Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) & questions you should ask
This page provides answers to the frequently asked questions (FAQs) and other questions you should ask when considering applying for funding. If you don’t find an answer to your question below, feel free to consult our key documents and staff.
- About the Programme
- Support to applicants
- Types of projects
- Project partnership
- Activity planning
- Budget planning
- Simplified Cost Options and real costs
- State aid
- Submitting the application in Jems
If you are looking for more information about the funding possibilities for cross-border projects in the Central Baltic programme, start by reading our Key materials.
The main reference document is the Programme Manual – it provides information on how the Central Baltic Programme 2021-2027 works, what can be funded from the programme, what is expected from the projects, how to apply for a project as well as how to implement project activities and report them to us.
If you are planning to apply for funding and have read the key documents, do not miss our Project Applicant Seminars, which are provided by the Programme prior to each call. Consult your project idea with our experts: ideas in an early stage of development are recommended to be consulted with a national Contact Point. They also support the creation of relevant cross-border partnerships.
If you have started developing your project idea and observed the specific rules for the type of project you wish to apply for (regular project or small project), visit our support materials for applicants (guidance videos). The next step is to book an in-depth consultation with the Joint Secretariat.
Start by filling in the project idea form and sending it to the relevant project manager at the Joint Secretariat. All potential lead partners are strongly recommended to consult their project idea with theJoint Secretariat staff to get feedback on the project idea. The goal is to support our applicants in shaping strong applications with a higher chance of approval.
A network of national Contact Points provides information about the programme, initial guidance for applicants, and assistance in finding a project partner. National contact points are in Estonia, Finland, Åland, Latvia and Sweden.
To receive funding from the Central Baltic programme, projects must have clear cross-border character and involve partners from at least two programme countries. Cross-border cooperation should always bring added value to reach the project objectives. Any project must be based on a clear need, and it is important to involve target groups and end users of your project as much as possible already in the planning phase.
A project must be result-oriented, and it must be clearly focused on activities that lead to results required by the chosen Programme Objective and its result indicator. Only one Programme Objective can be targeted by one project. The results are expected to be durable and sustainable. All project partners must be relevant for achieving the results of the project.
The programme funds two types of projects, the so-called small projects, and regular projects. They vary in budget size and duration, and application procedures differ slightly between them.
Small projects can in principle be used for all Programme Objectives, but they are seen most suitable for Programme Objective 6 and Programme Objective 7. Regular projects can be used for all Programme Objectives.
Small projects may not have a total budget of more than 213 550 euros total including 13 550 euros for the preparation cost lump sum. Small projects cannot last for longer than 18 months. When the budget of a small project remains under 200 000 euros, only simplified cost options can be used in the project budget.
Projects with a total budget between 213 551 euros and 4 000 000 euros are understood as regular projects. The budget per partner is limited to
2 000 000 euros total. No technical limits have been set for the duration of regular projects, but their typical duration is 2 – 3 years.
The eligibility of partners has been defined according to their legal status. The programme will accept public authorities as well as bodies governed by public law and bodies governed by private law. These can be local, regional or national public authorities, infrastructure and (public) service providers, other organisation established for general interest needs including NGOs, business support organisations, higher education and research institutions as well as SMEs.
- SMEs are only eligible as partners for Programme Objective 4 Improved coastal and marine environment and Programme Objective 5 Decreased CO2 emissions.
- Large companies are not eligible as partners.
The partners must be from the participating Member States – Finland (including Åland), Estonia, Latvia and Sweden, but the impact of projects in all cases must come to the programme area. Regions belonging to Central Baltic programme area are indicated in the Programme Manual (chapter: Who can be a partner).
Lead partners can be:
- local, regional or national public authorities,
- infrastructure and (public) service providers,
- other organisations established for general interest needs including private non-profit organisations like NGOs,
- business support organisations,
- higher education and research institutions.
Due to the special nature of being a Lead Partner, SMEs and organisations from outside of the programme area are not allowed as Lead Partners.
