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1. What is the South Baltic Cross-border Cooperation Programme?

In formal terms the South Baltic Cross-border Cooperation Programme is the so called multilateral cross-border cooperation programme created on the maritime border between the southern Baltic Sea regions. In practical terms the South Baltic Programme is a completely new cooperation area where cross-border cooperation structures have not been set at a full scale yet.

The overall objective of the South Baltic (SB) programme, which is the new initiative implemented within the framework of the European Territorial Cooperation objective, is to strengthen the sustainable development of the South Baltic area through joint actions increasing its competitiveness and enhancing integration among people and institutions.

The Programme is characterized by the following specific features:

  • Promoting both bilateral and multilateral cooperation;

  • Focus on co-operation over sea rather than over land borders;

  • Unusual fields of cooperation;

  • Cultivating the "cross-border cooperation heritage" in the South Baltic area;

  • Fostering cooperation between regions;

  • Being close to beneficiaries;

  • Welcoming small, but well developed projects;

  • Soft outcomes, exchange and networking as values in itself.

2. What is the eligible co-operation area in the South Baltic Cross-border Cooperation Programme?

The South Baltic Programme covers the coastal territory of five EU Members States, and specifically - the following NUTS III units:

Member State

Core area

Adjacent area (according to the ‘20% eligibility rule')

Denmark

Bornholm

Østsjælland,
Vest-og Sydsjælland

Lithuania

Klaipedos apskritis

Taurages apskritis, Telsiu apskritis

Germany

Bad Doberan, Greifswald, Kreisfreie Stadt, Nordvorpommern, Nordwestmecklenburg,
Ostvorpommern, Rostock, Kreisfreie Stadt,
Rügen, Stralsund, Kreisfreie Stadt, Uecker-Randow, Wismar, Kreisfreie Stadt

 

Poland

Gdański, Koszaliński, Miasto Szczecin, Słupski, Stargardzki, Starogardzki, Szczeciński, Trójmiejski

Elbląski

Sweden

Kalmar län, Skåne län, Blekinge län

Kronobergs län

Some areas listed above are eligible in the Programme under the so-called 20% eligibility rule. This means in practice that the programme may report costs related to the activities incurred on the territory of these areas to the limit of 20% of the ERDF budget. In the SB it is assumed that all costs paid by a partner located in the adjacent area are subject to the 20% eligibility rule (so-called "location of partner principle").

Organisations from outside the EU cannot get direct support from the SB programme. They are not eligible for ERDF co-financing and can therefore not become partners in SB projects. However, eligible project partners from the EU can cover expenditures related to the involvement of regions and organisation from outside the European Union in a project from their ERDF budget. With this regard, cooperation with organisations from Kaliningrad region is especially considered to be highly valuable for the programme. The prerequisite for the eligibility of those costs is, however, that involvement of regions and organisations from outside the EU are essential to reach the project objectives and it is clearly demonstrated that they are for the benefit of the EU territory. Costs related to programme activities carried out outside the European Union are limited to 10% of the ERDF budget of the South Baltic Programme (the so called 10% eligibility rule).

The 10% and 20% eligibility rules are monitored at programme level. Projects are allowed to use funds that are subject to the rule only if the limit of 10% / 20% of total ERDF allocation at programme level is not reached.

As the outcome of the first call for proposals of the Programme, the limit of  20% has been untouched. As regards the 10% rule, contracted projects already spent 28.003,00 EUR on 10% rule. 6.045.562,90 EUR is still available for 10% spending. 

3. What are the topics addressed by Programme?

The Programme consists of two Priority Axis:

I. Economic competitiveness

1.1. Entrepreneurial development

1.2. Integration of higher education and labour markets

1.3. Transport accessibility

II. Attractiveness and common identity

2.1. Management of the Baltic Sea environment

2.2. Energy saving and renewable energy

2.3. Sustainable use of natural and cultural heritage for regional development

2.4. Local community initiatives

For detailed information please see Programme Manual, Chapter 2.

