Question 1.1: Is it possible to finance in-kind contributions to research infrastructures in other Member States (e.g. contribution to ESFRI) with ESIF? In case it is possible, the Member state sees auditing as a cumbersome and risky exercise.
The derogation established in Article 70(2) CPR(1) allows the implementation of operations outside the programme area (for instance in adjacent regions or in other Member States), but within the Union. Under this derogation, operations can thus be implemented in another territory of the same Member State or even in another Member State, but not outside the Union, provided that the conditions of the article are satisfied. The object/machinery/laboratory equipment located outside the programme area can be supported as long as it respects the following:
- The conditions of Article 70(2) CPR which includes demonstrating that the operation is for the benefit of the programme area, and that overall such investments must not exceed 15% of the ERDF and Cohesion Fund support at the level of priority.
- The provisions of Article 69(1) CPR on contributions in kind and in particular paragraph b on the market value of the in kind contribution and paragraph c on the independent assessment and verification of the value.
In addition, we would draw your attention to Commissioner Hahn's letter of 25/09/2013 on the eligibility of membership fees to RDI institutions like CERN (Ref. Ares(2013)3112468), which explains that they are not eligible for ERDF support. Therefore in kind contributions in lieu of a membership fee would also be considered as not eligible.(1) This provision does not apply to the ESF (see Article 70(4) CPR). For ESF operations implemented outside the programme area, but within the Union, see Article 13(2) ESF Regulation.
The final decision is left to the relevant policy-making bodies at the appropriate territorial level, taking into consideration the institutional structure of the country concerned and the actual responsibilities for the policy processes in terms of both research/innovation strategies and public funding tools. We strongly suggest to register at the most relevant territorial level (NUTS I, II or III) with respect to the mentioned policy processes. The leading department should thus be the one having the responsibilities for the preparation/implementation of innovation strategies and/or the management of funding tools (like the EU Structural Funds). We also recommend that all the main departments involved, as well as major stakeholders, are included in the registration. With regard to the mentioned policy processes, there might be the case, for specific countries, that registration is recommended at both national and regional levels
References:Articles 67(1), 69(1) and 70(2) CPR
Question 1.2: Are there recommendations on how to manage the situation that the result of financial support (the in-kind contribution) will be placed outside the programme area? Even if the rules of the relevant OP were to be adapted to that situation, will also the audit institutions (both at national and European level) be aware of that possibility?
The principle of avoidance of double funding applies fully here.