Cooperation Projects and Brexit: What you need to know

The 2019 call for Cooperation Projects has been announced with a deadline of 11 December 2018. Results will be announced in June 2019. So what does this mean in the context of Brexit? 

So far, UK organisations have showed continued commitment to building these partnerships and applying for funding. In fact, there has been an increase in selected Cooperation Projects with UK partners.  

More broadly, there is significant support for continued collaboration, from the recent Moving Beyond Brexit recommendations to those put forward in 2017 as part of the British Council's Our Shared European Future communique. 

What is the current situation?

  • UK organisations are still fully eligible to apply
  • The UK Government’s ‘Plan A’ for the Brexit agreement is still a transition period where the UK continues to pay into European programmes such as Erasmus+ and Creative Europe until the end of these programmes in 2020
  • You can find our overall Brexit guidance here.

What about the UK clause in the guidelines?

In the 2019 Cooperation Projects call there is a UK-specific clause which reads:

"For British applicants: Please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of Article II.16.3.1(a) of the grant agreement.

The Agency may select proposals from applicants (the project leader and the partners) from non EU countries provided that, on the date of the award decision, agreements have been signed and notified setting out the arrangements for the participation of those countries in the Programme established by the Regulation referred to above. An updated list of countries eligible to participate in Creative Europe (those fulfilling the conditions referred to in Article 8 of Regulation No 1295/2013) and countries that may become eligible in the near future (those that the Commission has started negotiations with) can be found at: https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/creative-europe/library/eligibility-organisat...

Should the project leader fail to comply with the eligibility criteria defined herein under 6.1, the whole application will be deemed as ineligible."

This suggests that projects led or partnered by UK organisations will be assessed like all others, and by the time the results are announced, in June 2019, the UK and European Commission will have to conclude an agreement to ensure the UK’s continued participation in Creative Europe.

What if there’s no deal?

In the case of a no-deal Brexit, projects that are selected and include UK partner organisation should be able to recuperate any lost EU funds using the UK Government’s guarantee. However, it is not clear whether this guarantee can apply to those 2019 Cooperation Projects that are led by UK organisations, since the guarantee will cover only projects selected by the Executive Agency and the UK-specific clause (above) suggests that UK-led projects will be ineligible. We are seeking clarification and will update our guidance accordingly. In the meantime, we recommend that partnerships also consider other European organisations as project leads. If there is an agreement on Creative Europe in early 2019, then the lead could be given back to a UK organisation.

The delivery of the guarantee could happen in a number of ways. We expect that it will replace the EU funding allocation UK organisations would have received under agreement – in effect compensating organisations for the EU funding they would have received as part of their participation in a project, but will no longer be eligible to receive.

If there is no agreement on Creative Europe, that would mean that UK organisations and their costs in projects will be ineligible after the currently expected leave date of 29 March 2019. UK partners would still be able to be part of Cooperation Projects, but would have to change their status to participate as only ‘Third Country’ organisations. Projects can spend just up to 30% of the overall project budget on Third Country costs.

How do you prepare for no deal?

Our usual advice for partnership applications, irrespective of Brexit, still stands:

  • Apply with more than the minimum number of partners. If for any reason a partner should drop out, there will still be enough eligible partner organisations 
  • In the Partnership Agreement, include scenario planning as you usually would. For example: what happens in the case of a partner needing to drop out? Or if a partner is unable to raise their required match funding?
  • Be clear that a ‘no deal’ Brexit is a risk, and that as a partnership you have put plans in place to mitigate this risk.

What happens to UK partners if there’s no deal?

Should a UK partner become ineligible, the activities can still happen if the partners all agree and the UK partner becomes a Third Country partner, as mentioned above. However, all UK costs would need to flow through one of the remaining partners: most likely the lead partner. 

The big difference will be that, as the UK partner will no longer be able to claim staff time as a contribution to the project, these costs would need to be reimbursed by the project through one of the partners - and the government guarantee should be helpful here.

What happens to UK lead partners if there’s no deal?

It’s a little more complicated if the UK partner is the project lead. Technically, as stated in the UK specific clause in the guidelines, the project will become ineligible if there's no deal. We advise projects led by a UK organisation to consider giving the official (paper) lead to one of the partners. The project leadership can always be transferred to a UK organisation if and when the Brexit uncertainties around Creative Europe come to an end. 

Email us for an example of an existing Cooperation Agreement, which you can use to help plan your own agreement. You might also want to refer to a more detailed Cooperation Agreement template used by some Horizon 2020 science, research and innovation projects. (Please consider that they are very detailed as they are typically for multi-million euro projects with many partners where a lot of intellectual property is at stake).

Creative Europe Desk UK remains hopeful that there will be a deal allowing the UK to continue to participate as normal. Whatever happens, we are here to provide advice and support for you and your project partners. Get in touch with us and sign up to our newsletter to keep on top of updates. 

Please note that this guidance is an interpretation of the already published information around Brexit and Creative Europe, and is influenced by our usual advice and good practice around Cooperation Projects. It is updated accordingly, as and when the information changes. 

Image: Far From the Norm partners in Circus250: Diverse, Real, Physical which received €200,000 from Creative Europe (c) Camilla Greenwall