Questions to Project Officers during the RTN Coordinators Meeting
Brussels, September 30th 2004.

The slides from the presentations concerning more general issues will be put to the web page of Cordis. The address of this web page will be known soon.  

1. Questions of general nature:

Is audit obligatory each year or is it on demand from EC ?
If it is obligatory, then for each participant or for the network report only ?
The contract stipulates whether the audit should be undertaken yearly or on a bi-annual basis. For the Cellion network it was agreed that it should be each year. Audits are undertaken by each participant. In case of public bodies the audit can be made by own Inspector with appropriate rights, not involved in the project.

Is declaration of conformity needed 20 days after start of the test period, or after final decision concerning the recruited student ?
It is needed 20 days after the start of employment, regardless of the length of the probation period. Therefore, it is needed already after start of the test period. It should be mentioned that this is a test period, and the length of it.

Administrative help appointed from the management costs: is it obligatory to make time-sheets to record time spent for this job ?
Since the expenses incurred for the management of the contract need to be "additional", these personnel expenses are only eligible if a particular contract has been concluded with an administrator, or an existing part-time contract extended for the management of the contract. So, if the contract with the adminstrative help clearly states the nature of the work, no time sheets are required.

Annual reports and mid-term review: are there some forms explaining how the training, research and financial reports should be prepared ?
Yes, they are in preparation, soon to be found in the web. Apparently, the address will be

Scientific collaboration outside the network and outside Europe: is it possible ?
Yes, if paid from "F" (Research / Training / Transfer of Knowledge) money and justified by the work programme.
Exceptionally, if a meeting concerns organization of work, it can alo be financed from management costs.
Secondments and other travels outside Europe need a written approval from EC (easily to get when going together with the student or if shown that the visit is needed for tutoring purpose).

Eligible changes in appointments of PhD students or experienced researchers: possible up to 35% of the total program for a given participant without prior approval by the Commission. If larger, written approval from EC is needed. The rule, that at least 65% of the total budget is spent on categories A-E.

Can we transfer not-used money for the next year ?

Can we redistribute money between partners ?
Yes, up to a limit of 35% without approval of the Commission.

Can we redistribute money between different pockets (A-I) ?
Small changes are possible, but always the rule that at least 65% of the total budget must be spent on categories A-E must be fulfilled.

2. Questions concerning the recruited students:

Who is writing Declaration of conformity ?
Authorized person in the institution of each partner. The declaration should be delivered to the EC through the coordinators of the project, within 20 days after start of employment of eligible researcher.

Should we deliver the "career development plan" to the EC ?
No, it should be stored by the participant and coordinator. Every few months the CDP should be updated.

When should we pay the "career allowance" (2000 Euro) for the long-term recruited student ?
Within 6 months after recruitment.

How long the student can be seconded to a new place without changing the work contract ?
Up to 30% of the total period of appointment.

How is "travel money" paid to the student ?
Travel Allowance is paid upon taking up employment and yearly thereafter. It's proportional to number of months of employment (N/12), but the proportionality factor is rounded UP.

The rule that the recruited person cannot reside prior to recruitment in the host country for more than 12 months within the last 3 years: does it apply for the period of studies ?
Unfortunately, yes.

Can the Student be seconded to his own country ?
Exceptionally yes, no longer than 30% of the total period of appointment.

In some countries (France, UK) a person employed for more than 2 years must get redundancy (compensation) money for the unemployment. Can it be paid by the EC ?
No. In France the problem is (or will be) solved by a special status of PhD students, giving them no right for the compensation. Solving the problem in other countries is a responsibility of the appropriate government.

In UK the audit officers require sometimes that the work contract is to be signed by the coordinator. Is it correct ?
No, the total responsibility for the work contract and declaration of conformity is on the authorized person in the participating institution.

What are the consequences of not recruiting in time students ? Can their participation be prolonged after the end of the project ?
NO, it is not permitted, Not used money must be given back to EC or to be redistributed to other partners in time, enabling a use of them by other partners. In any case a rule of a minimum of 65% contribution to budget part A-E must be fulfilled, otherwise the corresponding sum from parts F-I must be returned to EC also.

Maximum length of the EC stipend or work contract for recruited students is 3 years. Often this time is not sufficient to gather materials for the PhD thesis. Can it be prolonged from the EC funds ?
No. EC expects some contribution from the network participants. Prolongation of such stipend from the own money of network participants can be such contribution.

What is the minimum length of the appointment of students (PhD students or post-docs) ?
3 months

Sometimes, especially in case of short employments of the students there is a change from ESR (early stage researcher) to ER (experienced researcher) status and a corresponding change in their salary. Can it be compensated from the EC funds ?
It is expected that it will be compensated from the own money of the network participant or by a corresponding shift from the budget part F-I or by shift between partners or that another partner makes up for the change. For example, if partner A shifts from ESR to ER, partner B could agree to switch from an ER to an ESR.

Is career allowance (2000 Euro) paid on the basis of actual costs or is it a lump sum?
A lump sum.

Participation money for the student (400 Euro monthly) are to be used for his participation and travel costs in conferences and training courses.
However, can it be used for other costs of his participation in the project e.g.:

- For durable equipment ?

- For tutition costs (high especially in UK) ?
No, it is expected that this will be covered from category F, overhead costs (part H) or from the own budget of the participant. A note is currently being prepared by our legal officer to clarify this issue.

- For computers or computing costs ?

- For computer programs ?
No, unless we show that this program is a part of the training, directly connected to the PhD thesis.

- For subscription of the scientific journal ?
No, unless we show, that the journal is directly connected to the PhD thesis and is a part of his training. In both cases (computer programs and subscription) these spending should not reduce possibilities of the student participation in conferences and training courses.

Participation money should be spent according to actual costs (confirmed by bills) ?

Can we transfer not used participation money to other students within the network ?
Yes, to their participation costs.

Can we transfer not used participation money to other parts of the budget ?

3. Questions concerning management costs:

Management costs are money to be used mostly for the cost of audit.
However, can we use it for other purposes, like:

- participation in meetings like kick-off meeting or annual meeting?
Yes, if it is a meeting connected to management, for persons involved in management of the project. Local coordinators (i.e. at the participating institutions) can use their local management money for this purpose.

- For the organization of "hands-on" workshops ?
If it is a practical course for the scientists it should be paid from category F.

- For the costs of visits of external guests ?
Only when the participation of the guest is directly connected with the management of the project. Since this is very unlikely, the answer is rather NO and would not mention this example.

- For the costs of keeping the web-page of the project, e.g. for honorary of person managing the web page ?
Yes, for persons from outside the project. The bill is required and it is not expected that the person involved in the project will give a bill.

- For video-conferences or phone call costs ?
No, this is a part of the overhead money.