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Announcement of a call for proposals: Increased protection against invasive alien species

13.03.2020

The Minister of Climate as the Operator of the “Environment, Energy and Climate Change” Programme announces a call for proposals for co-financing of projects aimed at “Increased protection against invasive alien species” to be financed from the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 with an amount of EUR 3,583,576, i.e. PLN 15 466 355.65 [1]

Aim of the Call for Proposals

The main aim of the Call for Proposals [2] intended to co-finance projects in the programme area Environment and ecosystems shall be to increase the resistance of ecosystems to negative effects resulting from climate change through active protection of ecosystems against invasive alien species.

The implementation of the projects shall contribute to strengthening the resilience of ecosystems to the negative effects of climate change and increasing public awareness of climate change and its impact on ecosystems.

Types of projects

The call shall support projects restoring the proper state of ecosystems through removal of invasive alien species, controlling their occurrence, identification and elimination of sources and routes for the spread of invasive alien species and including awareness-raising campaigns complementing them in this regard, together with an indication of their interconnectedness.

The projects selected within the scope of this call will contribute to achieving the Programme’s Outcome 2: “Environmental status of ecosystems improved ” and Output 2.2 “Measures against invasive alien species carried out” whose indicators and targets are listed on the table below, in accordance with Annex I to the Programme Agreement, signed in Warsaw on 7th February 2020.

PA

Outcome/

Output
Expected programme results Indicator Unit of measurement Baseline values Target value
PA11

Outcome 2

Environmental status of ecosystems improved Number of ecosystems with improved ecological status Number 0 10
Total surface of areas with improved environmental status (in ha) Number 0 30000
Number of protected species whose condition has improved Number 0 5
Output 2.2 Measures against invasive alien species carried out Number of invasive alien species whose negative impacts are controlled or reduced Number 0 3
Number of awareness raising campaigns carried out Number 0 20
Number of people reached by awareness raising campaigns Number 0 200000

The objective scope of projects may include the implementation of measures related to:

  1. removing invasive alien species from ecosystems;
  2. controlling the occurrence of invasive alien species in ecosystems;
  3. identification of sources and routes for the spread of invasive alien species;
  4. elimination of sources and introduction of solutions to reduce spread of invasive alien species.

Project implementation is possible in protected areas as well as in unprotected areas.

Eligible Applicants

The following entities may seek grants as part of the Call for Proposals:

a) private or public;

b) commercial or non-commercial;

non-governmental organisations (NGOs) understood as a non-profit voluntary organisation established as a legal entity, having a non-commercial purpose, independent of local, regional and central government, public entities, political parties and commercial organisations. Religious institutions and political parties are not considered NGOs according to Article 1.6(n) of the Regulation on the implementation of the EEA Financial Mechanism 2014-2021.

Donor partnership projects

In accordance with art. 7.2.2 of the Regulations, any public or private entity, commercial or non-commercial, as well as non-governmental organisations established as a legal person either in the Donor States, Beneficiary States [3] or a country outside the European Economic Area that has a common border with Poland or any international organisation or body of agency thereof, actively involved in, effectively contributing to, the implementation of a project, are considered eligible project partners.

Projects submitted in partnership with an entity from the Donor States (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein) will receive additional points in accordance with the merit criteria.

In the case of a donor partnership project submitted in a partnership with an entity from the Donor States, the provision of a letter of intent, a partnership agreement or other evidence
to confirm the cooperation with the Project Partner from the Donor States shall be required at the stage of the submission of an application for a grant. Prior to the conclusion of a project  agreement on the implementation of a project submitted in partnership with a partner from the Donor States, the submission of a signed partnership agreement in the English language and its translation into the Polish language shall be required.

In order to support the process of establishing partnerships with partners from the Donor States, the Programme Operator encourages Applicants to consult the information provided on the EEA Grants website and in the Partnership Guide, which is an attachment to the present Announcement.

Amount allocated to the Call for Proposals

EUR 3,583,576 , i.e. PLN 15 466 355.65 [4]

Grant rate

The grant rate of the requested co-financing shall be up to 85% of eligible expenditures.

Minimum grant amount

EUR 200,000, i.e. PLN  863 180.00 [5]

Maximum grant amount

EUR 1,000,000, i.e. PLN  4 315 900.00 [6]

Period of eligibility of expenditures in projects

The period of eligibility of expenditures in projects shall start on the day that the Programme Operator (the Ministry of Climate) decides to award the project grant.

The period of eligibility of expenditures in projects shall expire on 30 April 2024.

