Horizon 2020 Projects

What is Horizon 2020?

Horizon 2020(link is external) is the eighth phase of the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, funding programmes created by the European Union in order to support and encourage research in the European Research Area (ERA). It implements Europe 2020(link is external) and Innovation Union strategies(link is external). The programme runs from 2014–2020 and provides an estimated €80 billion of funding.

For more general information, please refer to the EU projects office (link is external)at CERN.

Please have a look at our latest news regarding Horizon 2020 financial rules.


Horizon 2020 Financial rules

Certificate on the Financial Statement

A CFS (audit certificate) is required only once, at the end of the project, when the EC contribution exceeds 325,000€. The cost of the CFS shall be foreseen in the budget of projects where CERN’s contribution exceeds the threshold. The typical cost of a CFS is 5000€. Costs for obtaining the CFS should be declared as “other direct costs” (and not subcontracting). As a consequence, it generates overheads.

Consortium Agreement

Consortium Agreements are mandatory under H2020. The CA must be revised by the following groups/sections:

  • CERN Legal Service (DG-LS)
  • IPT-KT

EC's payments

The EC will pay a prefinancing at the beginning of the project (typically 40-50% of the total contribution), then interim payment(s), then the final payment.
The Guarantee fund mechanism: EUfin will keep managing EC’s payments so that the departments can spend their budget without having to worry about the cashflow.

Eligible costs

Eligible costs are costs that must :

  • be actually incurred by the beneficiary
  • be incurred in the period set out in the Grant agreement, with the exception of costs relating to the submission of the periodic report for the last reporting period and the final report
  • be indicated in the estimated budget set out in the Description of Work
  • be incurred in connection with the action as described in Annex 1 and necessary for its implementation
  • be identifiable and verifiable, in particular recorded in the beneficiary’s accounts in accordance with the accounting standards applicable in the country where the beneficiary is established and with the beneficiary’s usual cost accounting practices
  • comply with the applicable national law on taxes, labour and social security
  • be reasonable, justified and must comply with the principle of sound financial management, in particular regarding economy and efficiency

Funding Scheme

H2020 does not make any distinction between activity types (RTD, Coordination, Support, Dissemination and Management have disappeared).
The maximum funding rate is 100% for all kind of expenses.


The overhead rate for projects other than Marie Curie is 25%.

The procedure about the internal distribution of overheads is available below.

Personnel costs

Members of personnel with the following status will be declared as “personnel”: Staff, fellow, technical/doctoral student, project associate, scientific associates, guest professors. The following will be declared as “other direct costs”: subsistence to cooperative Associates (COAS), user, visiting scientists and invoices for temporary workers.


The beneficiary can only subcontract certain tasks of a project, as long as it is foreseen in Annex 1 (i.e. in the proposal). The EC has revised its definition of subcontracting, making the distinction between “services” and “subcontracting” somewhat unclear.
e.g.: Temporary contracts can be either considered as “purchase of services” (direct costs) or “subcontracting”. The Commission considers that adding costs for subcontract "reflects a significant change of Annex I", and therefore requires an amendment, with the significant risk of the request being rejected.
The subcontractor must be selected following CERN as well as EU procurement rules, having the name of the subcontractor in the contractual documents such as the Annex I does not guarantee his selection.
In case you have to subcontract certain tasks of the project, it is highly recommended your contact in FAP-EF-EG(link is external).

Transnational activities

MPA registered for more than 6 months and more than 50% are not eligible to reimbursement of costs on TA activities. All other MPAs are eligible.
Researchers registered as EXTERNAL are always eligible. It is therefore advised to newcomers to register as EXTERNAL rather than MPA.


Timesheets are mandatory under H2020 to justify personnel costs (see Personnel costs). As a consequence, any person working on an EU project at CERN will have to fill a timesheet under PPT.EU(link is external).

NB: Though the Grant Agreement stipulates that timesheets are not mandatory for people working 100% on one action for cost reporting purposes, it is still unclear whether the Justification of Resources per work package will be maintained or not. Considering that this has been implemented during the last years of FP7, it is unlikely that the EC would discard it. It is also unlikely that a coordinator could follow-up and report on the advancement of the project without having the effort detailed per work package. Until this is clarify, we foresee that only a few people at CERN would benefit from this option.


Guidelines & Procedures

Annotated Model Grant Agreement

H2020 Online Manual

Building a H2020 project internal budget(link is external)

Procedure on the reimbursement for MPA in the frame of Transnational Activities (TA)(link is external)

Procedure on the use of the proportion of overheads(link is external)

Use of the Management budget on a H2020 Marie Curie project(link is external)

Procedure for claims on Marie Curie RISE projects

Exchange rate impact

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Updated on: 15/08/2017