The message, despite the Commission’s prior promise of clarification at Commissioner level, has only caused misunderstanding and confusion among both domestic organisations and their foreign partners. The NRDI Office therefore contacted the European Commission within a short time, pointing out the problems of interpretation that had already been identified, and proposed clarifications and explanatory additions to the text. The European Commission, also referring to the availability of the “Frequently Asked Questions” on the interpretation of the Council Decision, which correspond to the clarifications requested by the NRDI, did not modify the message.
The purpose of the Commission’s information message is not to exclude or hinder domestic beneficiaries of ongoing projects in the implementation of the project, but merely to draw attention to the fact that third parties concerned by the Council Decision cannot be involved after 15 December 2022 (after which date the beneficiary of an ongoing project cannot enter into an EU funded contract with them).
According to the European Commission’s confirmed interpretation, the purpose of the message is to draw attention to the interpretation already published in March that beneficiaries of ongoing projects, whether national or from other Member States, cannot enter into further legal commitments (subcontracting, service contracts, financial support to third parties) with third parties concerned by the Council Decision after 15 December 2022.
This also means that model-changing universities that participate as beneficiaries in consortia of projects with grant agreements concluded before 16 December 2022 can continue to implement the project, report and reimburse their project costs, and even amend the grant agreement with their participation, which is not blocked by their current status.
Most importantly, the information message cannot be interpreted as meaning that the entities concerned by the Council Decision cannot submit a proposal as beneficiariess within a consortium, as the Commission made it clear in January, and then confirmed in the Frequently Asked Questions, that the Council Decision does not affect the submission of proposals or the evaluation process.
It is important to note that the status within the consortium of Hungarian beneficiaries not covered by the Council Decision is not affected by the Commission’s guidelines; the message only limits the scope of third parties that can be involved by consortium members.
Finally, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that according to the decision of the Hungarian Government, universities excluded from EU funding but participating in Horizon Europe and other EU-funded RDI-relevant funding programmes as associate partners in the implementation of collaborative projects are eligible for substitute funding from a HUF 5 billion budget from the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund. The Ministry of Culture and Innovation will monitor the absorption of the funds in order to ensure that a decision on the increase of the above budget can be taken in time, thus ensuring that the 21 Hungarian universities affected by the restrictive measures can continue to be active participants in Horizon Europe and other EU-funded RDI-relevant funding programmes.
The message sent by the European Commission to coordinators:
Europa / Funding & Tenders Portal notification
This is to inform you that Council Implementing Decision 2022/2506 might directly impact the implementation of your EU grant. This Decision stipulates that legal commitments must not be entered into with any public interest trusts established on the basis of the Hungarian Act IX of 2021 or any entity maintained by such a public interest trust. This applies as of 16 December 2022 for as long as the measures are in place. This means that it is prohibited to enter into legal commitments with such entities involving Union funding. This prohibition applies to the entire chain of Union financing.
As concerns your grant, this means that no further legal commitments involving Union funding can be entered into by you or any other beneficiaries (or affiliated entities) in your grant with third parties concerned by this decision. This concerns legal commitments involving Union funding related to e.g.: the purchase of goods, works or services; subcontracting; financial support to third parties; equipment renting or leasing; personnel seconded against payment. In case that these measures would hinder the implementation of the actions under your grant you must immediately inform the granting authority. In this case please turn to your Project Officer without delay.
Please check also the related list of Frequently Asked Questions. It is progressively updated as soon as further guidance is available. You can find an indicative – non-exhaustive – list of affected entities (i.e. public interest trusts and entities maintained by them) under this link.
Please inform immediately all beneficiaries and affiliated entities in your grant, to ensure that no EU funding goes to concerned Hungarian entities. We will inform you once there is a decision on the end of these measures.
Thank you very much for your help.
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