Mid-term review of Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions unit costs
On 27.11.2013, the Commission adopted Decision C(2013)8194 authorising the use of reimbursement on the basis of unit costs for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action (MSCA) under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. This Decision defines a unit cost model for all MSCA (except for Coordination and Support Actions) covering all cost categories. The methodology to derive at the various unit costs was developed on the basis of a statistically robust set of data. As a method of revision, the Commission Decision foresees a mid-term review of the adopted unit costs compared to real costs and researchers'... salary development in Europe and beyond. ICF carried out this mid-term review between May 2016 and January 2017. Based on the information gathered, the study proposes some updates to the unit costs for the period 2018 to 2020. In order to collect data on real costs, 162 interviews were conducted with 83 MSCA fellows and 79 MSCA coordinators whose applications were successful in the 2014 MSCA calls, covering all four actions and all cost categories. It is important to note that none of the projects had received their payment of the balance at the time of the study. In parallel, an analysis of trends in researchers' salaries was undertaken and was based on the More-2 study and international comparable data. The study team used the data collected to assess the current MSCA unit costs as regards their level and structure in order to determine the needs for updating. Against this background, the analysis was structured around the following research questions: - Are the MSCA allowances competitive compared to salaries offered to similar researchers in and outside of Europe, and compared to competing professions? - Are the MSCA allowances sufficient to motivate researchers to be mobile, including those with families? - Are the MSCA institutional unit costs sufficient to motivate institutions to participate in the programme and to ensure fellows have adequate (and competitive) working conditions? - Does the simplicity of the MSCA unit costs lead to situations whereby the institutional unit costs are higher than real costs incurred, to an extent that would make changes to the unit cost system necessary? This document outlines the main findings in relation to these questions and concludes with implications for the updating.