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Third Country guide for UK organisations participating in Cooperation Projects from 2021

Third Country Participation: Information for UK organisations on participating in new Creative Europe Cooperation Projects after 2021

Following the publication of the Government’s EU negotiation mandate on 27 February 2020, the UK will not participate in the next Creative Europe programme (2021-2027). Under the future programme, the only route that may possibly be open for UK organisations to take part in the Creative Europe Culture sub-programme, specifically Cooperation Projects, would be as a Third Country Participant*.  

n.b. Projects already funded under the current programme (which runs from 2014 - 2020) will continue as normal and receive funding for their full duration under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, including projects that continue after 1 January 2021. So if a project was granted in 2019 for example, the UK partner organisation can continue spending until the end of the project, which could be up until 2023.  


What is a Third Country Participant?   

A ‘Third Country Participant' is a project partner from outside the (currently 41) eligible countries participating in the Creative Europe programme. It is useful to think of Third Country partners as project delivery partners – they will have responsibility for specific parts of the project, but are not full project partners, and won’t have the level of accountability and responsibility as them. These partners don’t have their own budget sheet in the project. This reduced administrative burden can be an advantage, but it also usually means that Third Countries will have less say in the overall project – it is therefore important to be clear about what you can offer as such a partner.


How certain is it that UK organisations will be able to take part this way?

The next Cooperation Projects call will be part of the future programme which is due to be announced under the EU’s next 7 year Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027). Although we have no confirmation, we are working on the assumption that Third Country Participants will continue to be welcome, meaning UK cultural, creative and heritage organisations can be included as part of applications as a Third Country Partner and UK-based activity may be included as part of applications as Third Country costs. This is the way that non-eligible countries have taken part in Creative Europe projects previously. 


What does this mean for my Cooperation Project application & partnership? 

UK organisations will be ineligible to act as Lead or Partner of a project and will only be eligible to take part as a Third Country Partner, similar to Associate Partner status. 

The minimum number of partners in the project (1 lead and 2 others for small scale project, or 1 lead and 5 others for large scale) is limited to including eligible beneficiaries (i.e. not Third Country Participants). Organisations, professionals and activity classified as ‘Third Country’ sit outside this eligible group and therefore can only participate in a project after the minimum number of official partners has been satisfied.  


Can Third Country Participants act in the same way as an organisation from an eligible country? 

Projects can include third country activity, but the value to the overall project must be demonstrated in the application, as well as describing how the delivery of this activity will be managed by one of the full partners. 

The responsibility of tasks such as financial and technical reporting and coordination cannot be allocated to a Third Country Participant (even if the Third Country Participant still carries them out). 

As a Third Country Participant, your organisation would not be listed as a beneficiary in the project grant agreement.  All EACEA communications would be held directly with the lead organisation of your project and the budget and project coordination would be handled by one of the official partners. 


Can Third Country Participants receive the same costs as an organisation from an eligible country? 

Standard project costs are still available to a Third Country Participant i.e. Travel, Accommodation, Venues, Supplies, Catering, Staff time, Freelancers, Artists, etc. However, Associate Partner Costs and any costs paid in relation to a third country are, in the current programme, limited to a maximum of 30% of the overall project budget. Costs in relation to a third country may include, for example, travel or accommodation costs of eligible partners to or within a third country. All direct and indirect costs must be incurred by one of the official partners and reimbursed to the Third Country Participant.  


What should I do now? 

As always, the most important step in the preparation for a Cooperation project is the development of a strong team of partners. We recommend you start these discussions as soon as you can as the 2021 call is expected in Spring/ Summer of next year (don’t wait until calls are published to have these conversations.) 

Please visit our website to view our resources including a Third Country Participation Event video and future events on being a Third Country Participant. 

It may also be useful for you to look at The Guidelines for Cooperation Projects 2020, in particular, pages 24,28,29 & 37. 

Get in touch with us for guidance. Creative Europe Desk UK  will be here to provide advice until the end of the current programme December 2020.

*“In the frame of the Call EACEA 32/2019 and of those costs laid out under section 11.2.1 solely, the notion of a third country is to be understood as a country not participating in the Creative Europe Sub-Programme Culture.” [Page 24 (footnote): Support for European Cooperation Projects 2020 Call Guidelines


Image: Freedom Festival - Foreign Tongues, an IN SITU Pilot project presented by Liquid Loft at Freedom Festival 2019, photo Tom Arran. IN SITU (Un)Common Spaces 2020-2024 is a Cooperation Project bringing together 19 partners and 12 associate partners from 21 countries across Europe and beyond.