Given the complexity and challenges inherent to any innovation process, EUI-IA projects require closer follow-up and additional flexibility and reactivity than “more traditional” projects. That is why the Permanent Secretariat has designed a monitoring and reporting approach which combines both ongoing monitoring and yearly reporting. The monitoring approach designed by the Permanent Secretariat shall enable MUA to anticipate and address major issues encountered in the project delivery.
This approach strongly relies on the transparent and open cooperation between MUA and the other Project Partners on the one hand, and the Permanent Secretariat and the EUI-IA project management team on the other hand. It is in the interest of all parties to flag potential issues and to discuss them at the earliest possible stage to mitigate the impact for the project as a whole. Potential adjustments to the initial plans may be needed but are allowed only in a duly justified cases. See. 6.2 “Project changes” for more details.
6.1.1 Preventative monitoring
The Monitoring Plan is a project monitoring tool and not a contractual element in itself; it identifies milestones based on the latest valid version of the project Application Form (i.e. key activities / deliverables / outputs) which are key moments linked to the implementation of the project Work Plan to be used by both the MUA and Permanent Secretariat as a framework for a preventative, flexible and ongoing monitoring of the project delivery. These milestones are jointly identified and agreed by the project and the Permanent Secretariat during the Initiation Phase. Although the number, nature and composition of the milestones varies from a project to another, it is recommended to have no more than 2 per year avoiding as much as possible an overlapping with the Annual Progress Report preparation period. In practice, the MUA sends in advance to the Permanent Secretariat an update on the project’s progress and milestone to be reached to set a date and format for the review together with the responsible Permanent Secretariat's officer.
Site visits are visits paid by the Permanent Secretariat to the project premises to perform a quality control and monitor activities or investments on the ground. They aim at establishing a smooth relationship between the project management team, the Project Partnership, and the Permanent Secretariat, keeping the Permanent Secretariat abreast of the latest project developments, and controlling administrative and non-administrative elements. Site visits are initiated by the Permanent Secretariat and organised at least once during the project Implementation phase. They take place primarily at the MUA’s premise but can also include visits to Project Partner(s) when relevant. Site visits could notably include:
- meetings with the MUA, and/or with the entire Project Partnership – with or without the presence of the EUI Expert;
- walkthroughs including a visit of the investment site(s);
- administrative checks including control of the audit trail;
- interviews with final beneficiaries and members of the wider group of project stakeholders;
- participation in project events.
During project implementation, additional meetings (online or face-to-face) may be deemed necessary by either the Permanent Secretariat or the MUA to address issues arising from the project implementation and gain first-hand knowledge about the actual state of play of the project such as: delivery of the project work plan, legal and/or financial problems or cooperation with the EUI Experts.
6.1.2 Project reporting – annual progress report, financial
Besides the preventative monitoring, the Permanent Secretariat will take stock of the project’s progress through the regular assessment of APRs and FCs, as well as closing FQR.
The Annual Progress Report (APR) describes the activities implemented, the deliverables/outputs produced, the results achieved, the resources used, etc.
The Financial Claim (FC) focuses on the report of incurred and paid costs related to the project activities (per Project Partner, Work Package, and Cost category). After its submission, the declared expenses must be validated by the FLC.
The Final Qualitative Report (FQR), submitted at the end of the project implementation, exclusively focuses on the overall summary of the project (including: challenges encountered; main outputs and results achieved; long-term sustainability and scalability of the project; summary of the experimentation and of the innovative aspects of the project; involvement of local stakeholders, participation and co-creation; overall added value that the project brought to the Cohesion policy; summary and results of the implementation of the transfer component, etc.) and does not include any reported expenditure.
6.1.3 Reporting periods and deadlines
The project APRs and FCs are not necessarily submitted together.
The scheduled project implementation period is 3,5 years, therefore there are four reporting periods each covered by an APR:
- first one submitted after the first year of the EUI-IA project implementation;
- second one submitted after the second year of the EUI-IA project implementation,
- third one submitted after the third year of the EUI-IA project implementation (and focused especially on reporting on the implementation of the (finalized by then) Thematic Work Packages), and
- fourth (final) submitted after the last half a year of the EUI-IA project implementation (and focused especially on reporting on the implementation of the Transfer and Monitoring and Evaluation Work Packages); in case of extension of the project implementation, fourth APR is covering both – last half a year of the regular project implementation period and granted extension).
At the same time, only two FCs are to be submitted:
- during the Implementation phase when the reported expenditure has reached at least 35% of the project total eligible budget – first FC;
- when the Administrative Closure phase is over – second FC.
The FQR must be submitted at the latest 3 months after the end of the Implementation phase (at the end of the Administrative Closure phase).
All reports (APR, FC, FQR) are submitted online in English via the EEP. The procedure is thus paperless. The overall process is coordinated, centralized, and controlled by the MUA. Project Partners (Delivery Partners and Transfer Partners) provide the MUA with the information necessary for the preparation of the reports. During the APRs and FCs assessment, the Permanent Secretariat officers may request clarifications, corrections, or additional information to the MUA in case of unclear aspects, inconsistencies, or unjustified delays/deviations. Beware that in case the mandatory submission deadline is not met, or the quality of the report is not satisfactory, the Entrusted Entity may decide to take corrective measures that can include the recovery or suspension of any payment(s) to the project.
The figure below (Figure 8) shows the different reports, and indicative reporting periods and reporting deadlines:
Figure 8. Reporting periods and reporting deadlines