about each programme can be found in the programming document, which clearly specifies not only areas of intervention and the programme's objectives but also lists potential applicants that can apply for aid. All programming documents are available from individual managing authorities.
Projects must have a logical structure and exactly specified goals. Great attention should be paid to the budget and project financing should be well thought. 

 

3) Application submission

The project application is an essential document that will decide whether your efforts to obtain money from the EU Funds will be successful or not. Your guide in creation will be handbooks for applicants and other methodological guidelines prepared by the respective operational programme. Also, consultations with employees of the managing authority or the intermediary body of the operational programme, seminars, conferences, etc. are available. Do not hesitate to ask question in the preparatory stage to make sure you include everything necessary in the project application.
Applications with all prescribed documents and annexes must be submitted by the set date electronically through the monitoring system, specifically its application MS 2014+    .For facilitation and basic understanding of the application, explanatory video tutorials have been prepared to show applicants how to work with the project application submission application.

Application submission is coordinated through Calls for application submission. Each call exactly specifies conditions for application submission, such as what type of the programme's areas of intervention it is intended, timing, definition of eligible beneficiaries, aid intensity, territorial scope, etc. A schedule of calls is published half a year in advance at www.dotaceEU.cz and it is regularly updated.

 

4) Assessment of grant applications

In the approval process, submitted applications are assessed by the managing authority or the intermediary body (an institution charged with some activities of the managing authority). Applications are assessed against assessment and scoring criteria, which are part of the call. Projects with the highest scores are then recommended for approval. Assessment and selection of applications for the 2014–2020 period has seen a great shift towards unification of rules and better transparency of processes not only in the area of assessment of projects. Therefore, the results of the assessment process are communicated not only to the applicants but they are also available publicly. Each successful applicant will then be requested by the ministry in charge of the respective programme to sign a grant contract.
 
 

5) Project implementation

Subsequently, a contract is signed with the beneficiary which sets out in details the conditions for the project implementation. Since the programmes involve public funds, the beneficiary of the grant is bound by a number of obligations already in the contract. 
These include mainly rules for the selection of suppliers, mandatory project publicity, rules for keeping and maintaining project-related documents, etc. For transparency reasons, each beneficiary is also listed in a list of beneficiaries of the grant, which is publicly accessible. After signing the contract, the beneficiary can get to work. If any requirement for any changes to the approved project application arises during project implementation, the beneficiary must inform the managing authority and request approval of the changes. If an implemented project significantly deviates from the contractual conditions, the beneficiary faces the risk of the incurred costs being evaluated as "ineligible" and the grant not being paid.  Public procurement is one of the most difficult phases of the entire process. The rules for all programmes were therefore unified in the programming period 2014–2020 in a single methodological environment, and all managing authorities must comply with binding guidelines for procurement. If you need help with project implementation, take advantage of the offer by managing authorities, which organise regular trainings and seminars to support applicants and beneficiaries not in the area of public procurement. For detailed information see the guide for beneficiaries.

 

6) Evaluating and saccounting

Payments to beneficiaries are based on payment requests submitted by beneficiaries to the managing authority or the intermediary body after the end of a project stage or the entire project. Payments to beneficiaries are made as ex-post payments (subsequent reimbursement of expenditure already incurred by the beneficiary) or ex-ante payments (provision of funds to beneficiaries before project expenditure). The decision on the form of payment is solely at the discretion of the managing authority. When submitting a payment request, the beneficiaries justify the submitted expenditure and document that they meet the conditions of project implementation contained in the Grant Decision. All payment claims must be substantiated by documents showing that the funds were expended effectively, economically, efficiently, transparently and in accordance with the project objectives. Therefore, remember to take photographs, attendance sheets, handover reports, etc., which you will later use to accompany invoices for held trainings and seminars or other expenditure. The managing authority subsequently inspects whether the raised claims for payment of the required amount are justified. If all the documented expenditure is in order (this is called eligible expenditure), it is subsequently reimbursed to the beneficiary. If some expenditure is deemed ineligible, i.e. the beneficiary does not produce the necessary documents, or the produced documents are erroneous (the order does not match the invoice, etc.), the managing authority proceeds to correction and reduces the claimed amount by this correction.
 

