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Grant Holder Q&A

1. Administering the Action - Getting Started

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1.1. Our COST Action has just been approved – what now?

Prior to the 1st Management Committee (MC) meeting, the Action Science Officer (SO) will communicate the budget of the upcoming Grant Period to the Action Proposer via the online e-COST Action Management Tool: eCAMT. Following notification of the agreed budget, the Action Proposer is requested to suggest a Grant Holder and to assign a candidate for the role of Grant Holder Scientific Representative. The assigned Grant Holder Scientific Representative who must also be a MC Member must then assign persons to the positions of Grant Holder Legal Representative, Grant Holder Financial Representative and Grant Holder Manager (known as Grant Manager). Once the aforementioned tasks of completing the Grant Holder e-COST profile has been finalised, and with the agreed budget in mind, the Action Proposer must draft a Work and Budget Plan on eCAMT that will detail the eligible scientific activities that would ideally be performed throughout the upcoming Grant Period.

During the 1st MC meeting, the MC elects the Action Chair, the Action Vice-Chair and the Grant Holder Institution. These formal appointments are recorded in the MC meeting minutes and will take immediate effect on e-COST. In addition, the draft Work and Budget Plan (as mentioned in the 1st paragraph) is presented by the Action Chair to the MC. This draft Work and Budget Plan can be subsequently amended on eCAMT in accordance with the opinions and expressed wishes of the majority of the MC. After the 1st MC meeting has been concluded, the revised Work and Budget Plan must be submitted for formal approval by the MC and by the Action Science Officer.

Respecting the above workflow, the requirements needed to initiate and finalise the electronic Grant Agreement procedure on eCAMT are as follows:

  1. A completed Grant Holder Profile;
  2. Meeting minutes from the 1st MC meeting (only necessary for Grant Period 1 unless there is a change of Grant Holder in subsequent Grant Periods);
  3. A Work and Budget Plan approved by the COST Association and the MC;
  4. A Grant Agreement generated through eCAMT signed electronically by the Legal Representative (using the strong authentication feature) of the COST Association and the Grant Holder Institution.

The SO and the Action Chair must negotiate the budget and the associated eligible scientific activities on a Grant Period by Grant Period basis. Each subsequent, negotiated Work and Budget Plan must also be approved by the MC on a Grant Period by Grant Period basis.

Decisions taken by majority vote at the 1st MC meeting and all subsequent MC meetings can only take effect if one representative from at least two thirds of the participating COST Member Countries is in attendance. 

The minutes of each MC meeting must be filed accordingly and uploaded onto e-COST in every instance.

1.2. When can the Grant Holder gain access to e-COST?

Access to e-COST will be given to the Grant Holder when the COST Action Grant Agreement has been signed by the Legal Representative of the Grant Holder institution.

1.3. Who from our Institution must sign and initial the Grant Agreement and its annex?

The COST Action Grant agreement must be signed electronically (using the Strong Authentication feature) by the person who is empowered to enter the Grant Holder institution into legally binding contractual agreements. If necessary, please contact your Legal Officer for confirmation of who this person is.

1.4. How do Researchers join a running COST Action?

Joining a COST Action primarily depends on the location of the institution where the interested Researcher is located.

1.4.1. For Researchers affiliated to institutions located in one of the COST Member Countries or Cooperating State and want to join the Action

  • And if the country has not yet accepted the Action's Memorandum of Understanding (MoU):

The Grant Holder must advise the Researcher to contact their COST National Coordinator (CNC) who can launch the formal procedure to join the relevant Action. Once the procedure has been concluded, the CNC can officially nominate their national representatives onto the Management Committee. The contact details of the respective CNC can be found by clicking on this link:http://www.cost.eu/about_cost/who/(type)/3.

It is also recommended that the Action Chair is advised of the Researcher’s interest and intent.

  • If the country has already accepted the Action's MoU but has not yet nominated 2 representatives:

The Grant Holder must advise the Researcher to contact their COST National Coordinator (CNC) who is empowered to officially nominate the Researcher as a representative for their respective COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member;

It is also recommended that the Action Chair is informed by the interested Researcher of their interest in joining the Action

  • And if the participating country has already nominated 2 representatives:

The Grant Holder must advise the Researchers to contact the Action Chair / Working Group Leaders to discuss their participation in a Working Group (WG) meeting and/or the possibility of becoming a Management Committee (MC) Substitute member. If the Researcher is to join the Action as an MC substitute, then they must contact their COST National Coordinator (CNC) who is empowered to officially nominate them as MC Substitute.

1.4.2. For Researchers Affiliated to institutions located in Near Neighbour Countries (NNC) and want to join the Action:

Researchers affiliated to institutions located in Near Neighbour Countries (NNC) can participate in a COST Action on the basis of agreed mutual benefit. When a researcher located in an institution based in a NNC is named as a COST Action Participant in the initial proposal, then their participation is formally approved by de-facto but they can only assume MC Observer status once the Management Committee (MC) has formal approved their participation in the Action. When a researcher from a NNC is not in the initial proposal but wants to join the Action, it is still possible for them to become an Action Participant (also as an MC Observer) but their participation requires approval by both the MC and COST.