4. How much money is available?

The Programme is co-financed by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The European Union contribution to the SB programme is 60 735 659 EUR. Total budget of the Programme is 75 342 210 EUR. As the result of the first call for proposals, 4 projects were approved amounting to more than 4,5 million EUR (ERDF). 

5. How is the Programme managed?

A joint Steering Committee comprising representatives of all participating countries selects projects and makes funding decisions. A joint Monitoring Committee oversees the use of ERDF funds. A Joint Programme Secretariat, located in Gdansk is responsible for the day to day programme management, and acts as the main contact point. The Polish Ministry of Infrastructure and Development, acting as managing authority, manages the ERDF funds. Regional contact Points (CPs),  established in participating regions in Sweden (the regions of Skane, Blekinge, Kalmar, Kronoberg), Germany (the region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), Lithuania (the region of Klaipeda) and Denmark (the regions of Bornholm and Zeeland),  participate in the project generation process, promote the programme, provide information to potential beneficiaries (including information on procedures and rules concerning control of expenditures) and may also assist the JTS  in the assessment of submitted applications. Contacts of related authorities can be found here

6. What is the general rate of the co-financing?

The co-financing rate from ERDF for Polish, Lithuanian, and German partners will be maximum  at 85% level. Swedish and  Danish partners can receive from the ERDF  up to 75% of the eligible expenditure as a refund of the incurred costs.

7. Who can apply for funding from the South Baltic Cross-border Cooperation Programme?

Potential beneficiaries of the Programme are: 

  • national, regional or local authorities as well as their associations

  • non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

  • schools, universities, other educational organisations and centres

  • research and development institutions

  • entrepreneurship and innovation development support structures, like business incubators, chambers of commerce

  • other public institutions supporting and promoting sustainable development

For more information please consult the Programme Manual, Chapter 4.    

8. How many partners have to be involved in the project?

The minimum project partnership in the South Baltic Programme consists of two partners from two different Member States involved in the programme. Nonetheless, projects are encouraged to create larger partnerships, covering broader geographical areas and grouping adequate institutions for solving the problems tackled upon by a project. In such a partnership, all partners and associated organisations shall cooperate on equal terms.

9. How many calls for project applications were launched/will be launched?

The calls in the South Baltic Programme are going to be open for activities of both priority axes. However, it is possible that in later stages of the Programme implementation the Monitoring Committee  would decide on organizing a target call for relevant priority axis or measures.

The first call for proposals of the South Baltic Programme was held from 26 March 2008 till 30 April 2008. The second call for proposals of the South Baltic Programme was opened on 20 October and 2008 will be closed on 9 January 2009. The third call for proposals is planned from 15 July 2009 to 30 September 2009. The updated information regarding this call will be published on the Programme website.

10. When and where information on the application procedure be found?

Information regarding the opening of call for proposals and all related documents can be found at http://www.southbaltic.eu.

11. How long can a project last?

A project must have a limited lifetime. The project activities shall be completed, objectives met and expected results achieved within the specified duration. The general recommendation for projects in the South Baltic Programme is that their implementation period should last between 24 and 36 months.

12. What are the responsibilities of a Lead Beneficiary?

Among all partners involved in a project, one of them takes the overall responsibility for the project implementation. This is the main role of the Lead Beneficiary who takes full administrative and financial responsibility for the project. The Lead Beneficiary agrees with the other project partners upon preparation of a project on the division of tasks and responsibilities. Such information shall be included in the application form. Only an authorised person representing the organisation of the Lead Beneficiary can sign the project application. The Lead Beneficiary is obliged to sign partnership agreements with the other project partners in order to define the division of labour and financial obligations. For more information please check the Programme Manual, Chapter 4.1.

13. Can one organisation present two projects for the programme acting as Lead Beneficiary?

Formally, one institution can act as Lead Beneficiary for two or more projects in the South Baltic Programme. However, one is advised to consider carefully the capabilities of an institution before taking a decision.

