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Unit costs for personnel costs and internally invoiced goods and services in Digital Europe

To simplify the declaration of costs, unit costs can be used for staff costs and internally invoiced goods and services under Digital Europe

Programmes Digital Europe   HPC   AI, data & cloud   Cybersecurity   Advanced Digital Skills   Deployment: Best use of technologies   European Digital Innovation Hubs  

Published on | 9 months ago

Last updated on | 7 months ago

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Marie Timmermann

For all actions under the Digital Europe programme the use of eligible costs based on unit costs is authorised for staff costs and costs for internally invoiced goods and services.

Staff costs

For some beneficiaries, staff costs can be more easily declared on the basis of their own usual cost accounting practices (so-called ‘average personnel costs’) because they have already developed unit costs which they use in other situations when declaring costs. The payment of the unit costs will be based the amount of time worked on the action.

Internally invoiced goods and services

‘Internally invoiced goods and services”’ means goods or services which are provided within the beneficiary’s organisation directly for the action and which a beneficiary values on the basis of its usual cost accounting practices. They may include (amongst others):

  • self-produced consumables,
  • use of specific devices or facilities,
  • standardised testing.

The payment of the unit costs will be the number of units used, provided or produced for the action.

Checks and avoidance of double financing

For both staff costs and internally invoiced goods and services the beneficiary must maintain proof which can be verified ex post by the Commission during checks and audits. Eligible costs will be reimbursed taking into account the relevant funding rate of the programme. Absence of double funding will be ensured because the usual cost accounting practices of the beneficiary must comply with the requirement that eligible costs are counted only once in the calculation of the unit costs. This can be checked ex post by the Commission during checks and audits. The Commission will also check that the beneficiary concerned has not received another EU grant for the same action.

Method to determine the amount of the Union contribution in the form of unit costs

The method to determine the amount of unit costs is the usual cost accounting practices of the beneficiary, in accordance with article 181(4)(c)(ii) of the Financial Regulation.

To be considered as usual cost accounting practices, the method for calculating the unit costs should comply with the following:

  1. be based on the usual cost accounting practices of the beneficiary, based on objective criteria and applied consistently across the entity, irrespective of the source of funding;
  2. ensure that the costs declared are a reliable proxy of the actual costs:
    • For staff costs, the beneficiary must use the actual personnel costs recorded in its accounts;
    • For costs for internally invoiced goods and services, the beneficiary must use in principle the actual costs for the good or service recorded in its accounts, attributed either by direct measurement or on the basis of cost drivers, excluding any cost which are ineligible or already included in other budget categories;
  3. Allow for the identification of all elements included in amounts declared on the basis of the usual cost accounting practices of the beneficiary;
  4. Possibly foresee a regular update of the unit costs: the unit costs may be adjusted on the basis of budgeted or estimated elements, if they are relevant for calculating the personnel costs, reasonable and correspond to objective and verifiable information;
  5. Ensure that costs covered by unit costs do not include ineligible costs;
  6. Ensure reasonable compliance with the principle of no double funding (all costs are included in only one category of costs, and are only taken into account for one lump sum/unit cost/flat rate)
  7. Clear description of the method, answering at least the following questions:
    • How is the unit cost calculated and which (categories of) costs are covered?
    • Where applicable, how often is the unit cost reviewed and updated?
    • Where applicable, when are the calculations updated?
    • What is the reference period for the actual data used?
    • Which most recently calculated unit cost is intended to be used for reports?

More information can be found in the Decision authorising the use of unit costs based on usual cost accounting practices for actions under the Digital Europe programme.


Please note that the rules are different for Horizon Europe. For more information on cost declaration in Horizon Europe, please visit our Horizon Europe Legal & Financial Assistance page


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