1.4.3. For Researchers affiliated to institutions located in International Partner Countries (IPC) countries and want to join the Action:

Researchers from institutions based in International Partner Countries (IPC) can participate in COST Actions on the basis of agreed mutual benefit. As a starting point, it is recommended that the interested Researcher informs the Action Chair of their interest in joining the Action. The Action Chair can then initiate the IPC application procedure and must consult the Action Science Officer for advice on how to proceed as both MC Approval and COST approval is required.

When an Institution has been formally approved onto the Action, then Researchers from that institution are not eligible to be reimbursed for their attendance at COST meetings but are eligible to be reimbursed for their attendance as a Trainer at an approved Training School.

1.4.4. For Researchers who work or are affiliated to the European Commission, EU Agencies, European RTD Organisations and International Organisations:

Researchers who work for or are affiliated to the European Commission and EU Agencies, European RTD Organisations and International Organisations can be named as Action Participants in the initial proposal, thus their participation is approved by defacto once the proposal is approved by the CSO. Once the Action has started, their participation also requires formal approval by the Management Committee (MC).

Action Participants from the EC, EU Agencies are not eligible for reimbursement unless there are special provisions enacted by the COST Committee of Senior Officials (CSO). Action Participants from approved International Organisations are eligible to be reimbursed for their attendance at approved Training Schools.

Researchers from European RTD Organisations are eligible to be reimbursed for specific activities in line with the eligibility criteria detailed in Section 3,4,5 and 7 of the COST Vademecum. The category of European RTD Organisations is comprised of the following 8 entities: CERN - European Organisation for Nuclear Research, EFDA JET - European Fusion Development Agreement, EMBL - European Molecular Biology Laboratory, ESA - European Space Agency, ESO - European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, ESRF - European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, European XFEL - European XFEL Free-Electron Laser Facility, ILL - Institut Laue-Langevin.

1.5. Can COST Activities span across two Grant Periods?

All approved activities must occur in their entirety within one Grant Period and cannot span across two Grant Periods. To be considered as an eligible expense, an expense must be incurred within the period of eligibility as specified in both the COST Grant Agreement and the approved Work and Budget Plan and must satisfy the instrument specific eligibility criteria detailed in the COST Vademecum.

2. Formal Decision Making and how to Process Management Committee (MC) Approvals

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2.1. What is a Management Committee (MC)?

COST Actions are implemented through the constitution of a Management Committee (MC) comprised of national representatives nominated by COST National Coordinators (CNC) in countries that have accepted the Action Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Consequently, budgetary and strategic decisions linked to the management of the COST Action must adhere to the opinions and requests of the majority of the MC and must respect the administrative rules set out in the COST Vademecum.

2.2. What is the purpose of a Management Committee (MC) meeting?

The purpose of a Management Committee (MC) meeting is to coordinate and organise the Action’s scientific activities in line with the objectives specified in both the MoU and the periodically approved Work and Budget Plans. Budgetary and strategic decisions linked to the management of a COST Action must adhere to the opinions and requests of the majority of the MC. All MC decisions must also respect the administrative rules and guidelines set out in the COST Vademecum.

Decisions taken by majority vote at MC meetings can only take effect if at least one representative from two-thirds of the participating countries is in attendance.

The first MC meeting is always held in Brussels and is administrated and funded by COST. All subsequent MC meetings cannot last for more than one full day. The Action Science Officer and Administrative Officer and all MC Members (or their formally appointed MC substitutes) must be invited to attend MC Meetings.

The official COST MC meeting agenda template (which can be generated via e-COST) must be used for all MC Meetings. The ordering and content of the activities detailed in this MC Agenda template can be amended by the Action Chair to fit the needs of the Action.

The COST MC Minutes template displaying the official COST corporate header must be used when distributing the MC meeting minutes to both the MC and to COST.

The minutes from MC meetings must be filed accordingly and uploaded onto e-COST in every instance.

2.3. What is Management Committee (MC) approval?

COST Actions are implemented through the constitution of a Management Committee (MC) comprised of national representatives nominated by COST National Coordinators (CNC) in countries that have accepted the Action Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Budgetary and strategic decisions linked to the management of the COST Action must adhere to the opinions and requests of the majority of the MC and must respect the administrative rules set out in the COST Vademecum.

Consequently, MC approval validates decisions taken by majority vote at MC meetings but only when at least one representative from two-thirds of the participating countries is in attendance. When the quorum has been satisfied and the majority of the MC are in agreement with the proposed change, then this acceptance of the proposed changes acts as MC approval. However, if the majority of the MC opposes the proposed changes then the intended changes cannot take effect.

MC Decisions taken by majority vote at approved MC meetings must be recorded in MC Meeting minutes.

The MC meeting minutes recording the decision must be filed with the documents that are relevant to why the MC approval was originally sought.

The MC can also formally approve the proposed changes by means of a ‘written procedure’ which involves the Chair (or vice-Chair if the Chair is also based in the Grant Holder institution) or the Grant Holder on behalf of the Chair (or vice-Chair) sending a communication, by email, detailing the need for MC approval to the entire MC and must specify a date (at least 7 days) up to which any MC Delegate can contest their disapproval for implementing the proposed change. This ‘written procedure’ is commonly known as an “e-vote” and operates on the premise of presumed consent which means that if MC Delegates do not respond directly to the respective notifications by at least 7 days, then the MC Chair (or vice-Chair) and Grant Holder can assume that the MC are in agreement with the proposed changes and can consider the proposed change (s) as being MC approved. If the majority of MC Delegates oppose the proposed changes then the intended change cannot take effect.

