Thursday, 1 December 2016

Legally binding

The EC operates an information campaign concerning H2020 audits, to help grant beneficiaries avoid errors in their financial reporting. EC staff speak at events held in a range of countries, and similar presentations are used at coordinator days organised by the EC in Brussels. But each slide in their presentations carries a footnote which says “Disclaimer: not legally binding”.

This lack of self confidence in their interpretations of the legal texts governing H2020 also shows up in the EC’s 700 page Annotated Model Consortium Agreement. On its front cover, a disclaimer says “This guide is….provided for information purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation of any applicable legal sources. Neither the Commission nor the Agencies (or any person acting on their behalf) can be held responsible for the use made of this guidance document”.

Similarly, the EC’s Research Enquiry Service adds to all its advice: “The Commission is committed to providing accurate information through enquiry services; however, the information provided has no binding nature. The Commission cannot be held liable for any use made of this information or for its accuracy”.

So even if you follow all the information and advice available from the EC, at audit time you can still be in the wrong!