14. Who can act as a first level controller in the South Baltic Programme?

The 1st level control systems vary among the countries that participate in the SB programme. Some countries have set up so-called "centralized systems", in which only a specific body designated by the government is entitled to certify the expenditures of the project partner. Others have chosen "decentralized systems", in which the project partners can choose e.g. private audit companies for this task.  It must be underlined that not all companies may be chosen. As a general rule, no internal controllers can be appointed for the certification of the expenditure, unless specific national regulation state differently. However, the chosen controller must be independent on the project, project activities and without private prejudice to the project owner. More concrete information on who can act as 1st level controller in the individual countries can be found on pp. 84/85 of the Programme Manual. It is furthermore recommended to contact the JTS before choosing the FLC in countries with a decentralised system for further advice on national specifics.

15. It is stated in the manual that the 1st level controller has to be independent from the organization that is a project partner. Does this mean in the case of Poland, where 1st level control is done by the Voivodship administration, that Voivodship administrations and their inferior administrations cannot act as project partners?

No. Polish Voivodship administrations and their inferior administrations can act as project partners in SB Programme projects. In this case, the 1st level controller and the project partner can be part of the same organization. The independence of the controllers are ensured as they are located in strictly separated organizational units, which do not take part in any project implementation.

16. If in the scope of implementation of the project it is possible for given organization that the VAT is recoverable should this information be taken into account while preparing budget?

Yes. If any of the beneficiaries has the possibility to recover its VAT within the scope of the project implementation, such amounts shall be estimated beforehand and deducted from the overall eligible budget.

17. If in the scope of implementation of the project it occurs that my VAT can be recovered shall I inform about it JTS and first level controller and/or report such costs?

If such situation occurs the first level controller and the JTS must be informed about the situation. Recoverable VAT is ineligible and cannot be reported to be reimbursed in any case. The details concerning reporting costs in case VAT is recoverable will be described in the Guidelines for filling in the Progress Report. In case any control finds out that such costs, which could be subject for VAT recovery, were reported, the beneficiary is obliged to pay back these amounts together with interests on terms specified in the Subsidy Contract.

18. Is the sample of the Partnership Agreement published on the website obligatory? Can it be modified ?

The sample Partnership Agreement published on the Programme website http://www.southbaltic.eu/ includes the obligatory minimum information that must be regulated by this document. The sample document may be changed only by adding additional provisions. Please, note that for this call for proposals the updated version is obligatory. Beneficiaries who will use the old version old the document (valid for the 1st call for proposals) will be asked to adjust the partnership to the latest version.

19. How long am I obliged to archive the documents? In the Programme Manual it is stated that documents shall be stored at least until 31 December 2020.

The documents shall be stored at least until 31st December 2020 and according to Art. 90 (1) a) of the General Regulation (Regulation (EC) 1083/2006) during the period of three years after the Programme closure.If the Programme closure will be completed till the 31st December 2017, there will be no need for storing documents any longer, unless any national regulations/provisions or organisation's specific regulations do not state differently. The information about the Programme closure will be published on the Programme website and will be communicated to all contracted beneficiaries.

20. First level control costs are eligible within the Programme. What costs should I assume while preparing the budget?

Only applicants from the Member States where the decentralized first level control system was established are supposed to take first level control costs into consideration while preparing project budgets - this refers to applicants from Germany, Lithuania and Denmark. The costs of first level control includes costs of desk and on-the-spot check. Desk check means the verification of each Progress Report, which must be submitted to the first level controller by the end of each four-month reporting period. On-the-spot check means the control at the premises of the beneficiary. As a general rule, while estimating project budget each applicant shall assume only one on-the-spot check during the project implementation period to be carried out. As there are discrepancies among countries as to the costs of such checks and among controllers, to get the exact information as to the level of these costs, each applicant should contact relevant Contact Point in a given country.

21. Are any amounts deriving from the conversion of the national currency into euro eligible within the South Baltic Programme?