2.4. When is it necessary to get Management Committee (MC) approval?

Budgetary and strategic decisions linked to the management of the COST Action must adhere to both the opinions and requests of the majority of the Management Committee (MC) and must respect the administrative rules set out in the COST Vademecum. Consequently, MC Approval is required in the following instances:              

  • When the Work and Budget Plan needs to be formally agreed for the processing of a Grant Agreement;
  • When the Work and Budget Plan (Annex A) needs to be revised for the processing of a Grant Amendment - Please note that MC approval is also necessary when an Action needs to be prolonged;
  • When a country wants to join the Action and more than 12 months from the date the Action was approved by the COST Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) has elapsed;
  • When the Grant Holder Institution needs to be replaced during a Grant Period/changed at the end of a given Grant Period;
  • When a Researcher from an institution based in a country that is not a COST Member country or Cooperating State applies to join the Action. Please note that COST approvals are also required.
  • When the MC wants to engage in additional eligible scientific activities that were not foreseen in the approved Work and Budget Plan – please note that Science Officer approval is also required;
  • When the MC Chair wants to cancel scientific activities that were foreseen in the approved Work and Budget Plan – please note that Science Officer approval may also be required;
  • For lowering the accommodation flat rate for all participants (which is by default set at a maximum permissible amount of 120 EUR per night). Please note that for each individual meeting, all participants who are eligible to be reimbursed must receive the same accommodation flat rate;
  • For lowering the meal allowance flat rate for all participants (which is by default set at a maximum permissible amount of 20 EUR per meal up to a maximum of 2 meals per day). Please note that for each individual meeting, all participants who are eligible to be reimbursed must receive the same meal flat rate allowance;
  • When budgetary pressures are evident, the MC can agree to cap the amount that will be reimbursed to each participant. The maximum flat rate allowances must at all times be respected. The relevant capping should be applied to travel expenses and not to the accommodation/meal expenses.

Decisions taken by majority vote at MC meetings must be recorded in MC Meeting minutes and can only take effect if at least one representative from two thirds of the Participating Countries is in attendance.

The MC meeting minutes recording the decision must be filed with the documents that are relevant to why the MC approval was originally sought and must be uploaded onto the e-COST platform.

If applicable, the email used to secure MC approval by ‘written procedure or e-vote’ must be filed with the documents that are relevant to why the MC approval was originally sought and must be uploaded onto the e-COST platform. 

The reimbursement of each participant attending approved Meetings (all types) and approved Training Schools must be consistent with the eligibility rules – See Section 3, 4 and 5 – as set out in the COST Vademecum.

2.5. How to evidence that Management Committee (MC) Approval has been attained?

Management Committee (MC) Approval can be attained in two ways.

2.5.1. As MC decisions formally recorded in MC meeting minutes

Decisions taken by majority vote at MC meetings must be recorded in MC Meeting minutes and can only take effect if at least one representative from two thirds of the participating COST Member countries (and Cooperating State) is in attendance.

The MC meeting minutes recording the decision must be filed with the documents that are relevant to why the MC approval was originally sought and must be uploaded onto the e-COST platform.

2.5.2. As MC decisions formalised by ‘written procedure’ in the form of a notification email

The MC can also formally approve decisions by means of ‘written procedure’ which involves the Chair (or vice-Chair if the Chair is also based in the Grant Holder institution) or the Grant Holder on behalf of the Chair (or vice-Chair) sending a communication, by email, detailing the need for MC approval to the entire MC and must specify a date up to which any MC Delegate can contest their disapproval for implementing the proposed change. This ‘written procedure’ is commonly known as an e-vote and operates on the premise of presumed consent which denotes that if the majority of MC delegates do not respond directly to the respective notifications then the MC Chair (or vice-Chair) and Grant Holder can assume that the MC are in agreement. If the majority of MC delegates oppose the proposed changes then the intended changes cannot take effect.

The email used to secure MC approval by ‘written procedure’ must be filed with the documents that are relevant to why the MC approval was originally sought and must be uploaded onto the e-COST platform.

2.6. Where are MC approvals to be filed?

Depending on which method of Management Committee (MC) approval was chosen, the Grant Holder must archive either the meeting minutes or the approval emails (as ascertained by ‘written procedure’) with the file in question.

Example 1: If MC approval is sought for approving a Work and Budget Plan, then the MC approval should be filed with the relevant documents for which the approval was sought namely the approved Work and Budget Plan or Annex A.

Example 2: If MC approval is sought for the lowering of the flat rate afforded for accommodation expenses specifically related to an approved meeting or Training School, then the relevant minutes or approval email must be filed with the relevant attendance list, the participants to be reimbursed list and the associated reimbursement documents related to the given meeting or Training School. 

If the MC approval affects multiple meetings i.e. the lowering of the accommodation flat rate across numerous meetings, then the approval method used to validate the decision in question, namely the communication used to secure MC approval by ‘written procedure’ or the MC meeting minutes which recorded the MC decision, must be filed with the administrative documents required to process the associated payment(s).

2.7. When can the Action Chair (or vice-Chair if the Chair is also based in the Grant Holder institution) make formal decisions on behalf of the Management Committee (MC)?

The Action Chair (or vice-Chair if the Chair is also based in the Grant Holder institution) can make formal decisions on behalf of the Management Committee (MC) in the following instances:

  • Well in advance of all type of approved COST meetings and Training Schools, the Action Chair (or vice-Chair if the Chair is also based in the Grant Holder institution) must communicate, to the Grant Holder, the final list of participants who are to be invited to the approved meeting. This list must clearly indicate who from this list will be reimbursed and who will not be reimbursed (For Management Committee (MC) Meetings, all MC Members are entitled to be reimbursed);
  • When signing off on the ‘Participants to be Reimbursed List’ which validates who is eligible to be reimbursed for both approved meetings and Training Schools;
  • When a Local Organiser applies for a Local Organiser Support (LOS) grant, the Chair (or vice-Chair if the Chair is also based in the Grant Holder institution) must pre-approve the number of estimated participants who can attend the approved meeting/Training School and must deliver the ensuing post-approval confirming the actual amount that can be paid to the Local Organiser in line with LOS guidelines detailed in the COST Vademecum section 6;
  • When pre-approving STSM applications and delivering the ensuing post-approval confirming that the STSM grant can be paid. This responsibility can also be delegated, subject to MC approval, to a formally appointed MC Member acting as the STSM coordinator or to a formally appointed panel of MC members who form the STSM committee;
  • When approving payments linked to publications and dissemination activities that were foreseen and agreed in the approved Work and Budget Plan.

2.8. When is the Action Science Officer (SO) required to formally approve activities that represent a deviation from what was agreed in the approved Work and Budget Plan?

2.8.1. When is the Science Officer (SO) approval required?

You will need written approval from the SO when there are significant changes to the planned scientific activities detailed in the approved Work and Budget Plan. Such changes would be:

  • Additional unforeseen scientific activities – such as additional meetings/Training Schools  
  • And/or additional funds required for publications;
  • Cancellation of an approved activity;
  • Major change in the scope of an approved activity

Written approval from the SO must be sought prior to engaging in new additional previously unforeseen activities.

2.8.2. Written approval from the SO is not required in the following instances:

  • When a lower/higher than foreseen amount of meeting participants will be attending one of the approved meetings;
  • When a lower/higher amount of Local Organiser Support is required than what was foreseen in the approved Work and Budget Plan. Please make sure that each Local Organiser fully complies with the COST rules. If in doubt, contact your Action Administrative Officer;
  • When a meeting location and/or meeting date is not the same as that detailed in the approved Work and Budget Plan - (Please note that all meetings must be held in participating COST Member Countries (and Cooperating State) and all meeting dates have to be held in their entirety within the respective Grant Period);
  • When a lower or higher number of STSMs are performed beyond what was foreseen in the approved Work and Budget Plan. 

If you have any doubt about whether you need to obtain COST approval or not, then you should contact the Action Science Officer for clarification prior to engaging in the activity.

3. Approved Meetings: who is Eligible to be Reimbursed? – Further Clarification

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3.1. Can Management Committee (MC) Members attend and be reimbursed for their participation in more than one Working Group (WG) at a time?

Management Committee (MC) members can attend and be reimbursed for their participation in more than one Working Group (WG) at a time. The composition of each working group is determined by the MC.

3.2. Who can be reimbursed for their attendance at Working Group (WG) meetings other than Management Committee (MC) delegates?

A Working Group (WG) member is a Researcher and/or technical specialist who is affiliated to an institution located in a COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member participating in the Action. Subject to the Management Committee (MC) approving their participation in the approved WG meeting, budget permitting, there is no limit in the number of WG members that can attend approved WG meetings.

Beyond inviting Researchers from participating COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member countries, the MC can invite up to a maximum of 4 Invited Speakers who are Researchers and/or technical specialists affiliated to institutions based in either non-participating COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member countries and/or non-approved institutions located in International Partners Countries (IPC).

For approved WG meetings, conferences and workshops, there are no limits to the amount of MC Observers from approved European RTD Organisations that can be invited and reimbursed. However, only one participant from each approved European RTD Organisation is eligible to be reimbursed for their attendance at an approved MC Meeting.

Researchers based in approved institutions that are located in Near Neighbour Countries (NNC) are also eligible to be reimbursed for their attendance at approved WG meetings. There is no limit to the amount of Researchers from approved institutions based in NNC that can be invited and reimbursed for their attendance at approved WG meetings. Please note that for NNC participation in MC Meetings, that 1 representative from each approved institution and up to a maximum of 2 representatives from that country can be reimbursed irrespective of how many institutions from that country have joined the Action.

The COST rules which determine participant eligibility and reimbursement entitlements for all types of approved meetings are defined in section 3 and 4 of the COST Vademecum and must be respected in all instances.

The Action Chair on behalf of MC (or vice-Chair if the Chair is also based in the Grant Holder institution) must formally approve the participation of WG members on a meeting-by-meeting basis.

3.3. Is it possible to invite more than 4 Invited Speakers to an approved meeting?

Strictly a maximum of 4 Invited Speakers from non-participating COST Member countries or from non-approved institutions based in IPC can be reimbursed for their participation in an approved meeting / conference. 

Researchers affiliated to an approved institutions located in IPC are not eligible to be reimbursed for their attendance at COST meetings but are eligible to be reimbursed for their attendance at Training Schools as a Trainer.

3.4. Multiple meetings are being held over the same time period at the same location. Can more than 4 Invited Speakers be invited and reimbursed?

