Principles of Simplified Cost options & Financial Instruments

Principles of Simplified Cost options & Financial Instruments

9-11 February 2022, PRAGUE, Czech Republic

- Discounted Price (till 1 February 2022): EUR 1,349

- Normal Price (from 2 February 2022): EUR 1,499


More needs to be done, with less.

More results need to be achieved with less errors, less controls, less complication. Simpler, more straightforward regulations and procedures have been introduced over the past years to stop the buck and truly focus on what matters most. Simplified Cost Options are considered key in simplifying management and control, but also streamlining implementation with OP objectives. The Omnibus Regulation has contributed further to this. SCOs are effective solutions to excessive paperwork, delays in decision-making, complex monitoring and verification of processes.

Undeniably, they also come with strings attached. The introduction of SCOs creates a culture shock and redefines the roles of all stakeholders in the field. Questions still linger on their verification and audit.

More results need to be achieved also with less funds in 2021-27. Cohesion Policy money to Member States will shrink, but we still need to perform, even better than this period. Compared to classical grants, Financial Instruments may contribute to larger value-for-money, with their potential of attracting a larger pool of complementary financing and revolving funds. They do suffer from an obvious shortcoming – they are not as easy as easily understandable as grants.

This workshop will take you step by step through the options available to simplify costs in this programming period and the next. It will explain the mechanics and controls behind financial instruments, to understand the concept better and appreciate their potential. We use practical examples from different Members States, discussing advantages and disadvantages in different contexts and scenarios.

Course Highlight

i. Overview of the principles and foundations of SCOs;

ii. Explaining the calculation methods for all SCO options available, considering the European Commission’s Guidance Notes on SCOs, the reports on SCOs published by the various EU institutions (including DG Regio, DG Empl, the European Court of Auditors) and the updates from the Omnibus Regulation;

iii. Analysing in detail how each Simplified Cost Option contributes to improve implementation under different conditions and under all ESI Funds through practical examples from different Member States;

iv. Assessing how the introduction of SCOs affects the work of Managing Authorities and Beneficiaries, at all stages of the project lifecycle;

v. Understanding how SCOs may simplify the certification and reimbursement process;

vi. Observing good-practice examples in the application of SCO across different Member States and different Funds, not only ESIF;

vii. Analysing how SCOs help in reducing the classical errors and, therefore, lowering the error rate;

viii. Exploring how financial instruments work within the context of ERDF, ESF, Agri & fisheries;

ix. Understanding how financial instruments deliver outputs more efficiently

x. Correcting errors in the design and implementation of financial instruments


Venue & Accomodation


Prague, Czech Republic

Target Audience

Managing Authorities, First Level of Control Bodies, Intermediate Bodies, Certifying Authorities, Audit Authorities, Central Coordination Authorities, Central or Regional Ministries, Finance Officers, Auditors, Methodology Departments, Officers involved in implementing SCO.


Delivering knowledge, experience and good feelings!

Trevor Fenech

Head of Institution

Ray Bartolo

Director - Lead Speaker


Our Plan for the three days


Timeline Plan

Wednesday 9th February 2022

Registration and distribution of training material


Introduction – Setting the objectives and expected outcomes


Improving the Process – from Real Costs to SCOs The seminar kicks off with a general workshop in which participants conduct their own management verifications of each step of the process (calls for proposals, grant agreement, implementation) before payment to the Beneficiaries, using various visual aids and tools.  Simplified Costs Options are introduced along the way, to show how each step may be simplified for better results and reduced administrative burden for beneficiaries.


Coffee Break


SCO#1 – Standard Scales of Unit Costs: Analysing features and applicability (including 2021-27 changes) An in-depth analysis of standard scales of unit costs, through practical examples, workshops and from different perspectives – implementation, reimbursement to the Beneficiary, verification, certification to the EC and reimbursement from the EC.




SCO#2 – Flat Rate Financing: Analysing features and applicability (incl. 2021-27) This session explores flat-rate financing and all its variants through practical examples, workshops and from multiple perspectives from all ESI Funds – implementation, reimbursement to the Beneficiary, verification and certification to the EC.


Coffee Break


SCO – Principles, Regulations and Calculation Methodologies (inc. State Aid implications) The guiding principles, the essential regulations and main calculation methodologies are discussed during this session, with direct reference to experience in Malta and other Member States.  Here we also discuss the implications of State Aid on the application of SCO.


Concluding remarks and wrap-up of Day 1


Timeline Plan

Thursday 10th February 2022

Welcome coffee


What errors and irregularities are reduced through Simplified Cost Options? SCOs are considered an effective tool to drive down error rates, according to audit reports of EU and national institutions.  What are these errors and how will SCOs contribute to reducing them?


SCO#3 – Lump Sums and Financing not linked to Costs: Analysing features and applicability (incl. 2021-27) This session explains lump sums and their application, together with an overview from all perspectives (incl. Article 14, ESF).  This session includes practical examples and workshops.


The Auditing perspective of SCOs Understanding the perspective of the auditor is essential in placing trust in the SCO systems.  Using the cases and exercises presented above, we explore the typical approach adopted by an auditor.




Case Studies: The application of SCOs in several Member States Several good-practice cases from across the EU and from different Funds are presented for observation and discussion.


Coffee Break


SCOs in the Programmes 2021-27: Setting them immediately and getting them approved The day concludes with an insight into a enahnced feature of the 2021-27 programming period – the setting of SCO in the programmes.  We look into the advantages of this.


Concluding remarks and wrap-up of Day 2


Timeline Plan

Friday 11th February 2022

Welcome coffee


Financial Instruments #1 – Implementing Financial Instruments In this session we explore the application of financial instruments in the ESI Funds, as an alternative to the classical grant-based approaches to project financial support.  Several case studies are presented throughout.


Financial Instruments #2 – Applying financial corrections to Financial Instruments errors Financial instruments are a relatively new aspect of verifications. In this session we explore the application of financial corrections to financial instruments errors.


Coffee Break


Financial Instruments in 2021-27 Experience on financial instruments has taught us more lessons. Here we take a look at the improvements proposed for the next programming period.


Concluding remarks and distribution of certificates


2022 Training Programme