Evaluation and selection process

The Applicant shall fill in an application for the award of a grant and, subsequently, submit it to the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (hereinafter the National Fund) in the manner described in Section 13 of the Announcement of the Call for Proposals.

The evaluation of a project shall consist of an administrative evaluation (based on administrative and eligibility criteria) as well as a merit evaluation comprised of stage one and stage two (based on merit criteria).  

An administrative evaluation of projects shall consist in verifying a project to determine whether it meets or fails to meet the administrative and eligibility criteria (the so-called yes-no evaluation).

The administrative evaluation lasts 4 weeks counted from the date of the submission of the application, excluding the time needed for the appeal procedure.

If even one administrative/eligibility criterion is not met, the Applicant shall be invited to correct or improve it or to provide an explanation. Failure to submit an application within the period specified in the announcement, cannot be improved / supplemented and thus results in application’s rejection.

The Applicants whose applications will be rated negatively or left without consideration at this stage shall be informed in writing of the reasons for negative evaluation or leaving without consideration and be able to appeal the decision to the National Focal Point via the Programme Operator.

A merit evaluation shall consist of two stages:

  • Stage one of the evaluation: covering compliance with the applicable rules for the award of state aid, the principles of equal opportunity and non-discrimination, an assessment of the financial condition of the Applicant and an assessment of the eligibility of the project. This shall be a yes or no evaluation.

The Applicants whose applications are rejected at this stage shall be informed in writing of the reasons for rejection.

There is no possibility to appeal at this stage.

  • Stage two of the evaluation: consisting in points-based scoring of a project by at least two external and independent experts designated by the National Fund which shall be selected in a competition procedure. The experts shall evaluate a project separately in accordance with the stage two merit criteria as published in the Announcement of the Call for Proposals.

The merit evaluation (stage I and stage II) lasts 9 weeks counted from the day of the notification about the positive results of the formal evaluation, excluding the time needed for appeal procedure.

The Applicants who do not accept the score which they are given shall be able to appeal it to the Programme Operator.

At each stage of the merit evaluation, the Applicant may be asked once and in writing for clarifications on the application submitted.

The National Fund shall draw up a draft ranking list of positively evaluated projects, taking into account the results of assessments delivered by external experts. Applications shall be ranked in order of decreasing scores. The ranking of projects shall be based on the average of the scores given by experts. In case of a discrepancy between the experts’ scores exceeding 30% of the higher score, the National Fund shall commission an independent evaluation of the application to a third external expert. In such cases, for the purpose of preparing the ranking list of projects, the average of the numbers of points in the two closest scores shall be used.

The Applicants whose applications are rejected after stage two of the merit evaluation shall be informed in writing of the reasons for rejection and their right to appeal the decision to the Programme Operator.

A draft ranking list shall be submitted for review at a session of the Selection Committee.
In justified cases, the Selection Committee may modify the ranking list. The Chairperson shall submit a list of recommended projects with justification for modifications to the Programme Operator, along with a reserve list and a list of rejected projects, as well as the reasons for their rejection.

The final decision on the award of a grant shall be taken by the Programme Operator.

Payment scheme

Each Project Promoter may receive payments to the project in the form of:

  • advance payments

The amount of a single advance payment may not exceed 40% of the total grant amount. The first advance payment shall be made to the Project Promoter within 30 days of the date of submission of the request for an advance payment [7].

Subsequent advance payments shall be made on the condition that 70% of all the previously made advance payments is settled in payment requests or returned as an unused advance payment.

Detailed obligations and restrictions for the use and settlement of advance payments are specified in the Guide for Applicants.

  • reimbursement

Payments to the Project Promoter shall be made on the basis of approved payment requests.

The total amount of advance payments and reimbursements may not exceed 90%  of the total grant amount.

  • final payment

The final payment representing 10% of the total project grant amount shall be made after the final project report is approved.

Eligible expenditures, excluded costs, in-kind contribution, cost documentation

Expenditures are eligible in accordance with the general rules in Article 8 of the  Regulation on the implementation of the EEA Grants 2014-2021, with the following exceptions:

Direct expenditures:

  • Equipment:

The purchase of used equipment shall not be eligible.

  • Educational activities:

Pursuant to Article 8.4 of the Regulation and provisions of the Programme Agreement, the expenditures on educational activities in case of non-investment projects shall be established in accordance with the standard unit cost, based on the catalogue of expenditures which can be downloaded below.

The rules for the settlement of expenditures shall be laid down by the Programme Operator in the project contract.

Indirect costs:

Indirect costs shall be all eligible costs which cannot be identified by the Project Promoter and / or the Project Partner as directly attributable to the project.

