The coronavirus is affecting all of us and this has led to numerous cancellations of events and meetings all over Europe and globally. This, in turn, has led to a number of questions from North Sea Region projects asking for clarification about how to proceed in specific cases. On this page, you will find up-to-date answers to questions North Sea Region Programme projects on Covid-19 face.
How to submit a question?
Q&A's from projects about the situation will be posted in the field below. If you have a questions that is not answered here please send an e-mail with your question to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your desk advisor at the secretariat. We will do our utmost to respond to your questions as quickly as we can.
- What to do when an event or meeting is cancelled?
Each of the national authorities in the seven countries participating in the North Sea Region Programme monitors the situation carefully and provides advice to the citizens on how to handle the Corona situation. This advice should be taken very seriously. If the authorities advise against travelling in certain areas or holding events, it is of paramount important that this advice is followed by all.
As North Sea Region projects concern participants in all seven countries, it is our advice that the principle of the strictest rules applies: If activities such as travel or events are restricted in one country, the potential costs of cancellation - e.g. plane tickets, hotels, rent of venue - will be regarded as eligible costs in all seven countries.
If cancellation costs are incurred, it is important to document the reasons for cancellation, i.e. advice from the authorities. This should be done e.g. by printing the warning notes or screen dumps of the relevant announcements and keeping this information as part of the audit trail.
Please do not hesitate to contact your Project Advisor in the Secretariat if you have any questions about this.
- Can I shift budget from an physical event to an online event?
When a project needs to shift activities that would have been undertaken in person (such as meetings, conferences, and other events) to an online/virtual platform, it is possible to shift budget from 'travel and accommodation' to, for example, 'external expertise and services' in order to pay for an online service or hire an external expert to run such an event. Please keep in mind that the total project budget must remain the same.
You have to summarise and explain in the 'minor change request' in the 'reasons for change' field which budget shifts you are making and to which activities they correspond, as well as why you are doing this (because of delays, cancellations, travel restrictions, etc. due to coronavirus).
If you are only changing a final conference from 'live' to 'online', for example, you do not necessarily have to change the activity description in the change request. However, in the report covering that activity, please explain such a change in the work package section of the report.
If you are in doubt about what to include in the change request, please consult your project advisor.
- Has the Authorised Signatory designation procedure changed?
Yes, the sending via postal mail part has been adjusted. Please see the revised steps below:
- The Authorised Signatory and the person appointing the Authorised Signatory print out their own versions of the Authorised Signatory designation document.
- Both sign their own versions.
- Both scan their version. It is also fine to take a picture of the documents if no scanner is available.
- The two versions are merged in one file.
- The file is uploaded by the Authorised Signatory in the OMS.
- The Authorised Signatory e-mails their desk officer and Mette Ravn Pedersen to inform them that they have uploaded the documents and that they are waiting to receive the PIN via message in the OMS.
- Once it is possible, the partner should send the two documents to the secretariat in original format in one envelope via postal mail.
- Your desk officer will be responsible for keeping track of the process and registering your documents when they finally arrive via postal mail.
- Is there support for projects that are running out of time?
For projects that are near completion and where only a few additional activities remain outstanding the Monitoring Committee has given permission for the Joint Secretariat to extend the project timeline by 6 months. A ‘COVID-19 lifetime extension’ will only be approved if the project can justify that project activities have been delayed due to the pandemic; for example, due to COVID-19 measures taken on national, regional, local or organisational level that make it impossible to carry out pilots within the original timeframe of the project. As of late 2020/early 2021, a second ‘COVID-19 lifetime extension’ of six months is allowed. However, we urge you to speak to your project advisor if you wish to apply for a second Covid-19 extension, as this option should only be used if absolutely necessary.
If your project is not nearing the end of the project lifetime but needs a 6-month extension, you may wish to apply for a simple six-month extension. This is open to all projects. The programme allows for one such extension per project. You will need to provide a reason and justification for why your activities cannot be carried out as planned.
Projects in need of a lifetime extension should contact their project advisor and discuss the best plan of action.
Having received a COVID-19 lifetime extension(s) or simple project lifetime extension does not exclude a project from applying for an extension under Call 12, nor is it a pre-condition for applying in Call 12.
- Is there support for projects that need to shift budget between project beneficiaries?
It is possible to apply for a major change that only incorporates budget shifts. Projects can apply for such a major change, both if the project has already been granted two major changes or has not.
- What to do when I can't access paperwork that I need for reporting?
If any receipts, invoices, timesheets, or other paper copies of paperwork needed to submit your report are inaccessible due to the coronavirus crisis, you may wait to report on the respective budget lines. If this means you cannot submit a report at all during this round, please submit a 'zero claim' with this report. In either case (partial claim or zero claim), please explain in the text box below the expenditure table ('Explanation for no reported expenditure') that this is due to the crisis.
- What to do if we are not sure how our activities will be affected?
It is a good idea to monitor the situation carefully, especially since the situation caused by the coronavirus crisis is changing constantly. Please keep in close contact with your project advisor about the situation and provide updates along the way. If a project lifetime extension is necessary and agreed on by the partners, it will be granted as long as you can provide sound reasoning and justification for it. While we cannot grant projects additional funds at this time, we are striving to be as supportive and flexible as we can. You could apply, for example, to shift budget between beneficiaries in order to continue with or finish certain activities.
The bottom line? Please keep your project advisor in the loop about the difficulties you are facing with regard to coronavirus crisis.
- Are additional funds available?
At the moment there is no additional funding available. However, there are other options for dealing with delayed or cancelled project activities. Please see the answers to the other questions, and stay in contact with your project advisor about any adjustments you would like to make to your project's implementation.