EU-fin is a financial management and financial reporting tool that can be used during all phases of the project life cycle. This article focuses on the proposal and negotiating phases.
When a project is set up and budgeted in the proposal phase, this set-up structure and budgets, including person-months, can be used during the negotiating phase as well as the execution phase. This is important because the Commission closes the EPSS (Electronic Proposal Submission System) after the deadline for submissions has been reached, and the NEF (Negotiation Forms) are closed after the negotiation phase has ended. Modifications in the project set-up and budgets, including person-months, can be done efficiently and effectively.
At the start of the proposal phase, the coordinator defines the project set-up in EU-fin with the aid of our consultants.
The set-up starts by entering the acronym of your project and selecting your project type or instrument. Based on the instrument chosen, for example ‘CP: Collaborative Project’, the relevant activity types will be automatically generated. The reimbursement rates linked to the type of organisation and activity types are fully incorporated in EU-fin, as is the 7% reimbursement of indirect costs relating to coordination and support activities. These reimbursement rates are used in EU-fin to calculate the maximum allowable Community financial contribution for each beneficiary and activity type as part of the A3.1 forms.
As the coordinator you can define your own project periods. Budgets must be drawn up for the whole duration of a project and per period. The A3.1 forms are generated based on the budgets for the whole duration of a project. During the proposal phase the whole duration budget will be the most important.
Each coordinator can add specific expenditures as part of the costs type ‘Other direct costs’ on the A3.1 form. To aid the coordinator and ensure that the A3.1 form contains the correct costs types, the type of expenditures and costs types ‘personnel costs’, ‘subcontracting’ and ‘indirect costs’ specified in the A3.1 form are standard values.
Some information about the beneficiary, such as the type of organisation and indirect cost method, linked to the Commission’s participant identification code, must be entered in EU-fin. Parts of beneficiaries can have their own budgets and the A3.1 and other budget information on beneficiary level can still be generated. The coordinator authorizes (parts of) beneficiaries to budget for the work packages by linking them in EU-fin. The beneficiary menu is created based on these links and the defined periods and type of expenditures.
After the beneficiary menus have been created, the coordinator requests each (parts of) beneficiary to enter their budgets – including person-months – for the work packages in which they participate. The request takes the form of an e-mail generated by EU-fin, which also includes the login information.
The budgets and person-months can be calculated by different scientists, depending on the work package the scientist is participating in. In the future, personnel costs can be calculated based on person-months and rates. Travel and consumables costs can be calculated based on, for example, the number and destinations of trips. Each beneficiary can enter their own indirect costs with the aid of an ‘advise calculation’ of the indirect costs. This advise calculation is generated by EU-fin and is based on the beneficiary’s indirect cost method.
The coordinator can monitor all budgets including person-months entered, check them, have them modified if necessary and approve them. EU-fin includes a report generator and datadumps. Furthermore, when the deadline for submitting the budgets arrives, the periods can be closed, so that nothing can be changed by the beneficiaries. The coordinator can still change figures whether the periods are closed or not.
The coordinator can also enter the requested Community financial contribution per activity type for each (parts of) beneficiary, based on the approved budgets and the maximum allowable Community financial contribution.
Based on the approved whole duration budgets and the requested Community financial contribution, each beneficiary’s A3.1 forms can be automatically generated. In addition all efforts and budget tables are generated as part of the proposal.
The success of your proposal and negotiations with the Commission are greatly enhanced by accurate budgets.
After the proposal has been submitted via EPSS and the Commission invites you for negotiations, you can proceed with the project budgets and project person-months that were entered in EU-fin in the proposal phase.
During the negotiation phase the budgets and Community financial contribution per period are important because the advance payment from the Commission is based on the first 18-months Community financial contribution. Changes to project budgets and project person-months can be done effectively and efficiently. Based on these changes, the updated, final A3.1 forms can be generated and submitted to the Commission with NEF (Negotiation Forms). The Commission closes NEF after the negotiations have ended, and a contract is prepared.
When the execution phase commences, you start with the approved budget and person-months figures in EU-fin. This is very important because all budgets and person-months are reliable and all the beneficiaries are familiar with all the details regarding their budget and person-months because of their involvement from the start of the project.
EU-fin is used as a financial management and reporting tool by both the coordinator and the beneficiary in the execution phase.