The only allowable method for identifying indirect costs shall be a flat rate of up to 25% of total direct eligible costs, excluding the direct eligible costs of subcontracting and the costs of resources made available by third parties which are not used on the premises of the Project Promoter or Project Partner, in accordance with Article 8.5(1)(b) of the Regulation.

The detailed method for calculating indirect costs has been developed by the Programme Operator and can be downloaded below.

The method for calculating the indirect costs and their maximum amount shall be determined in the project contract. The method for calculating the indirect costs of a Project Partner shall be stipulated in the partnership agreement between the Project Promoter and the Project Partner.

Excluded costs are specified in Article 8.7 of the Regulation.

Own contribution:

In principle, the own contribution shall be made in cash.

It is only in projects where the Project Promoter is a non-governmental organisation that the in-kind contribution in the form of voluntary work may represent up to 50% of the own contribution required for a project under the programme.

In such a case, the Applicant shall calculate the value of the in-kind contribution taking into account:

- the amount of time worked on a voluntary and unpaid basis for the project, expressed in the number of hours,

- the standard hourly and daily rates for a given type of work performed in accordance with the rates normally paid for such work.

Due to the wide variety of types of work that the volunteer can carry out in the project, the size of rates proposed by the Applicant for individual works will be verified by an expert at the stage of merit evaluation of the grant application. The accepted amount of the above rates will be recorded in the project agreement.

Cost documentation:

The costs incurred under the project should be documented with the help of received invoices or accounting documents of equivalent probative value. The specific obligations of the beneficiary in this respect are specified in the project agreement.

In the case of donor partnership projects, the Project Partner whose primary location is in one of the Donor States may provide proof of expenditures incurred in the form of a report of an independent auditor or a competent and independent public officer, certifying that the claimed costs have been incurred in accordance with the Regulation, the relevant law and national accounting practice.

Date and manner of the submission of grant applications

The date of the notice of the call for proposal – 13.03.2020

The opening date for receiving applications from Applicants – 03.04.2020

The closing date for receiving applications from Applicants – 03.08.2020; 3 pm.

The manner of submitting applications

A grant application shall be prepared using only the Grant Application Generator (GAG).
The detailed rules for the submission of a grant application using the GAG are laid down in the Competition Rules.

Grant applications, along with attachments, shall be submitted to the National Fund in electronic form via the GAG available on the National Fund website.

The grant application form is available along with instructions for filling in the application on the National Fund website and EEA Grants website.

A grant application shall be submitted in electronic form using the GAG. Two options for signing an electronic application shall be allowed:

a) using a certified electronic signature which produces legal effects equivalent to those of a handwritten signature;

b) using a trusted profile on the Electronic Platform for Public Administration Services (ePUAP).

Application submission date

The prepared applications shall be submitted in electronic form using the GAG.

The date of submission of the application is the date and time of receipt of the application at the inbox of the National Fund on the ePUAP Platform, confirmation of which is the Applicant's receipt of an electronic confirmation of submission of the application (e-mail containing the date and time of receipt of the application on the National Fund inbox).

Applications submitted after the deadline shall not be considered.

The Programme Operator shall allow one Applicant to submit more than one application under the same call but in different project scopes. If two applications are submitted for the same material scope, the application previously submitted will be assessed. The Program Operator does not allow the possibility of self-correction of the application submitted.

Legal framework and programme documents:

  • Programme Agreement for the EEA Grants Programme for “Environment, Energy and Climate Change” in Poland;
  • Memorandum of Understanding on the Implementation of the EEA Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 between Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Republic of Poland on 20.12.2017;
  • Regulation on the implementation of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2014-2021;
  • Procurement Guidelines for the EEA Grants 2014-2021 and the Norway Grants 2014-2021;
  • Guidelines on the Information and Visual Identification for the EEA Grants 2014–2021 and the Norway Grants 2014–2021;
  • Guidelines on Appeals and other guidelines regulating the performance of tasks related to the implementation of the EEA Financial Mechanism 2014-2021, issued by the FMC or the NFP published on the EEA Grants website.

List of attachments to the call for applications:

  • Competition Rules;
  • Administrative and eligibility criteria;
  • Merit criteria;
  • Checklist’s template;
  • Partnership Guide;
  • Methodology for calculating indirect costs;
  • Catalog of standard unit costs for educational activities;
  • Guide for Applicants;
  • Project Agreement template.