 

7) Payment requests

Payments to beneficiaries are based on payment requests submitted by beneficiaries to the managing authority or the intermediary body after the end of a project stage or the entire project. Payments to beneficiaries are made as ex-post payments (subsequent reimbursement of expenditure already incurred by the beneficiary) or ex-ante payments (provision of funds to beneficiaries before project expenditure). The decision on the form of payment is solely at the discretion of the managing authority. When submitting a payment request, the beneficiaries justify the submitted expenditure and document that they meet the conditions of project implementation contained in the Grant Decision. All payment claims must be substantiated by documents showing that the funds were expended effectively, economically, efficiently, transparently and in accordance with the project objectives. Therefore, remember to take photographs, attendance sheets, handover reports, etc., which you will later use to accompany invoices for held trainings and seminars or other expenditure. The managing authority subsequently inspects whether the raised claims for payment of the required amount are justified. If all the documented expenditure is in order (this is called eligible expenditure), it is subsequently reimbursed to the beneficiary. If some expenditure is deemed ineligible, i.e. the beneficiary does not produce the necessary documents, or the produced documents are erroneous (the order does not match the invoice, etc.), the managing authority proceeds to correction and reduces the claimed amount by this correction.

 

8) On-site inspection

In addition to administrative inspection, the beneficiary must also expect an on-site inspection of the project. The inspection team consists either of representatives of the managing authority or the intermediary body, or an external entity is charged with the on-site inspection. Alternatively, the inspection team can be joined by an external expert in a particular area. Controllers will examine the course of the project on the spot at the beneficiary. They check the project documentation, physical condition of project implementation as well as the financial aspect of the projects and more. A report is drawn up after every inspection, which summarizes findings ascertained during the inspection and, where applicable, measures the beneficiary must take to successfully complete the project or to avoid sanctions. On-site inspections should have a preventive effect, to ensure feedback for the beneficiary by the managing authority as to whether the project is being implemented in line with the set objectives. Where applicable, the controller may draw the beneficiary's attention to possible risks. Inspections may be scheduled or random. Inspections usually take place once during the project implementation. To ensure a smooth course of the inspection, beneficiaries must have all documentation in one place, keep originals of documents, take minutes of meetings, keep all correspondence including electronic one, set up processes and competences in the project team, etc. It is also important to communicate, during project implementation, with the managing authority about any changes so that they are not a surprise on the spot.
 

9) Project publicity

 Every beneficiary that received financial assistance from EU funds must inform about such assistance in accordance with the rules for mandatory publicity of a project. Beneficiaries must be aware of that fact that by receiving financing from public funds they must allow for as much transparency of use of such funds as possible. These funds are ultimately intended for the needs of the entire society, not the beneficiary itself, and it is therefore necessary to inform not only the project users but also the widest public where the European Union provides aid through projects. Publicity of projects has its own strict rules, listed in the guides for applicants and beneficiaries. Most often, mandatory publicity of small projects is complied with by posting up an A3 poster in the place of project implementation. In the case of more resource-intensive projects, information must be communicated by exhibiting a large-format banner or a billboard during the project implementation. After its implementation, the interim carriers of information are to be replaced by a plaque.
Information about the project must remain in place at least until the end of the project sustainability period.
In addition to mandatory publicity, beneficiaries may also promote their projects by other means as they deem appropriate. The managing authority can greatly help you with this as part of its own activities such as campaigns, advertisements, TV spots, contests for the public, etc. They will typically need high-quality photographs. Therefore, remember to take high-quality photographic documentation, in particular "before and after" or during events, which cannot be made in retrospective.
 

10) Project sustainability 

Projects do not end on the day of reimbursement of the last payment request—on the contrary. It is now necessary to maintain project results functional even without allocated subsidy. The most common time period for which project functioning must be ensured is five years. For some projects, the sustainability period is shorter, three years. In practice, this means that if, for example, a beneficiary committed to employing five new persons in a project, such jobs must also remain fully occupied in the project sustainability period. In purchasing new production machinery, its maintenance to ensure full performance, etc., must be taken into account. In some cases it is possible to ensure sustainability more easily and using minimal resources, but for some type of projects one must expect greater financial expenditure. Project sustainability should therefore not be underestimated. Specific sustainability rules apply to "soft projects", i.e. projects related to education, retraining, etc. They are set up individually based on the project nature. Throughout the sustainability period, beneficiaries must regularly report on the project sustainability to the managing authority and must carefully keep all project documentation, ensure mandatory publicity and meet the monitoring indicators. If a beneficiary does not ensure sustainability of a project, a sanction will be imposed and in extreme cases the beneficiary may even be required to return a part or the entire subsidy. Sustainability of a project reflects on the quality of preparation of the entire project. Maintaining project outcomes for five years should by a mere condition laid down by a programme. Quality projects continue functioning in principle.
 


 
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