The minimum requirement is two partners from two member states (Estonia, Finland (including Åland), Latvia, Sweden). Bilateral projects between mainland Finland and Åland are not possible.
More important than the number of partners, or that the whole programme area is covered by the project, is the relevance of the partners in achieving the project results. It is not expected to have more than 10 partners per project. The partnership needs to be balanced in terms of country representations and roles. The number of participating countries needs to be chosen depending on best way of solving the project challenge.
Generally, project partner organisations are expected to find partners using their professional networks. Central Baltic programme national Contact Points can help to look for partners using their networks and offer partner search events face-to-face or online. Welcome to follow Central Baltic events.
Yes, that is possible, but keep in mind that in all cases, the impact of projects must come to the programme area.
The partners must be from the participating Member States – Finland (including Åland), Estonia, Latvia and Sweden. If relevant, partners can come also from other EU Member States outside the programme area. In this case their role in the project should be explained particularly well. They must be needed to reach the project results. They must bring to the project added value that doesn’t exist in the programme area.
The partnership must be relevant for achieving the results of the project and must have the needed capacity to implement the project. This means that the partners should have a statutory authority or mandate to act in the chosen field. Participating in a project should be considered a priority for the organisation. Partnership needs to be balanced in terms of country representations and roles. The partnership should have at least two partners from two different countries and no more than 10 partners. The number of participating countries needs to be chosen depending on best way of solving the project challenge.
The basic unit of the work plan is a work package (WP) which is a logical entity of activities within the project. The WP will have own specific objective and communication objective based on the content of the WP as well as Programme Objective under which the project is implemented.
The WP consists of different set of activities and communication activities and their deliverables. Planned activities and their deliverables lead to the output(s) of the WP. The output(s) will contribute programme output indicator(s). Output indicator(s) must be logically linked to the project output(s).
If the project includes investments, these will be planned as separate entity inside the WP including activities, deliverables, and output(s) as well as output indicator(s).
It is recommended that each work package (WP) contributes directly to programme output indicator(s). This means that project output of the work package is linked to the Programme Objective specific programme output indicator and a numerical value is given for the selected programme output indicator. In some cases, the contribution to programme output indicator can be also indirect. In these cases, the project output is not linked to the programme output indicator.
When planning the project outputs and their contribution to output indicators it is good to keep in mind that the structure will not duplicate the value of the programme output indicator(s). Participation of people, organisations and companies is calculated as per participant. Each participant is calculated only once even though one would participate in several project activities which leads to the project output(s). As an example, there is a group of people who will participate in training activities which are implemented under WP1 and WP2. If the group of people is the same in both WPs, then only one WP will contribute directly to the programme output indicator and the project output of this WP is linked to programme output indicator and numerical value is given. If the numerical value is set in both WPs this would duplicate the output indicator, since the same group of people would have been calculated twice. Same logic is also implemented when pilots and services are implemented, and output indicators are calculated.
There is only one type of work package in use – Implementation WP. Project management activities like project management team meetings, steering group meetings, reporting etc. are not planned in WP. Project management structure is separately explained in the application form. If there are some costs (like meetings) related to the project management these can be still budgeted for the project.
Communication activities are an integrated part of the work package – WP Implementation. There is no separate WP only for communication. Communication activities are planned to reach your target groups and stakeholders, but also relevant segments of the general public.
- The Programme will provide each project with a dedicated project webspace, which contains legally required information about each project. This is to avoid a situation where projects would have to dedicate considerable resources to develop separate websites for the sole purpose of fulfilling the EU-level requirements set for the funded projects (to publish information about the project, its partners, results, and materials). Therefore, there is no need to budget for a separate external project website unless it’s needed to achieve the project’s objectives.
For more detailed information, visit our Communication FAQs.
Please note that basic project information (aims, results, financial support) must still be made available on the beneficiary’s (external) website(s) and social media sites.
1) Involve all relevant people in the activity planning process, for example, content experts, stakeholders, people from financial management.
2) Plan only the activities which are relevant for achieving the project results.