For co-located meetings (co-located being meetings which are held in the same location and over the same time period), a maximum of 4 Invited Speakers in total from both non-participating COST countries and from non-approved institutions based in IPC can be reimbursed for the series of meetings in question. Co-located meetings no matter how numerous are considered as 1 meeting.

3.5. Multiple meetings are being held in conjunction with a Training School over the same time period at the same venue / city. How many Invited Speakers can be reimbursed?

A Training School held in conjunction with co-located meetings – meaning a series of COST meetings and a COST Training School held at the same venue / in the same city over the same time period are categorised as two different networking tools – when this event takes place, up to 4 Invited speakers from both non-participating COST Full Member / COST Cooperating Member countries and from non-approved institutions based in IPC can be reimbursed for the series of meetings in question and similarly, up to 4 Invited Speakers can be reimbursed to attend the approved Training School permitting up to 8 Invited Speakers in total to be reimbursed for their attendance at the co-located activities. The limit of 4 Invited Speakers for each category of networking tool must always be respected.

3.6. Can Researchers from approved institutions based in International Partner Countries (IPC) be reimbursed for their attendance at approved COST meetings?

Researchers from approved institutions located in International Partner Countries (IPC) are not eligible to be reimbursed for their attendance at meetings and conferences or any COST Activity other than their attendance as a Trainer at an approved Training School. 

For extra clarity, it is important to reiterate that Researchers affiliated to an approved institution located in IPC can only be reimbursed for their attendance as a Trainer at an approved Training School but not for any type of approved meeting, conference or workshop.

3.7. Can Researchers from approved institutions based in Near Neighbour Countries (NNC) be reimbursed for their attendance at approved COST meetings?

When a formally approved institution is based in a “Near-Neighbour Country (NNC)” then 1 representative from each approved institution up to a maximum of 2 representatives from the NNC irrespective of how many institutions within that country have been approved, can be reimbursed for their attendance at an MC meeting. For WG meetings, budget permitting, there is no imposed limit to the amount of Researchers from approved NNC institutions that can be invited and reimbursed for their attendance at any approved meeting. 

The complete list of Near Neighbour Countries can be found here.

4. Common Issues Arising when Processing Travel Claims – Further Clarification

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4.1. Deviations in the travel routes taken by an eligible participant – how do I process this claim?

A participant who is eligible to be reimbursed can claim up to the cost of the most economical return flights/train journey from the country where the eligible participant is residing (country of residence being the country where the participant is registered on their e-COST profile) to where the approved COST meeting is being held. If there is a deviation in the participants travel itinerary because the participant needed to travel to/from an alternative destination then you must ask the participant to do the following:

  • One month before the approved meeting, the participant must provide a price quote (a print out from Skyscanner / Opodo / Expedia or another reputable airfare search engine) showing a list of the most economical return flights around the dates of the approved meeting between the country where the eligible participant is residing (country of residence being the country where the participant is registered on their e-COST profile) and the country to where the approved COST meeting is being held.
  • The participant must also provide a copy of the invoice and the complete travel itinerary of the actual tickets that were purchased.
  • The participant must clearly explain the reason for the travel deviation on the remarks section on their OTRR claim form.

Example: a Spanish MC Member flies from Spain to an approved meeting in Belgium but their flight itinerary contains a flight deviation namely they travelled from Spain to Belgium and then onto another meeting in Denmark. The ticket for the three legs of the trip costs 450 EUR. The participant must provide you with a price quote showing the cheapest return ticket available from Spain to Belgium. Let us say that the quote substantiates that the cheapest return ticket from Spain to Belgium is 275 EUR. Then the participant can be reimbursed a maximum of 275 EUR for their airfare expenses.

For the travel deviations detailed in this section, the participant can never be reimbursed for more than the most economical flight substantiated on the price quote and never more than the actual amount paid for the flight ticket that was purchased by the participant. The lower of the two amounts determines the maximum sum that can be reimbursed to the claimant.

Please note that the actual ticket itinerary and invoice along with a print out of the cheapest price quote must be filed with the participants signed and completed reimbursement claim form (OTRR) and supporting documents. The participant must clearly explain the reason for the travel deviation on the remarks section on their OTRR claim form.

4.2. Expenses claimed specifically due to medical illness and cases of Force Majeure, what to do?

If an eligible participant (or a first degree relative of an eligible participant) suffers from a medical illness or if an eligible participant encounters a case of Force Majeure (e.g. a strike or natural disaster) and, as a result, there is an expressed need to cancel / change travel ticket (s) and / or hotel reservation (s), then non-refundable amounts or additional expenses can be considered as being eligible for reimbursement. The non-refundable amounts or additional expenses linked to the above must always be calculated against the face value of the incurred travel, accommodation and meal expenses (face value being the amounts evidenced on submitted receipts / invoices). The rules (maximum thresholds) governing eligible travel expenses (see Section 4.1.3., 4.1.4. and 4.1.5. of the COST Vademecum) must be respected. Extra accommodation and meal expenses being claimed due to medical illness / Force Majeure can never exceed the MC agreed set flat rate amounts for the given activity.

Each eligible participant claiming expenses linked to medical illness / Force Majeure must submit a completed, signed and dated OTRR, all of the relevant invoices and receipts and if applicable, a statement from the respective service provider (s) (airline company, hotel etc.) detailing the non-refundable amounts. Claimants must also always submit to their Grant Holder, written documentary evidence justifying their claim – i.e. submitting a medical certificate in cases related to medical illness or a statement from the airline company / service provider in cases linked to Force Majeure substantiating the nature of the Force Majeure. The Grant Holder must in turn submit all supporting documentation provided by the participant to the COST Association for formal approval prior to the respective claim being paid to the participant.

The COST Association considers each claim request linked to medical illness and Force Majeure on a case by case basis and reserves the right to reject any such request.

4.3. Can eligible participants claim for Travel Insurance?

Life insurance, medical insurance, travel cancellation insurance and luggage insurance are all non-eligible expenses.

4.4. Does a participant need to submit boarding passes when submitting their flight ticket justifications?

The eligible participant will need to submit boarding passes to substantiate their travel times only when their submitted invoice/travel itinerary does not detail their travel times. Both travel dates and the timings must be clearly visible on all travel itineraries.

4.5. When travelling by Car to an approved COST Meeting, can a participant be reimbursed for toll charges?

Toll charges are not an eligible cost. The use of a private or rented car is reimbursed on the basis of 0.20 EUR per KM travelled for when one eligible COST participant is travelling. If there are two eligible COST participants travelling in the same car then an amount of 0.30 EUR per KM can be reimbursed to the driver for each KM travelled. The name of second passenger must be declared on the remarks section of the travel reimbursement request form of the claimant who is actually claiming the car expenses.

4.6. Can a taxi expense be reimbursed if the taxi was taken during eligible times (between 22:00 and 07:00) numerous days before or after the meeting?

With respect to an eligible participant claiming travel expenses for their attendance at an approved COST meeting / Training School, taxis taken to and from a participants residence/institution to the airport and a taxi taken to and from the participants hotel and the airport between the times of 22:00 and 07:00 are eligible for reimbursement however many days before the participant arrives at/departs the city where the approved meeting is being held. The maximum amount permissible of EUR 80 for taxi use is applicable.

4.7. If a participant is travelling to an approved meeting destination one week before the meeting date, can they be reimbursed for their travel expenses?

A participant who is eligible to be reimbursed for their participation at an approved COST meeting can claim for the expenses incurred whilst travelling from their residence (their country of residence being the country where the participant is registered on their e-COST profile) to where the approved COST meeting is being held and back to their residence irrespective of the dates of travel.

5. Reimbursing Accommodation/Meals Expenses – Common Queries

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5.1. The average cost of a hotel room around the vicinity of the meeting venue is much lower than default accommodation flat rate allowance of 120 EUR per night. Can the default accommodation flat rate allowance be lowered to optimise the budget?

The average cost of a hotel room around the vicinity of the meeting venue is much lower than default accommodation flat rate allowance of 120 EUR per night. Can the default accommodation flat rate allowance be lowered to optimise the budget?

The accommodation flat rate allowance can be lowered to optimize the budget. To do this, the Grant Holder needs to get MC approval. Please note that for every meeting, irrespective of whether the MC agrees to lower the set flat rate or not, all participants must receive the same flat rate allowance. Participants eligible for reimbursement must be formally notified about the adjusted flat rate (s) by email prior to receiving their e-COST invitation.

Please note that the accommodation flat rate allowance can never exceed 120 EUR per night.

Please note that for each individual meeting that all participants must receive the same flat rate allowance.

All participants must be advised by the Action Chair (or vice-Chair) / Grant Holder by email of any lowering of the default flat rate prior to the formal invitations being sent via e-COST.

5.2. Meal flat rates are by default set at 20 EUR per meal – can the meal flat rate allowance be reduced to reflect the lower cost of living in the country where the approved meeting is being held?

The meal allowance flat rate for participants can be lowered. The meal allowance is by default set at a maximum permissible amount of 20 EUR per meal and up to a maximum of 2 meals per day can be claimed depending on the participants travel times and whether meals have been provided by the Local Organiser and/or other sources and therefore must be deducted from the participant’s meal entitlement.

Please note that the flat rate allowance for each eligible meal can never exceed 20 EUR.

Please note that for each individual meeting, all participants that are eligible to be reimbursed must receive the same meal flat rate allowance.

All participants must be advised by the Action Chair (or vice-Chair) / Grant Holder by email of any lowering of the default flat rate prior to the formal invitations being sent via e-COST.

5.3. A participant left his hotel early in the morning to catch a flight and consequently missed their breakfast at the hotel and would like to claim 20 EUR for their breakfast expenses – is this an eligible cost?

Breakfast expenses are not an eligible cost.

5.4. What timings determine how many meals a participant is entitled to receive?

During the actual meeting dates, a participant can claim 2 meals per day – lunch and dinner. If meals are provided by the local organizer or by a meeting sponsor then the participants meal entitlement must be adjusted downwards accordingly. 

When travelling to and from the meeting venue, the timings which determine how many meals a participant is entitled to receive on these given days are as follows:
 

When a participants travel starts (when they leave their residence/institution) 
When a participants travel ends (they arrive back at their residence) 
Before 12.00 = 2 meals 
Before 12.00 = No meals provided 
After 12.00 = 1 meal 
Before 19.00 = 1 meal 
After 19.00 = No meals provided 
After 19.00 = 2 meals 

 

Please note that an eligible participant can claim up to 2 meals per day (lunch and dinner) up to 1 day before and 1 day after the approved meeting with the actual travel times always taking precedence over the 1 day rule. 

