Key takeaways once your Horizon Europe project is over

Congratulations on the successful completion of your Horizon Europe project! But is it time to enjoy and forget about the strict requirements set by the project regulations? Not quite. Even after the project wraps up, certain provisions of your Grant Agreement continue. Here are some handy tips to keep in mind.

Keep the project records

First and foremost, you must save records of your project. As per Article 20 of the Grant Agreement (GA), it is mandatory to maintain the project records for up to 5 years after the final payment (refer to your GA to confirm the specific period for your project). Moreover, they should be verifiable and stored in the original versions, in the format in which they were received or created.

The reason behind this requirement is to be able to demonstrate the correct project implementation and compliance with the obligations outlined in the GA. In particular, you should be able to prove the eligibility of all the costs declared by demonstrating time records, contracts, invoices and other accounting evidence. Keep in mind that costs lacking adequate evidence (‘appropriate and sufficient’) may be subject to rejection, and this may lead the EC to claim their recovery.

You must be prepared to make the records available upon request (as per Article 19), or in case of further EC investigations.

Stay ready for potential EC audit

The EC may carry out its own investigations on the proper execution of the project and compliance with the obligations under the Grant Agreement, and they may take different forms. Article 25 defines them as checks, reviews and audits.

Checks can be done at any moment in order to verify any aspect related to the grant. They are internal and typically have a limited scope (such as when the EC requests additional information on specific topics during the evaluation of costs, deliverables, and reports).

If a deeper investigation is necessary, the EC may launch a review or an audit. These may be initiated up to 2 years after the last payment (doublecheck the Data Sheet in your GA) and will be considered effective on the date of the formal notification. Reviews typically focus on the technical implementation of the project (its scientific and technological implementation), while audits generally refer to the financial part. However, both may also cover other aspects of compliance under the GA obligations.

During the review or audit process you must provide all requested information and supporting documents, in the format and within the deadline specified. In case of on-the-spot investigations, granting access to your premises is necessary. Additionally, you might be called upon to attend related meetings, and if necessary, independent external experts or audit firms may also be engaged.

The procedures and findings are documented in a project review/audit report. Should the results reveal ineligible costs, significant errors, or serious breaches of GA obligations, consequences may include cost rejection, grant reduction, or even recovery.

Take care of the project results

Also, keep in mind the necessity of taking measures to exploit the project results, meaning turning them into concrete value for society.

This obligation must be fulfilled within 4 years following the project’s completion (refer to the Data Sheet of your project) and you are expected to use your best efforts to directly exploit the results or to have them exploited indirectly by another entity, in particular through transfer or licensing arrangements.

For further insights, have a look at Article 16 and Annex 5 of your Grant Agreement. Here there is also a risk of grant reduction if you breach any of obligations under this Article.

As you can see, certain requirements survive the completion of your project, potentially leading to additional checks and controls. This isn’t meant to instil fear, but if you find yourself anxious, feel free to reach out to us for reassurance: