Many ACP local governments are interested in applying in the European Commission (EC) call for proposals. However, very few succeed in having their project funded. This article tries to explain how to write a good project. One should know that the base of the EC grant application form is the same for any call for proposals (either for the ‘Non-state actors and local authority’ programme, or ‘investing in people’ programme, ‘European instrument for democracy and human rights’ programme, etc.) and can be downloaded at
This base is adapted to each call for proposals by the service in the Commission in charge of the call.
In general, applicants have to only submit the concept note in the first phase. Only those who have their concept note pre-selected, will be invited to submit the complete application form. Therefore, let us concentrate on how to write a good concept note.
First rule: Strictly follow the instructions for the drafting of the concept note. It should not exceed 4 full pages (A4 size). In order to give a chance to your application to be selected, take into consideration the scores in the evaluation grid. The size of each section should reflect the relative importance of each heading. The concept note contains three headings: relevance of the action (15 points out of a total of 50); description of the action and its effectiveness (25 points); and sustainability of the action (10 points). Therefore, the second heading ‘description of the action and its effectiveness’ should be given priority and be longer, then the first heading ‘relevance of the action’ and finally the third heading ‘sustainability of the action’.
Second rule: Reply to questions raised in the instructions. These are:
1. Relevance of the Action
· Provide a general presentation and analysis of the problems and their interrelation at all levels.
· Identify clearly specific problems to be addressed by the action.
· Include a brief description of the target groups and final beneficiaries.
· Demonstrate the relevance of the proposal to the needs and constraints in general of the target country(ies) or region(s) and to the target groups/final beneficiary groups in particular.
· Demonstrate the relevance of the proposal to the objectives and priorities and requirements of the call for proposals.
2. Description of the action and its effectiveness
Provide a description of the proposed action including, where relevant, background information that led to the presentation of this proposal. This should include:
· A description of the overall objective of the action, duration, expected results;
· A description of the proposed activities and their effectiveness;
· Involvement of any implementing partners, their role and relationship to the applicant, if applicable;
· Other possible stakeholders (national, local government, private sector, etc.), their anticipated role and/or potential attitudes towards the project.
3. Sustainability of the action
· Provide an initial risk analysis and possible contingency plans. This should include at least a list of risks associated with each main activity proposed accompanied by relevant corrective measures to mitigate such risks. A good risk analysis would include a range of risk types including physical, environmental, political, economic and social risks.
· Give the main preconditions and assumptions during and after the implementation phase.
· Explain how sustainability will be secured after completion of the action. This can include aspects of necessary measures and strategies built into the action, follow-up activities, ownership by target groups, etc.
Budget: The concept note should not contain any budget. However applicants have to indicate an estimate of the total eligible costs of the action together with the amount of contribution and percentage requested from the European Commission. Only applicants invited to submit a full proposal in the second phase will be required to present a detailed budget. This detailed budget may not vary from the initial estimate by more than 20%. Therefore, in order not to exceed the 20%, it might be prudent, in the first phase, to already prepare the budget without submitting it but indicating only the total amount.
How to write the budget? You have to fill in the form that can be downloaded at
http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/work/procedures/i... and break down costs according to the following items:
· Human Resources:
- Salaries (local)
§ Administrative/support staff
- Salaries (expatriated/international staff)
- Per diems for missions/travel
§ Seminar/conference participants
- International travel
- Local transportation
· Equipment and supplies
- Purchase or rent of vehicles
- Furniture, computer equipment
- Machines, tools …
- Spare parts/equipment for machines, tools
- Other (please specify)
· Local office
- Vehicle costs
- Office rent
- Consumables – office supplies
- Other services (tel/fax, electricity/heating, maintenance)
· Other costs, services
- Publications (only indicate here when fully subcontracted)
- Studies, research (only indicate here when fully subcontracted)
- Expenditure verification
- Evaluation costs
- Translation, interpreters
- Financial services (bank guarantee costs, etc.)
- Costs of conferences/seminars (only indicate here when fully subcontracted)
- Visibility actions
· Subtotal direct eligible costs of the action (A)
· Provision for contingency reserve (maximum 5% of A)
· Total direct eligible costs of the action (B)
· Administrative costs (maximum 7% of B)
· Total eligible costs