3) Aim to prepare the work package and activity structure the way that activities have clear milestones i.e., that the activities are not lasting for the whole project implementation period.
4) Do not plan too many work packages and activities. It is recommended to plan the activities as bigger entities. The project may prepare the more detailed work plan only for its own purposes which is not uploaded in the Jems.
5) Well prepared work plan will make the project implementation, monitoring as well as reporting easier.
The EU-level requirement for the project partners is to:
a) interact with their target groups throughout every step of the project implementation to achieve the project’s expected result and
b) fulfil the visibility rules to ensure the transparency of the use of EU funds.
The Programme Manual (chapter: Project communication) contains all relevant requirements regarding project communication.
Depending on the project’s specific needs and target groups, an additional separate website (i.e., an external project website) can be justified and eligible if it creates additional value to the implementation of project results.
Note that the Programme is providing a dedicated webspace for each project. The webspace allows projects to create and publish (basic) content, for example, project news, events, materials, photos, partner logos, social media links, and contact information.
Therefore, in addition to the project webspace provided by the Programme, a project may also budget for a separate website in the application if it is seen as the backbone of a project’s communication and success.
Lead partners and project partners must follow a set of communication and visibility requirements. The projects are to make sure the following requirements are met:
- LOGO – The Interreg logo (with the EU flag) must be prominently featured on all communication materials (printed and digital products, publications, websites, on-site activities and events) used for the public or for participants. The Interreg logo is provided for each funded project by the Programme. It consists of the following elements: Interreg Central Baltic Programme and the flag of the EU with the textual reference ‘Co-funded by the European Union’, to which the project acronym is added below.
- PROJECT INFORMATION – Basic project information (aims, results, financial support) is available on the beneficiary’s website(s) and social media sites.
- POSTERS – Information posters are clearly displayed to the public at all partner premises (minimum size A3).
- PLAQUE OR BILLBOARD – A project with a total budget exceeding 100 000 euros, must display a durable plaque or billboard clearly visible to the public as soon as the physical implementation of operations involving physical investment start or purchased equipment is installed.
- WEBSPACE – Project webspace is kept up to date (provided and hosted on the Programme website).
ERDF co-financing can be up to 80% of the costs for all project partners.
Central Baltic 2021-2027 programme does not pay advance payments for projects.
Each partner is responsible for financing of the project activities. Project partners have to first cover all expenses, pay invoices etc. After the costs have been reported and all checks have been performed by the national control and the programme (Joint Secretariat/Managing Authority), the ERDF share of the costs will be reimbursed.
The time between paying the costs by project partner and receiving the reimbursement is minimum 10 months. Therefore, it is important that all partners have enough liquidity to cover their costs without problems.
Each project partner is responsible for covering their own co-financing (min 20% of the total costs). Co-financing can be funded from project partners’ own budget or provided by other organisations. Both public and private funds are eligible for partners co-financing.
The basic principle for co-financing is that it must be given specifically to the Central Baltic project in question. All financiers must submit a co-financing statement in the application submission stage.
According to the Programme Manual, the partner contribution cannot be covered by funding from other projects or programmes. This refers to cases where activities that fall under other projects/programmes would be mixed in an attempt to generate financing.
Project partners to whom the funding is granted as State Aid under the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) Article 20 cannot use available national co-financing sources because maximum support rate from public funds cannot exceed 80%.
Value Added Tax (VAT) is an eligible cost for all partners, despite the partner VAT status. This means that all partners should budget and report costs including VAT.
The exception are project partners to whom the funding is granted as State Aid under the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) Article 20:
- If the partner cannot recover VAT, then it is part of the eligible cost
- If the VAT can be recovered by the partner, the VAT is not an eligible cost
Costs reported by project partners will be verified by national controls. In the Central Baltic Programme 2021-2027 national controls are centralised in all countries and project partners do not need to budget funds for covering any auditing costs.
Each project partner may be selected for second level audit. If a cost is found ineligible at any time during or after the project duration, a correction will be made.
