Guidance to partners of projects funded by Interreg Baltic Sea Region concerning the COVID-19 pandemic
In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Managing Authority/Joint Secretariat (MA/JS) of Interreg Baltic Sea Region receives requests from project partners regarding the implementation of their projects. In general, we as the MA/JS consider it our joint responsibility to minimise the spreading of the corona virus. Here we provide advise to our project partners which is updated as the situation evolves. If you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the responsible project officer at the MA/JS.
The team of the Managing Authority/Joint Secretariat
Update as of 23 June 2020
In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic the Managing Authority/Joint Secretariat, with the approval of the Monitoring Committee, has reviewed some relevant Programme rules and updated the Programme manuals accordingly. To allow projects to adjust to the challenges of the pandemic and support them in achieving their results in the best possible quality the maximum length of the project duration has been prolonged. Projects were offered additional 6 months of implementation. The extended implementation should help projects accommodate their initial plans of reaching out to their target groups and organise relevant project events, to the current travel and gathering restrictions. To maximize the positive impact of the prolongation the rule related to the number of budget changes has been revised, allowing for one additional budget reallocation. The updated Programme Manuals are available for download here and the Programme Manuals for coordination of macro-regional cooperation (specific objective 4.2) here.
Update as of 2 June 2020
Update of e-signature guidance
The e-signature guidance has now been updated. The change concerns a possibility to upload to BAMOS the reporting documents signed with e-signature in their original formats: PDF, ASiCe, ADoc, BDoc, EDoc, and XADES.
In case you would like to use the electronic signature, please read the updated e-signature guidance.
Update as of 9 April 2020
Overcoming delays due to coronavirus lockdown: project implementation time can be prolonged by six months
In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, all ongoing projects suffering from delays of their activities can ask for a prolongation of six months in addition to their regular implementation time fixed in their subsidy contracts. The Managing Authority/Joint Secretariat (MA/JS) of Interreg Baltic Sea are confident that this measure will help projects catch up once the coronavirus lockdown will be lifted.
We know that some projects would exceed the maximum implementation time of 36 months, which is currently set in the Programme Manual. We will adjust the Programme Manual accordingly.
Projects need to be aware that no additional budget will be granted for the prolonged implementation time. MA/JS also expect an explanation that the delays were caused by the coronavirus hold-up.
The MA/JS will approach all ongoing projects within the next weeks with further details about the procedure. Thank you for your patience.
The Monitoring Committee of Interreg Baltic Sea Region approved the option for prolongation in an accelerated decision-making process of only one week. The MC hopes that the projects co-financed by the Programme will do their best to deliver their originally planned results. All people involved in this Programme are striving to create an environment for working together to let great solutions become common practice.
Update as of 31 March 2020
Use of electronic signature
The current situation with the coronavirus and questions from the projects and first level controllers call for flexible solutions and increased use of digital tools in partner reporting. One of the supporting measures is the use of electronic signatures. The Managing Authority/Joint Secretariat (MA/JS) herewith introduce the possibility to use the electronic signatures for:
- partner reports (signed by the given project partners and their controllers);
- first level control reports and checklists (signed by the controllers).
In case you would like to use the electronic signature, please read the guidance. In this guidance you can find the types of acceptable electronic signatures, requirements and possible formats as well as the legal basis for them. If you have any question, please contact us.
Update as of 26 March 2020
Over the past days, the MA/JS received more specific questions from projects as a consequence of the coronavirus lock-down. Project partners could not meet in person, not discuss face-to-face, not attend larger events that were cancelled, or had to stop campaigns requiring the participation of the public. In some cases, online meetings did not work out, or pilot cases had to be stopped. Several projects asked the MA/JS about a possibility for prolonging the implementation time for projects. The MA/JS is determined to support projects in delivering their project results as originally planned. We are appreciating all efforts and alternative methods of implementing activities. At the same time, we are investigating the implications of a prolonged implementation time due to downtimes caused by the pandemic. We will keep you updated about possible solutions. We want to ensure that your ideas are put into practice to improve the life of all citizens around the Baltic Sea. Thank you for your patience.
Update as of 20 March 2020
Most of our project partners are worried about the consequences of the coronavirus measures on their project activities. Much of the joint work has to be organised in different ways or postponed or even cancelled.
The MA/JS is fully aware of the difficulties that project partners are facing. At this moment it is not possible to predict how long the coronavirus lock-down will last and what the final consequences will be. To make sure that projects will achieve their results as planned, the MA/JS will be flexible and responsive to the actual situation. In cooperation with programme and project stakeholders, we are jointly developing suitable solutions. Soon we will approach you with a set of measures to support your project implementation.
For the time being we advise all project partners to continue implementing their planned activities to the best extent possible.
Update as of 12 March 2020
We advise all project partners to continue implementing their projects striving to accomplish all outcomes as initially planned. We are encouraging project partners to identify - where needed and possible - alternative ways to implement the planned activities. This could include, e.g. to replace physical meetings by on-line meetings or video-conferences or to use online surveys to collect stakeholder input.
Furthermore, we are ready to discuss major changes of the work plan other than the above mentioned. If a project lead partner wishes to change the work plan with an effect to a main output of the project, they are asked to approach their responsible project and finance officers prior to implementing any activities that are not in the approved work plan to have the changes approved.
In relation to travel and events, we advise project partners to assess the situation according to the recommendations by the relevant authorities responsible for public health such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) or national health organisations, and follow the instructions of their own organisation. In the case that a project partner decides to cancel project related travels or events, the related costs (e.g. tickets, pre-paid accommodation, event services) can be accepted by the first level controllers (FLCs) as eligible provided that:
- the cancellation is subject to inevitable external circumstances (force majeure);
- and the costs cannot be recovered by any means (note: the travelling persons and organisers are obliged to minimise such costs);
- and the expenditure as well as the reasons for cancelling (i.e. the instructions of the competent authorities or the justification for cancelling an event) are properly documented.
Examples of inevitable external circumstances (force majeure) are:
- official warnings by the WHO or the competent public authorities;
- official travel bans of the project partner organisations;
- a situation in which a significant number of participants or key speakers cancelled their participation in an event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For future travel and events, we recommend to make use of flexible booking options and contractual arrangements allowing refundable cancellations.
As the situation is constantly changing, please check our website for updates. If you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the responsible project officer at the MA/JS.