In the South Baltic Programme the exchange rate risk deriving from the conversion of  the national currency into euro is borne by the beneficiary in all cases. The amount deriving from such conversions are not eligible, thus cannot be reported for reimbursement. The exchange rates used for reporting purposes is published by the European Commission (EC) on: http://ec.europa.eu/budget/inforeuro/index.cfm?Language=en. For each reporting period please use the exchange rate set by the EC of the first month of this period. No other exchange rates, as rates used by the banks of the project beneficiaries can be used in the Progress Reports.

22. Is it possible to appeal from the Steering Committee (SC) decision?

In the South Baltic Programme the appeal from the SC decision is not possible. The SC decision is final.

23. In the Programme Manual it is stated that community public procurement rules must be obeyed - what rules are meant?

Each project must be implemented with respect to public procurement rules, both national and community. As to community rules especially following EU Directives must be obeyed:

  1. Directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts.

  2. Directive 2004/17/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 coordinating the procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors.

However, the EU rules in this scope are much broader. To get more information please contact the JTS. When implementing the project, beneficiaries are also obliged to apply the provisions deriving from the document: Commission Interpretative Communication on the Community law applicable to contract awards not or not fully  subject to the provisions of the Public Procurement Directives (2006/C 179/02).

It must be underlined that if the public procurement rules are infringed, some follow up actions will be taken, including among others:

  • deducting the subsidy granted;

  • withholding payments;

  • recovery of funds will be applied.

For more information please see the document Guidelines for determining financial corrections to be made to expenditure co-financed by the Structural Funds or the Cohesion Fund for non-compliance with the rules on public procurement (COCOF 07/0037/02-EN).

For any further questions please contact the Secretariat of the South Baltic Programme southbaltic@southbaltic.eu

24. What are “cross-border investments”?

South Baltic Programme projects may include cross-border investments. Those may be financed from the South Baltic Programme if they contribute to achieving the programme’s objectives and if they fulfil the following criteria:

1.The investment has to be embedded in a broader thematic approach that refers to the project objectives. The project has to demonstrate that it clearly and mainly serves other purposes than financing the investment. In this context, the investment has to be essential for achieving project objectives and to give added-value for achieving the programme objectives.

2.The investment is an essential part of an activity that is innovative at the level of the South Baltic area, i.e. it adds a new quality with regard to the thematic context in which it is implemented.

3.The investments has cross-border character, meaning that it either
- has a pilot character, i.e. that it creates a transferable practical solution (blue-print) through a case study in one area, which is in the further project jointly evaluated by the Partners and prepared for use and implementation in at least one of the other participating country. Projects that include pilot investments are expected to show strong transfer/dissemination activities that ensure the application of the developed solution in other countries and contexts;

- has the character of filling missing links at the level of the South Baltic area, i.e. it follows a cross-border physical or functional link (e.g. transport corridor, tourism route, network), its placement has been analysed from a cross-border perspective and it demonstrates a socio-economic or environmental impact over the national border.

Applicants are encourages to include cross-border investments in their proposals, especially for the 5th Call for Proposals (1 April – 21 May 2010). The thematic measures 1.3. “Transport accessibility”, 2.1. “Management of the Baltic Sea Environment” and 2.2. “Energy saving and renewable energy” appear most appropriate for projects of such kind.

Examples of investments that may be financed within the South Baltic Programme:

Example 1 (“pilot” character):

A project aims at inventing innovative waste water treatment procedures for different countries in the SB area in order to contribute to a better water quality of the Baltic Sea. As part of the project, innovative technical devices shall be developed that can enhance the performance of existing facilities in different countries. The development process is to be facilitated by the creation of pilot investments.

Before defining the technical specification and designing the devices, an international exchange process that includes a best practice survey and expert exchange workshops reveals the international state of the art. According to its results, the devices for the pilot facilities are chosen or designed and put into place at the facilities that have been chosen as pilots. Afterwards, a test run of the changed facility starts. The results are conjointly reviewed by all Partners against the envisaged improvements for the water quality in the South Baltic area. Based on this, recommendations are given for transferring the device to other waste water treatment facilities in the South Baltic area. A handbook, transfer workshops and on-the-spot consultations introduce the project results and the developed devices to other interested municipalities. Agreements with the associations of local authorities in the participating countries ensure that the model solution is further promoted after the project termination.

