During implementation, projects might face the need to modify the application form in order to adapt it to their actual needs. Modifications can be classified into minor or major modifications depending on their impact on the project.
III.4.1 Minor Modifications and Budget Flexibility
Minor modifications are adjustments that do not have a significant impact on the project. They can be implemented without prior approval of programme bodies within a certain flexibility range. Minor modifications may concern the aspects described below.
Modification of Administrative Elements
Administrative elements that might need to be updated include (see also chapter III.1.2):
- Change of contact data of the project, finance or communication manager
- Change of bank account of the LP
- Change of location of project documents
To start the modification process, the LP has to inform the JS on the need of changing administrative information. If necessary, the JS opens the concerned section(s) in Jems, where the LP can then update information and upload relevant documents as needed.
In addition, the LP has to inform the JS in case of any changes in the contact data or legal representative of the LP/PP and in case of a change in the LP/PP name that has no impact on its legal status. In case of change of legal representative or change of institution name, a relevant documentation giving evidence of such change has to be provided.
Please note that, if there is a change in the legal status or structure of the concerned partner institution, the LP has to apply for a major modification as described in chapter III.4.2.1.
Adjustments of the Work Plan
Minor modifications of the work plan must not affect the project intervention logic (i.e. project objectives, outputs, and results).
The LP should inform the JS as soon as possible about any upcoming needs for adjustments to the work plan. Based on information provided, the JS either confirms the minor character of the modification or informs the LP about the need to request a major modification.
Minor modifications could concern e.g. the format of an activity or a deliverable (e.g. change of location of pilot action, shifting physical meetings/events to online etc.), their timeline, or the involvement of partners in work packages and activities.
Such adjustments have to be reported as “deviations” within the joint activity reports (see chapter III.2.3.3). This has to include a justification of the minor modifications compared to the approved application form and, if applicable, an explanation of possible consequences on the project’s further implementation. Minor modifications could also be discussed during the project review (see chapter III.2.3.2).
The budget in the approved application form should be as precise as possible. However, when implementing the project, the LP might need to modify the financial plan to the actual project implementation status.
It is the responsibility of the LP to monitor project expenditure in order to ensure that the budget flexibility thresholds are respected. As a consequence, any expenditure carried out at PP level exceeding the overall budget availability of the respective PP as well as the allocation per cost category should be authorised by the LP.
Budget flexibility requirements applicable to projects are defined as follows:
|Increase of budget by up to 10% or EUR 20.000 (whichever is the highest) compared to the latest version of the application form in the following cases:
> Increase of budget in any cost category;
> Increase of the LP or PP budget.
|> Obtain approval from the LP and provide the approval to the controller;
> Report verified expenditure remaining within the flexibility limit in the joint finance report;
> Report such modifications as “deviations” within the joint finance report.
|> The project budget as defined in the subsidy contract cannot be increased;
> The budget allocated to a single investment (CC5 and CC6), for which an investment was not listed in section C.4 of the latest version of the application form, cannot be increased above EUR 25.000 total cost;
> The nature and use of investments, as described in the latest application form, cannot be changed;
> If there is no budget allocated under CC6, any increase must be agreed with the MA/JS beforehand, even if minor;
> State aid contractual conditions setting thresholds to the budget granted to beneficiaries may limit the application of the budget flexibility rule;
> Partner(s) receiving State aid within the project under the de minimis regime cannot increase their budget.
An increase of budget in a cost category or partner budget has to result in a decrease of budget in another cost category or partner budget. Due to the application of SCOs, an increase in a certain cost category (e.g. staff costs) might result in an increase of other cost categories (e.g. travel and accommodation costs). This has to be kept in mind in order to not increase the budget of the respective LP/PP above the threshold for minor modifications.
Please note: Exceeding the budget flexibility limits without prior authorisation of the relevant programme bodies will result in the ineligibility of the amount exceeding the threshold.
III.4.2 Major Modifications
Major modifications are complex changes that have an impact on the partnership, on the intervention logic or on the project budget. Such modifications require prior approval by different programme bodies depending on the type of major modification:
|Type of modification
|MC members of the countries where concerned partners are located, and MA
III.4.2.1 Modification of Partnership
As a principle, modifications of the partnership should be avoided to the possible extent. All other possible solutions should be explored before undertaking a partnership modification.