For auditing reasons, all documents must be kept in a safe and orderly manner for 5 years after the closure of the project. If the funding was given as state aid or project implemented investments, documents should be kept for 10 years. Project documents must be filed separately and have distinguishable book-keeping code.
Once the project has been submitted and contracted the changes can be done via official modification procedure or using flexibility rule.
Flexibility rule means that project is allowed to overspend by a maximum of 20% or 40 000 euros (whichever is higher) of the individual cost categories at project level. Lead partner follows project spending and if project partner needs to use flexibility rule it must be agreed with the lead partner in advance. The project or partner total budget may never be exceeded. Keep in mind that if staff cost is increased or decreased, it will also affect the flat rates and unit costs linked to it.
Using simplified cost options (SCO) is mandatory for all Central Baltic projects and project partners when they make costs that meet conditions of SCOs. Costs covered by SCOs cannot be reported under any other cost categories as real costs.
Preparation cost lump sum 13 550 euros (total cost) must be budgeted in project application. The lump sum can be divided between partners or budgeted for only one partner. Preparation cost will be paid to all contracted projects.
Staff cost hourly rates are determined for each country. For each employee working for the project partner, regardless of their position in the project, the same hourly rate will be calculated. Maximum of 1 720 hours per calendar year and 860 hours per reporting period can be budgeted per full time employee.
- Staff costs will be reported using Report of hours (download and open the file in Acrobat/Reader). Only hours actually worked for the project can be reported.
Staff costs can be budgeted for persons who are working for the partner organisations with employment document. Responsibilities related to the project must be described in the employment document or job description.
Budgets are always made in euros, for Sweden 50 euros per hour is budgeted.
Office and administration flat rate is counted 15% of the eligible staff costs. It covers costs that are needed for normal implementation of the project such as office rent, IT systems, telephones, accounting etc. Please see full list of costs included in the office and administration flat rate in the Programme Manual chapter 4.6.2 Office and administration (simplified cost option). Any cost items listed there cannot be budgeted under any other cost categories.
Project partners do not need to report office and administration costs or provide documentation about the expenditure. Programme authorities check that staff costs are reported correctly and the sum for office and administration cost is calculated automatically by Jems as 15% of eligible staff costs.
Travel and accommodation flat rate is counted 15% of the eligible staff costs. It covers travel and accommodation costs of staff of the project partners.
All travel costs for project staff are always budgeted on CC travel and accommodation. Budgeting any travel costs for project staff on other cost categories is double financing and ineligible.
Travel and accommodation costs of external experts, target group and steering group members which are necessary for achieving project results are budgeted on CC External expertise and service.
Project partners do not need to report travel and accommodation costs for project staff or provide documentation about the expenditure. Programme authorities check that staff costs are reported correctly and the sum for travel and accommodation costs is calculated automatically by Jems as 15% of eligible staff costs.
Face-to-face event unit cost is used for reimbursing costs for face-to-face events which are organised by project partners within the programme area and involve participants outside the partner organisation.
The unit cost covers costs for catering, room rent and regular conference room equipment. The unit cost for the face-to-face event is calculated per one participant per one event day. The unit cost must be chosen according to in which country the event takes place.
Management equipment unit cost is calculated based on staff hours. For each eligible staff working hour 0,23 euros are calculated for management equipment. Maximum 1 720 hours per calendar year and 860 hours per reporting period can be budgeted per full time employee.
Management equipment unit cost can be calculated as one amount per each project partner, it is not necessary to calculate and budget the unit cost separately for each employee.
Projects with total budget over 200 000 euros can budget real costs in cost category external expertise and service and cost category equipment.
In cost category external expertise and service real costs can be budgeted for example for experts and service providers. In addition, travel and accommodation costs for external experts, speakers and target group are budgeted as real costs in cost category external expertise and service as well as cost for participation in events (registration fees).
If in addition to face-to-face event unit cost (catering, room rent and regular equipment) additional costs such as moderator, external speaker, training provider, marketing, specific event equipment or materials are necessary, those can be budgeted as real costs.