If meals are provided by the local organiser or by a meeting sponsor then the participant’s meal entitlement must be adjusted downwards accordingly.

5.5. How many meals should be awarded if a participant’s travel schedule begins and/or ends more than 1 day either side of the meeting?

When a participant travels to and from a meeting destination numerous days before and/or after the approved meeting took place, the meal allowance calculation should be applied using the actual travel timings as if the participant travelled one day before and one day after the approved meeting. The actual travel times always take precedence if any part of the travel falls within 1 day either side of the meeting date.

Example: A participants begins their journey 2 days before an approved meeting scheduled to be held on 28th of April (travel starts on the 26th of April at 1pm). The meeting lasts for 2 full days and the participant returns back to the country they are representing the day after the meeting (30th of April) at 11.30pm.

The starting time for the participant’s meal claims is the 27th of April at 1pm (1 day before and not 2 days – the 1 day rule applies) and not the 26th of April which was the actual time the participant began their travel to the COST meeting. The participant can claim for meals up to the 30th April at 11.30pm.

Please note that lunches and meals provided to participants by the Local Organiser and/or other sources must be deducted from their meal entitlements.

6. Training Schools - Further Clarification

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6.1. Can Researchers based in approved institutions located in Near Neighbour Countries (NNC) be eligible to receive a grant to attend a Training School as a Trainee?

Researchers from approved institutions based in a Near Neighbour Countries are eligible to receive a grant to support their attendance at a Training School as a Trainee.

6.2. Can Researchers based in approved institutions located in International Partner Countries (IPC) be eligible to receive a grant to attend a Training School as a Trainee?

Researchers located in an approved institution located in an International Partner Countries (IPC) are not eligible to receive a Trainee Grant. 

Please note that Researchers located in an IPC approved institution are eligible to be reimbursed as a Trainer.

7. Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM) - Further Clarification

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7.1. What is the web address which gives the applicant access to the online STSM application form?

The online STSM application form can be accessed at www.cost.eu/STSM (link opens in new window, an e-COST profile is required and can be created if needed).

7.2. An applicant wants to engage in an STSM that spans across two Grant Periods – is this possible?

No, all STSM activities must occur in their entirety within one Grant Period. The STSM applicant can however submit two separate STSM applications each falling within their respective Grant Periods. The entire procedure must, in effect, be done twice.

7.3. At the end of the STSM procedure, what documents do I need to have in place to demonstrate that the STSM procedure has been fully adhered to?

The document set required to evidence that the STSM procedure has been fully adhered to, is as follows:

Collected Before the STSM 

  1. Letter of invitation to the applicant from a senior Researcher affiliated to the Host institution
  2. STSM application form
  3. A support letter / Email from the Home Institution
  4. A full C.V. of the applicant (including a list of academic publications – if applicable)
  5. MC Pre-approval (Email from delegated person

Pre-approval Email Template

Dear Grant Manager,

Subject: Pre-approval [STSM Reference number, COST Action number, Applicants name, Grant amount]

On behalf of the MC, I formally approve the STSM application of [Name of Applicant] to be performed between [the Start Date of the Activity and the End Date of the Activity] at the[Name of Institute]. The applicant can receive a fixed Grant of [Amount in Euro] subject to the administrative requirements being satisfied within 30 day after the end date of the STSM.

[Name of STSM Coordinator / Committee Member]

[Institution of contact person]

[Address of contact person]

[Telephone Number of contact person]

[Email address of contact person]

End of Pre-approval Email Template

Collected After the STSM 

  1. A one page Scientific Report detailing the activities undertaken.
  2. An official letter / Email confirmation from a senior Researcher affiliated to the Host institution formally accepting the scientific report
  3. MC Post-approval (Email from delegated person)

Before the STSM Grant is formally approved and can be paid, the Grant Manager must receive an email from the STSM Coordinator/Committee Member stating that the STSM has been successfully completed and that the scientific report has been accepted. 

Post-approval Email Template

Subject: Post-approval [STSM Reference number, COST Action number, Grantees name, Grant amount] 

On behalf of the MC, I formally approve the scientific report submitted by [Name of Applicant]detailing theresearch activitiesperformed during the STSM held between the [Start Date of the Activity and the End Date of the Activity] at the [Name of Institute]. I confirm that the administrative requirements have been satisfied and that the grant can be paid. 

[Name of STSM coordinator / Committee Member]

[Institution of contact person]

[Address of contact person]

[Telephone Number of contact person]

[Email address of contact person] 

End of Post-approval Email Template

The Grant Manager can only instruct their respective Financial Officer to process the payment of the STSM grant once both of the above mentioned approvals are in place. All administrative requirements must also be checked for consistency and filed before the payment can be made. The Grant Holder must archive the payment remittance showing the Beneficiary name, the grant amount and the bank account (bank name, name of account holder, IBAN and Swift/BIC) to where the STSM grant was paid.

