C.2.1 Legal entities eligible as lead partners or project partners
Only legal entities can become project or lead partners. They have to fall into one of the legal status categories of the Programme.
A legal entity is a person or organisation with legal personality, possessing separate and distinct legal rights. A legal entity can, among other things, enter into contracts, own property, engage in business, pay taxes, sue and be sued. In many cases, a legal entity has an organisation identification number.
The Programme accepts organisations from the following legal status categories:
Category a) Public;
Category b) Private.
Legal entities falling into category a) are:
National (governmental), regional and local public authorities;
‘Bodies governed by public law’, i.e. bodies that have all of the following characteristics
DIRECTIVE 2014/24/EU Article 2(1)
i.) They are established for the specific purpose of meeting needs in the general interest, not having an industrial or commercial character; and
ii.) They have legal personality; and
iii.) They are financed, for the most part, by the State, regional or local authorities, or by other bodies governed by public law; or subject to management supervision by those authorities or bodies; or have an administrative, managerial or supervisory board, more than half of whose members are appointed by the State, regional or local authorities, or by other bodies governed by public law.
Associations formed by one or more national (governmental), regional or local authorities one or more ‘bodies governed by public law’;
Bodies having legal personality that fulfil criteria iii) characteristic of ’bodies governed by public law' and provide, inter alia, services of general economic interest;
European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation
REGULATION (EU) 1302/2013
Legal entities falling into category b) are:
European Economic Interest Grouping
REGULATION (EEC) 2137/1985
Other private bodies not falling into any of the aforementioned categories.
The responsible authorities of the EU Member States participating in the Programme as well as Norway will verify the eligibility of applicants and the accuracy of the statements of the legal status before an application is approved by the Monitoring Committee.
A legal entity may act as lead partner if it falls into legal status category a).
Furthermore, the legal entity has to follow the requirements as detailed in chapter C.1.2 on geographical composition.
C.2.2 Legal entities ineligible as lead partners or project partners
Non-compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
Any legal entity (or an entity controlled by it or dependent on it) which has taken any discriminatory measures or is otherwise disrespecting the fundamental rights laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is not eligible as a lead partner or project partner. The responsible authorities of the EU Member States participating in the Programme as well as Norway will, if aware of, indicate non-compliance with this
requirement during the verification of the applicants’ eligibility (cf. chapter C.2.1).
Undertakings in difficulty
Undertakings in difficulty cannot become project partners or lead partners. Each lead partner or project partner has to confirm compliance with this requirement in the partner declaration.¹
¹REGULATION (EU) 2021/1059, Article 1 in conjunction with REGULATION (EU) 2021/1058, Article 7(1) d) of: The definition of COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) 651/2014, Article 2 point 18 applies.
In the Programme project partners cannot function as ‘umbrella partners’. They cannot act on behalf of and collect funding for other legal entities. Only legal entities that fulfil the role of a project partner or lead partner are entitled to receive funding. The MA/JS will check the fulfilment of this requirement during the quality assessment phase.
Project coordination, management, communication and consulting companies
A company cannot become a project partner if its main activity within its business profile and its role in the project consists of project coordination, management, communication and consulting. This is particularly the case if these activities are indispensable to secure the revenue of this company. The MA/JS will check the fulfilment of this requirement during the quality assessment phase.
If any of the above cases is discovered, the legal entity in question will be removed from the
partnership and any Programme funds paid to this entity will be subject to the recovery
C.2.3 Project partners outside the Programme area receiving ERDF or Norwegian co-financing
C.2.3.1 Legal Framework
Activities financed by ERDF should, as a general rule, take place in the Union part of the Programme area. In exceptional cases though, it might be useful to implement an activity outside this area and ensure the maximum benefit for the Programme area. EU legislation creates the legal background for these exceptional situations².
²REGULATION (EU) No 2021/1059 Article 38(1)
It is applicable on two levels:
- For organisations who want to become project partners and receive ERDF co-financing BUT are located in a country which is not part of the Programme area.
- For project partners located in an EU Member State covered by the Programme area who want to spend part of their ERDF co-financing in a country which is not part of the Programme area.
The chapter below explains the requirements for option a). The rules regarding option b) are explained under chapter J.
Besides the specific rules provided below, organisations interested in becoming project partners in the Programme need to comply with all the other requirements described in this chapter.
The maximum ERDF co-financing rate that organisations located outside the Programme area can receive is 80%. The maximum Norwegian co-financing rate that organisations located outside the Programme area can receive is 50%.
Organisations located in countries outside the Programme area that carry out State aid relevant activities are not allowed to participate as project partners. Please see chapter P for further details on the State aid approach of the Programme.
This rule does not apply to organisations registered in Germany or Norway but outside the Programme area.
C.2.3.2 Procedure for becoming a project partner
An organisation from an EU Member State or Norway outside the Programme area can become a project partner only if:
its participation brings added value and expertise to the project implementation; and
its participation is for the benefit of the Baltic Sea Region; and
its country of origin enters into agreement with the MA/JS of Interreg Baltic Sea Region on participation in the Programme.
The MA/JS will assess the first two above aspects during the quality assessment of the application.
The figure below sets out the steps and relevant requirements that organisations outside the Programme area have to fulfil from the application stage through to contracting.
Organisations registered in Germany or Norway but outside the Programme area will be treated as having the third condition (regarding the written agreement on the participation) automatically fulfilled due to Germany and Norway being Programme countries.