The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) differ significantly in project accounting from the collaborative research projects in the rest of the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Instead of actual costs, MSCA reimburses monthly fixed amounts (unit costs) which are broken down into several cost categories. How many unit costs are paid out depends on how many months the fellow was employed (MSCA Doctoral Networks, Postdoctoral Fellowships and COFUND) or was seconded for the project (MSCA Staff Exchanges).
The amount of each fixed grant depends on the Marie Curie action selected and is specified in the Work Programme for the year in question. For funded projects, only the financial provisions from the Work Programme in which the project application was submitted apply for the entire duration of the project. An adjustment of the unit costs to subsequent Work Programmes is not permitted.
The European Commission has published a Financial Guide with examples and explanations on the implementation of MSCA projects. The explanations provided in this document complement the MSCA specific provisions in the Horizon Europe Unit Model Grant Agreement.
Monthly fixed amounts from the EU to subsidise the Fellows' salaries:
The basic salary (living allowance): The exact amount of the unit cost depends on the country in which the Fellow is carrying out his or her project. The country-specific correction factor is defined in the respective Work Programme.
The mobility allowance is intended to cover expenses related to private mobility, such as relocation costs or travel expenses.
Payment of the family allowance depends on the fellow's marital status and can be adjusted, even if this changes during the project.
A monthly long-term leave allowance can be paid to cover employer's costs in the case of longer absences of the Fellow due to maternity leave, parental leave or illness.
Researchers with limitations are also supported in project implementation through the special needs allowance.
Monthly fixed amounts from the EU to subsidise project implementation by the host institution:
The research, training and networking contributions are a monthly allowance towards the Fellows' research and research training costs as well as networking activities, e.g. conference or seminar fees or, in the case of networking projects, costs for organising workshops and conferences.
Management and indirect costs are also covered by a unit cost.
The institutional unit costs can be reallocated among the consortium in order to simplify the realisation of central actions such as summer schools or project management (MSCA Doctoral Networks, COFUND and Staff Exchanges).
Monthly fixed amounts with Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND
The monthly COFUND allowance subsidises all project-related costs in MSCA COFUND measures, i.e. the salary of the fellows as well as research, training and management costs. If a doctoral candidate or postdoctoral researcher is being funded, the amount of the fixed sum depends on whether they are being funded. Long-term sick leave allowance or special needs allowance will also be paid at COFUND in certain cases.
Dealing with fixed amounts
In principle, all grants will not be paid directly by the European Commission to the researchers, but to the host institutions which will administer them. Accordingly, the Commission concludes a grant agreement with the host institution or (in the case of network projects) with the project consortium on the basis of the Unit Model Grant Agreement.
Researchers will be employed by the host organisation through an employment contract. A sample employment contract for appointments in Germany for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions in Horizon 2020 (2013-2020), including an English reading version, can be found in the download area. A sample employment contract for MSCA in Horizon Europe is not yet available.
Certificates on the Financial Statements (CFS) are not required for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, as the funding is paid out entirely via unit costs. Notwithstanding this, the European Commission or the European Court of Auditors may carry out an audit.
The taxation of individual unit costs for researchers depends on the local tax offices. Further information on the taxation of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowships is also available on the pages of the German Researcher's Mobility Portal EURAXESS.
Model employment contracts
Researchers are employed by the host organisation on the basis of an employment contract that must comply with the MSCA requirements for good employment conditions. German host institutions are provided with model employment contracts for the employment of fellows in the MSCA funding lines MSCA-DN, MSCA-PF EF and MSCA-PF GF.
The model contracts are in German language and serve as non-binding assistance. A legal review must be carried out in any case by the employing institution when using the text - even of individual sections. The English reading version can be provided to the fellows for information purposes.
In addition, a template for the Partnership Agreement between the Host Institution and the Associated Partner in MSCA PF Global Fellowship projects is available.
The working group that prepares the model contracts is coordinated by KoWi and the German MSCA NCP. It includes representatives from the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg and the Federal Working Group of EU officers at German universities (BAK), the German Aerospace Centre, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the University of Duisburg-Essen.
Model consortium agreement for MSCA
The model consortium agreement for MSCA DN and SE projects was drawn up by BAK AG Recht on the basis of the DESCA consortium agreement for Horizon Europe. The contract text offers a solution for the integration of associated partners with their own budget and contains various annexes, e.g. a sample Career Development Plan and a sample Secondment Agreement.