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Cooperation Projects and Brexit: What you need to know

The 2020 call for Creative Europe's Cooperation Projects has been announced with a deadline of 27 November 2019. Results are expected to be announced in June 2020. So what does this mean in the context of Brexit? We encourage you to check our Brexit guidance page for the latest updates, and have answered some of the common questions in this post. 

UK organisations have shown continued commitment to building these partnerships and applying for funding: in the 2019 Cooperation Projects results the the UK was the joint-most partnered country, and the UK's strong involvement with these projects has not decreased in the last three years. 

More broadly, there is significant support for continued UK collaboration and participation in future programmes, from the 2018 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 as long as the UK is still a member of the EU
  • If the UK exits the EU with a deal in place, there will be a transition period at least until the end of 2020
  • If there is a ‘no deal’ scenario, the UK’s status changes to a Third Country the day after the leave date
  • You can find our overall Brexit guidance here.

What about the UK clause in the guidelines?

In the 2020 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.17.3.1(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. 

This suggests that UK organisations will be awarded grants only if there is an agreement in place between the UK and the EU regarding 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 2020 Cooperation Projects that are led by UK organisations, since the guarantee will cover only projects selected by the Executive Agency and complying with the UK-specific clause (above). It is likely that UK-led projects will be ineligible unless a specific agreement regarding Creative Europe is made, in a no deal scenario. In the meantime, we recommend that partnerships also consider other European organisations as project leads. If there is an agreement on Creative Europe participation, then the lead could be given back to a UK organisation.

On 4 September 2019 the EU Commission released a communication [PDF] which stated that even in a no deal situation the UK could still make arrangements for continued eligibility of the UK in Creative Europe. 

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 the UK's continued participation in Creative Europe, it would mean that UK organisations and their costs for projects would be ineligible after the currently expected leave date of 31 October 2019, should there be no agreement in place for Creative Europe. UK organisations would however still be able to be part of Cooperation Projects, but would have to change their status to participate as only ‘Third Country’/ Associate Partner organisations. Projects can spend just up to 30% of the overall project budget on Third Country costs, and the Government Guarantee could support UK organisations to continue participating in Cooperation Projects as Associate Partners, if partnerships agree to this.

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 lead to one of the partners. The project leadership can 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. We recommend you regularly check our Brexit guidance page for the latest updates. 

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