Under the 6th Research Framework Programme (FP6) the European Commission granted consortia greater flexibility in project management issues and hence transferred a large chunk of the responsibility to individual project partners. This trend continues with FP7. Whilst this results in more flexibility, it also means that consortia and particularly the project coordinators face harder requirements concerning project management. A particularly difficult challenge for them is the harmonisation of the diverse interests and objectives of the participating individuals and institutions.
As a contract, the Consortium Agreement (CA) decisively limits the potential for conflicts amongst the project partners and also helps to ensure that conflicts are avoided from the word go. In FP6, the conclusion of Consortium Agreements was mandatory for big projects only. However, in FP7 consortium agreements are obligatory for all funding schemes unless otherwise provided for in the call for proposals.
The consortium agreement only governs the relations between the participants themselves and it should be noted that the European Commission is not a contracting party to this agreement. The legal provisions which regulate the relations between consortium and the Commission are laid down in the Grant Agreement. In any case, the Grant Agreement’s regulations take priority over those of the Consortium Agreement.