Example 2 (“missing links” character):

A project aims at enabling intermodal passenger traffic across borders. It should be possible for foot passengers to arrive by public transport to the ferry, to take the ferry for crossing the sea to another country, and continuing the journey with public transport on the other side. In order to close and improve the transport chain, a bus shuttle from the terminal to the train station has to be established in one of the port cities, as no collective public transport is available otherwise. This includes construction work (creation of shelters at the bus stops, signposting, etc.). These investments are considered as cross-border investments “filling missing links” and thus eligible.

Example 3 (“missing links” character):

A project aims to promote exchange between disabled people and their relatives within the South Baltic area. Core activities are cross-border events for the target group, at which they should get treatment according to the latest medical methods, learn more and exchange about the methods and their experiences in joint workshop as well as have the possibility to meet face-to-face with other disabled people and their relatives from other countries. However, the NGOs that run the projects have no adequate facilities that could be used as a venue for such kind of events. They therefore want to upgrade an existing centre for disabled people in a coastal municipality. This involves adding handicapped accessible accommodation facilities and rooms in which latest treatment methods can be demonstrated. New instruments have to be purchased and construction work carried through for this. The building should serve after its conversion as a “South Baltic Competence and Meeting Centre for Disabled” and offer regular international events for disabled people and their relatives also after the project termination in a long term perspective. Such a NGO-driven competence and meeting centre does not exist in the programme area. The investments for upgrading the building, therefore, fill a gap and receive through the thematic context the character of cross-border investments “filling missing links”. Without grading the building, cross-border meetings for disable people and their relatives could not be promoted by the NGOs on the level of the South Baltic Programme within the project life time and afterwards. The investments are therefore eligible.

Examples of investments that may not be financed within the South Baltic Programme:

- Investments in local infrastructure that do not have an innovative feature or help to fill a missing cross-border link;

- Investments, which were designed before the start of the project in a local context and which design is not subject for further development according to the international state of art in an international exchange process;

- Innovative technical solutions that are not evaluated after being used in the project and not actively transferred and disseminated to other potential users by and within the project.

25. Who is the subject for the ex-ante verification of the public procurement in Poland?

Beneficiaries of the projects within the South Baltic Cross-border Co-operation Programme 2007 – 2013 coming from Poland are reminded about the obligation of being subject to the ex-ante control of public procurement documents.
Each beneficiary who aims to carry out the public procurement is obliged to be subject for the ex-ante control by its first level controller (appropriate Voivodeship Office).
The ex-ante verification is carried out before the public procurement takes place (before the procedures have been initiated). The controller verifies among others: the tender bid, the terms of reference, invitation to negotiations or other documents connected with the public procurement procedures.
The documents are verified particularly whether:
- they comply with the Act on public procurement (ustawa Prawo zamówień publicznych), especially as far as the competition aspects are concerned;
- the scope of the tender is in line with the scope of the activities described in the Application Form
- any discriminatory provisions were not included in the bid/terms of reference;
- the criteria for choosing and conducting the public procurement have been defined;
- correct mode/type of public procurement was chosen;
- the guidelines and provisions concerning the information and communication were observed.
The verification by the first level control is expected to be carried out within 7 working days.
It should be underlined that the controller does not bear the responsibility for the public procurement being carried out. It can also happen that further shortcomings may be found at the later stages of the process of public procurement.
However, in case there were objections raised by the controller and the shortcomings were not eliminated by the beneficiary, expenditure can be considered as ineligible.
The ex-ante verification is conducted only for projects for which the Subsidy Contract between the Managing Authority and the Lead Beneficiary was concluded.

For more information about the obligation of being subject to the ex-ante control as far as public procurement is concerned please contact the first level controller.

 

Publication: "Smart transport development in South Baltic" Publication: "Smart tourism development in South Baltic" Publication: "Smart business development in South Baltic" Publication: "Smart environmental solutions in South Baltic"
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