In cases of institutional changes, where according to national law the legal personality does not change and where all assets of a partner are taken over (i.e. in cases of universal succession), this can be treated as a minor administrative modification (see chapter III.4.1). The LP, however, must submit in due time the relevant information to the MA/JS together with all documents that are necessary to analyse the legal case. If the MA/JS comes to the conclusion that the conditions as stated above are not fulfilled (e.g. in cases of a singular succession), the LP shall initiate a partnership modification procedure.
Options for Partnership Modification
In case a partner has to withdraw from the project, there are the following options:
- Replacement by a newly incoming institution
The replacing institution must have the necessary experience and technical, organisational and financial capacity to participate in the project. It should preferably be located in the same region or country of the withdrawing partner.
It is strongly advised that the withdrawing partner, in coordination with the LP, informs the NCP of its country on the ongoing partner change. If needed, the NCP can support the search for a partner replacement in the concerned country.
If a withdrawing partner is located in an EU region outside the Interreg CE programme area, the incoming partner shall be located in the Interreg CE programme area or, if this not possible, must be located in the same Member State and have the same national responsible authority/body as the withdrawing partner.
If a leaving partner has not yet started the implementation of its activities, all tasks and the related budget can be fully taken over by the new partner. If the withdrawing partner has already partially carried out planned activities, only the remaining tasks and budget may be taken over by the new partner. Please note that funds of the withdrawing partner only become available for the new partner after approval of this modification by the relevant programme bodies.
- Replacement within the existing partnership
One or more of the existing partners partly or fully take over the role, activities and related budget of the withdrawing partner and no new institution or body joins the partnership.
- No replacement
No other institution (neither from outside or within the existing partnership) is taking over the implementation of activities of the withdrawing partner. In this case, the activities referring to the withdrawing partner (and the respective budget) have to be excluded from the revised application form.
However, this option is only possible if the concerned activities and the role of the withdrawing partner are not crucial for the project implementation and the exclusion does not have an overall negative impact on reaching the project objectives and results as planned in the approved application form. If this cannot be demonstrated, the MA has the right to terminate the project and demand the repayment of funds.
Also a combination of the above three types of partnership modifications is possible, e.g. only part of the activities are taken over by a newly incoming PP and other activities (and the related budget) are either excluded from the project or distributed within the partnership.
In case the partnership modification has an impact on the size of the partnership, the targets of the respective output indicator (RCO 87 “Organisations cooperating across borders”) and result indicator (“RCR 84 “Organisations cooperating across borders after project lifetime”) might need to be updated (see chapter I.3.4.)
Partnership modifications have to be compliant with any applicable partnership requirements as defined in chapter I.3.1.1 and in the ToR for the concerned call for proposals.
Please note that obligations deriving from the subsidy contract and the partnership agreement in terms of audits, retention of supporting documents and durability of outputs remain applicable to the withdrawing beneficiary institution even if only part of the originally foreseen budget was spent.
Supporting Documents for Partnership Modifications
The following supporting documents shall be provided depending on the type of partnership modification:
- Withdrawal letter of the concerned partner;
- Signed partner declaration, in case of a newly incoming partner;
- Acknowledgement of modification by the partnership (e.g. minutes of project steering committee meeting, email confirmations, etc.).
If a withdrawing partner is replaced, additional information might be requested for assessing the State aid compliance of the new partner taking over activities. This may result in specific State aid contractual conditions.
Additional State aid contractual conditions might also be set to existing partner(s) that, within the partnership, take over activities and budget of the withdrawing partner.
III.4.2.2 Budget Modifications
Major budget modifications concern the reallocation of budget between cost categories or partners that go beyond flexibility rules as presented in chapter III.4.1.
Financial implications of a modification of the partnership or the work plan are not considered as budget modifications (e.g. reallocation of tasks and budget within the partnership), but rather as its consequence.
Only one major budget modification can be requested during project implementation, notably after the project review (see chapter III.2.3.2). Budget modifications might be also linked to budget reductions due to low financial performance of the project (see chapter III.2.7).
State aid contractual conditions that set thresholds to the budget as it was granted to beneficiaries limit the possibility of budget modification. In particular, partners receiving State aid within a project under the de minimis regime cannot increase their budget.