 

List of attachments required for a grant application:

The following attachments shall be enclosed with a grant application:

  1. Documents determining the legal status of the Applicant;
  2. Mandate to sign the application (where applicable);
  3. Permits and administrative decisions determining the possibility of implementing the project or the schedule for obtaining them;
  4. Consent of the owner, manager or perpetual usufructuary of the area on which the Project is to be implemented, if the applicant is not the owner, manager or perpetual usufructuary of the abovementioned terrain - if applicable;
  5. Communication Plan prepared in accordance with Annex 3 to the Regulations on the implementation of the EEA FM and NMF for 2014-2021;
  6. Calculation of indirect costs based on the Methodology for calculating indirect costs as an attachment to the announcement of a call for proposals - if applicable;
  7. Documents confirming a project partnership – a letter of intent with an entity from the Donor States, a partnership agreement with an entity from the Donor States or other proof of cooperation between partners;
  8. Opinion and / or consent of the competent nature protection authority for the implementation of the project or confirmation of request for the abovementioned opinion / consent (applies to entities outside the nature protection authority) - if applicable;
  9. Declaration on the compliance of project tasks with ecosystem management plans - if applicable;
  10. Website / portal / vortal-graphic assumptions with a navigation scheme;
  11. Competition rules, agendas of training courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, events and festivals, defining their duration and thematic scope, etc.;
  12. Outlines of planned campaigns, publications, brochures (including technical parameters), etc.;
  13. Assumptions for the script of the TV / radio program / film / spot (including technical parameters and cost estimate of one episode), etc. - if applicable;
  14. Educational competition regulations;
  15. Assumptions for the design of interactive teaching aids;
  16. Sketch of the object, location of the object (map), if the project concerns the retrofitting of field infrastructure - if applicable;
  17. Map / diagram showing the location of the task and its most important elements / objects on a scale enabling analysis of the project (recommended scale from 1:50,000 to 1:25 000) - if applicable;

Other documents the submission of which by the Applicant are deemed necessary.

In accordance with Article 7.3 of the Regulation on the implementation of the EEA Financial Mechanism 2014-2021, the grant application should include information regarding all consultants involved in the preparation of the application.

Language of an application grant

Grant applications, along with attachments, shall be submitted in the Polish language.
In addition, the following shall be submitted in the English language:

  • a letter of intent, a partnership agreement or other proof of cooperation between partners (in the case of partnership projects with foreign entities, particularly, those from the Donor States);
  • a brief summary description of the project, along with the justification of the need to implement the project and the roles of partners (included in a grant application - in the Summary tab).

 

Contact with the Programme Operator

Any queries about the Call for Proposals shall be sent to the following e-mail address:

National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management

e-mail: mfeog_środowisko@nfosigw.gov.pl

Ministry of Climate

e-mail: mfeog@klimat.gov.pl

Questions shall be answered as soon as possible, but at the latest within 7 working days.

Reporting irregularities:

Citizens who have had suspicions of maladministration and corruption in relation to the Financial Mechanisms may report them to the Financial Mechanism Office, the National Focal Point and other relevant institutions listed on the EEA Grants website.

 


 

[1] The amount of the allocation of the Call for Proposals given in EUR and subsequently recalculated into the national currency and expressed in PLN, using an average monthly currency exchange rate as published in the Official Journal of the European Union (the C series), calculated for the last six months preceding the month when the call is announced, where EUR 1= PLN 4,3159. Grant amount in PLN is indicative. The grant shall be awarded in EUR, but the funds shall be paid in PLN, based on the European Commission’s monthly accounting exchange rate of the Euro (EUR/PLN) for the month in which the payment of the funds will be made.

[2] In line with the Programme Agreement for the EEA Grants Programme for “Environment, Energy and Climate Change” in Poland.

[3]Beneficiary States: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia, Slovenia, Portugal.

[4] Amount in PLN is indicative. The grant shall be awarded in EUR, but the funds shall be paid in PLN, based on the European Commission’s monthly accounting exchange rate of the Euro (EUR/PLN) for the month in which the payment of the funds will be made.

[5] As above

[6] As above

[7] In case of this call the interim payments in pre financing instalments are also considered advance payments

 

Materials

Administrative and eligibility criteria
1​_Administrative​_and​_eligibility​_criteria​_20200313.pdf 0.05MB
Merit criteria
2​_Merit​_criteria​_I​_and​_II​_Invasive.pdf 0.80MB
Template for the Partnership Agreement - ver. 23.06.2020
Template​_for​_the​_Partnership​_Agreement​_-​_ver​_23062020.doc 0.09MB
Letter of Intent - ver. 23.06.2020
Letter​_of​_Intent​_-​_ver​_23062020.docx 0.02MB