On 23 July, the European Commission released the long-awaited annotated grant agreement, which provides guidance to Horizon Europe applicants. While the first calls under the programme opened at the end of June, after the release of the work programme 2021-2022, the guidance was still missing. This created uncertainties for future beneficiaries notably with regard to the changes introduced in the rules for participation.
The 188-page document, marked as pre-draft, covers the most relevant articles of the Model Grant Agreement, including the sections on staff costs. During the European Research and Innovation Days organised at the end of June, Commission officials mentioned that the full annotated grant agreement would be released in September.
EUA recently highlighted the changes in Horizon Europe. Among the novelties, the use of daily rates has been branded as simplification by the European Commission, although offering different options for beneficiaries would have been more practical. The choice of a “corporate grant agreement”, which forms the basis for all EU funding programmes, limits any possible flexibility. Nevertheless, the document addresses concerns voiced by EUA regarding the recording of staff costs and measures to limit additional administrative burden to universities. Universities should also note that the excellence section of the project evaluation will now include the quality of Open Science practices, including sharing and management of research outputs (with the exception of the European Research Council calls).
EUA will now shift its attention to the quality of implementation, inviting the European Commission to deliver Horizon Europe in the spirit of simplification and performance that has been heralded as the main narrative of the programme.