In cost category equipment real costs can be budgeted only for equipment which remains in use by the partners and/or target group after completion of the project. Only the equipment budgeted in the Application Form is eligible cost for a project.
The Central Baltic programme allows for small-scale investments. These are particularly foreseen in the programme objectives 3-5. All investments must have cross-border added value and they must be crucial for reaching the results of a project. Investments are understood as equipment that are permanently used for reaching the results of the project. Our focus is on solutions that are operable after the project has ended.
State aid applies to projects where public funds are granted to beneficiaries whose activities can be seen as economic activity (regardless of the legal form of this entity) – if the project support would give an economic advantage to the beneficiary and the support would affect competition and trade. In such cases, Programme support will be granted according to the General Block Exemption Regulation’s (GBER) Articles 20 and 20a.
Such aid is exempted from the notification requirement, i.e. no need to wait for the European Commission approval for granting the aid.
Following costs are eligible:
- staff costs;
- office and administrative costs;
- travel and accommodation costs;
- external expertise and services costs;
- equipment costs.
In Central Baltic projects the maximum grant limit is 2 000 000 € to the partner per project.
The maximum aid intensity is 80 %. As the Programme ERDF support is 80%, the beneficiary can not receive any other public funding as a support for implementing the project. I.e. the 20% of own co-financing must be funded from beneficiary’s own budget.
For project partners to whom the funding is granted as State Aid under the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) Article 20 the VAT is not an eligible cost if it can be recovered. See more in question “Is VAT eligible for projects?”
The Central Baltic programme uses the article to support beneficiaries who are not partners in the project, i.e. “third parties” /indirect beneficiaries (usually SMEs). Support given by project partners to final beneficiaries can be for example to cover costs for training or consultations, visits to target markets, participation in trade fairs, etc. The support is given by project partners and the partner has to keep the lists of undertakings to whom the aid was granted and keep them for audit trail. The grant limit under the Article 20a is 22 000€ per undertaking per project.
Go to the Central Baltic Jems webpage and click the ‘Create a new account’ button, give the required information and click ‘Register’. Once the registration is successfully completed, you will receive an email with a confirmation link. After confirming you will be able to sign in to Jems.
Technical support can be reached by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be as precise as possible when describing the issue you need help with. If your support request concerns a specific project, always include the project number.
Not necessarily, but to access and read or modify the application form, registering is needed. If a project is selected for funding, all partners must register to be able to report their activities.
You must be registered to Jems to be able to access the system. The Lead Applicant (the partner who has initially opened the application form in Jems) will have to give other partners rights to access the application form. Rights can be given only to partners who have registered.
To submit your application, click ‘Check and submit’ on the left side menu in Jems. If you are a small project or a regular project in the second step, you must run the pre-submission checks before submitting. These checks are not used for regular projects in the first step. Any errors found in the check must be corrected, and the checks must be run again successfully before submitting is possible. Be prepared to submit in good time before the deadline!
Yes, you can. All annexes must be uploaded to the application form, preferably as .pdf files.
Additional documents are generally not allowed and will not be included into the assessment. All needed information should be in the application form. If you feel that an additional attachment is absolutely necessary, contact the Joint Secretariat to ask for a permission to include it.
No. Once submitted, the application form is locked and can be accessed for reading, but not for editing.
Yes. There is an ‘Export’ function in Jems which you can use to download .pdf versions of the application forms.
The content of the applications is assessed by two Joint Secretariat employees based on the assessment criteria and methodology described in the Programme Manual.
First step assessments are made individually and thereafter a tandem assessment takes place. After their assessment, the final decision on which projects will proceed to the second step or receive financing will be taken by the Monitoring Committee consisting of representatives from each participating Member State/Åland.
The Programme publishes the list of financed projects on its website a short time after the Monitoring Committee meeting.
The earliest possible day for the project to start is the first day of the month following the Monitoring Committee meeting day.
For example, if the Monitoring Committee met and approved a project on 20 December, the earliest day for the project to start is 1 January. The start date will be negotiated and agreed during the contracting process.