Checklist of Administrative requirements for STSM

 

  1. Letter of invitation to the applicant from a senior Researcher affiliated to the Host institution
  2. STSM application form
  3. A motivation letter from the applicant including a work plan detailing the proposed activities
  4. A support letter / Email from the Home Institution
  5. A full C.V. of the applicant (including a list of academic publications – if applicable)
  6. MC Pre-approval (Email from delegated person see: How to obtain MC Approvals for STSM) confirming that the respective STSM application was successful and that the chosen applicant can commence their STSM within the agreed conditions
  7. A scientific report
  8. An official letter / Email from a senior Researcher affiliated to the Host institution formally accepting the scientific report
  9. MC Post-approval (Email from delegated person – see: How to obtain MC Approvals for STSM) confirming that the STSM was completed successfully; the scientific report was accepted, the administrative requirements have been satisfied and that the Grant can be paid to the applicant
  10. Payment remittance showing the Beneficiary name, the Grant amount and the bank account details to where the STSM was paid

8. Dissemination Activities – Further Clarification

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8.1. What documentation does the Grant Holder need to justify the expenses associated with Web Development and Maintenance in the event of an audit?

As Grant Holder, you must be able to produce on demand invoices (if web services are performed by an external contractor) or time sheets (if web services are performed by an in-house developer) which validate the work performed and the amounts paid for the services provided. Either way, you need to evidence the name of the person performing the tasks, the hourly/daily rate (including social charges if services provided in-house by an employee), the amount of hours worked on the activities and a summary of the work performed. V.A.T. on any invoice (possibly submitted by an external contractor) is not eligible for reimbursement. Essentially, the amount encoded into e-COST must always exclude V.A.T.

All activities performed and referred to on any invoice must be performed in their entirety within the respective Grant Period and must be relevant to the COST related tasks detailed in the approved Work and Budget Plan.

9. Other Expenses Related to Scientific Activities (OERSA) - Further Clarification

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9.1. What expenses can be claimed under OERSA?

Eligible bank fees can be claimed under OERSA.

9.2. What exactly are bank fees?

Bank fees are charges commonly incurred by institutions when making international payment transfers to stakeholders who are entitled to receive COST funds. These bank charges are eligible to be claimed by the Grant Holder and must be reported under the OERSA budget line. Proof of such charges in the form of bank statements evidencing the exact amounts charged by the bank in question must be made available by the Grant Holder institution in the event of an audit. The references on the bank statements must able to qualify that the incurred charges are specifically related to eligible COST activities.

Please note that bank fees generated due to the processing of grant payments by COST to Grant Holder institutions are not eligible.

9.3. How are expenses that are not incurred in Euro processed?

Incurred expenses must be encoded into e-COST in the currency that is specified on the relevant invoice/ticket. For example, if a return airfare costs 30,000 Hungarian Forint then it is this amount that needs to be encoded into e-COST. The exchange rate is automatically calculated and converted into Euro by e-COST.

If the currency specified on the relevant invoice/ticket is not automatically calculated by e-COST, then the expense must be encoded in Euro. The invoice justifying the encoded amount must be accompanied by a print-out from the following currency convertor site validating the exchange rate used for calculating the expense in question, namely: InforEuro. The web address for InforEuro is detailed below and is the official website provided by the European Commission. 

InforEuro shows an aggregate exchange rate applicable to each calendar month. The chosen month must match exactly the month when the travel dates in question occurred. If the travel dates span across two month then the month relevant to when the travel dates ended should be used.

9.4. Who absorbs the bank charge if a reimbursement is rejected due to incorrect bank details being provided by a participant?

Any fees or charges related to returned or rejected payments due to the Action participant providing incorrect bank account information may be subtracted from the amount reimbursed to the participant.

10. Financial and Scientific Administration and Coordination (FSAC) – Further Clarification

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10.1. How is the FSAC calculated?

At the end of each Grant Period, the FSAC is calculated by applying the agreed fixed percentage of the FSAC (which is detailed in the approved Work and Budget Plan (and the Annex A to the Grant Agreement) to the actual incurred eligible scientific expenditure. The actual FSAC amount is specified on page 2 of the validated Final Financial Report (FFR).

10.2. Can the FSAC exceed 15.00% of the total Grant?

The FSAC can never exceed 15.00% of the actual incurred eligible scientific expenditure.

10.3. Can the percentage of FSAC approved in the Work and Budget Plan (and Annex A) change during an on-going Grant Period?

The percentage of FSAC fixed in the approved Work and Budget Plan cannot be modified during the Grant Period in question.

However, when an amendment to the Grant Agreement is necessary, a possible percentage increase in the FSAC can be considered only if a valid justification is provided. In any case, the revised FSAC amount cannot exceed 15% of the amount allocated for eligible scientific activities. COST shall consider a request for an increase in FSAC on a case-by-case basis and will determine after careful consideration whether such an increase is possible.

10.4. In the role of Grant Manager, there is a need to travel to approved meeting to ensure that the Action Chair is adequately supported to handle the associated administrative workload – how is this travel funded?

The reimbursement of the travel, accommodation and meal expenses incurred by the Grant Manager when travelling to and from approved COST activities must be drawn from the FSAC as the Grant Manager cannot be reimbursed under the Action's scientific expenditure. However, if the Grant Manager is also participating in the Action in a Researcher capacity, meaning that their participation in the Action is not purely administrative i.e. the Grant Manager is also a MC Member / MC Substitute / WG Member / STSM Grantee or Trainer / Trainee, then the associated eligble travel, accommodation and meal expenses can be sourced from the scientific expenditure budget lines. The eligibility rules detailed in Section 3, 4, 5 and 7 of the COST Vademecum must at all times be respected.

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Last updated: 29 July 2014 top of page

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