It is to be noted that following the approval of a major budget modification, the project can still benefit from budget flexibility rules described in chapter III.4.1.
III.4.2.3 Modification of the Work Plan
All modifications which affect the project intervention logic by going beyond a mere adjustment of the work plan (see chapter III.4.1), require a formal approval by the MA.
This may concern the following:
- Modification of project objectives and results as well as the overall project approach;
- Modification or deletion of outputs;
- Deletion of activities;
- Major modification of investments above EUR 25.000 total cost, for which an investment description has to be provided in the application form (see chapter II.2.1.2);
- Modification of output and result indicator targets.
Requests for work plan modifications should be submitted in a fairly advanced stage of project implementation (i.e. not before the project review) and must be accompanied by a sound and detailed justification. Such requests have to be submitted prior to the implementation of the activities affected by the requested change of the work plan. A retroactive approval or approval before the project review may be granted only in exceptional and duly justified cases (e.g. necessary change of investment).
Modification requests have to be accompanied by a document demonstrating that the whole partnership acknowledges the modification (e.g. minutes of project steering committee meeting, email confirmations of partners).
Furthermore, in case of work plan modifications potentially leading to State aid relevance of the project, additional information may be requested to the partnership. This may result in specific contractual conditions set to the concerned partners.
III.4.2.4 Modification of Project Duration
In exceptional and well justified cases, the programme may grant an extension of the project duration. Prolongation requests should be rooted in external factors that hinder the timely finalisation of project implementation or the fulfilment of project objectives within the set time frame.
The following restrictions and limitations apply:
- The project budget, as outlined in the subsidy contract, cannot be increased.
- The extension of the project duration should not exceed six months. Only in exceptional and duly justified cases an extension beyond this might be accepted;
- The latest end date for a project is 31 December 2028 and no extension beyond this date can be granted.
A request for prolongation can be submitted only after the project review meeting (see chapter III.2.3.2) and before the project end date (as in the latest version of the approved application form). Any request submitted after the end of the project implementation period will be rejected.
When requesting an extension, the modification request shall be accompanied by an acknowledgement of the whole partnership (e.g. minutes of project steering committee meeting, email confirmations of partners).
III.4.2.5 Process for Major Modifications
Major modifications require a formal submission of the request to the MA/JS (via Jems) and trigger an approval procedure. Partners shall bear in mind that major modifications are approved only in duly justified cases.
Major modifications can only be requested:
- In an advanced stage of project implementation, i.e. at or after the project review. An earlier timing of a major modification is possible only for partnership changes or in other exceptional cases.
- Before the project end date as indicated in the latest version of the approved application form. However, it is strongly recommended to submit any major modification request at the latest three months before the project end date.
The lead partner has to inform the JS as soon as it becomes aware that a major modification might be needed. The JS then provides support and guidance through the whole modification process.
The modification process can be summarised as follows:
- LP submits a modification request form to the JS (template available in the documents section of the programme website) with a description of the requested changes and justifications;
- JS analyses the modification request, provides feedback to the LP and, if applicable, asks for additional explanations or clarifications. If the request is considered as justified, JS opens the AF in Jems, leading to a new version of the AF;
- LP updates the relevant parts of the AF and, if applicable, uploads relevant supporting documents in Jems;
- JS checks the revisions of the AF and, if needed, asks for further clarifications and/or amendments;
- Upon acceptance by the JS of the modifications made, the LP submits the revised AF in Jems and sends to the JS the final modification request signed by its legal representative;
- JS forwards the modification request, including its technical opinion, to the relevant programme bodies for approval;
- JS notifies the LP on the decision taken by the programme bodies and, if accepted, sets the revised version of the AF as the latest approved version in Jems.
The project modification enters into force on the date of its approval. Only in exceptional and duly justified cases, modifications can be granted retroactively.
A major modification might also lead to a revision of the subsidy contract or the partnership agreement and an update of the project monitoring plan. In any case, the LP must inform the partnership on the approval of the modification request and the entry into force of the revised application form.
 I.e. relevant institution(s) which signed an agreement on the acceptance of management, control and audit responsibilities as well as on liabilities in case of irregularities, as provided for in chapter I.3.1.1