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Eligible Personnel Costs in Horizon Europe: Types and calculation methods

When preparing your proposal for a Horizon Europe proposal, one of the most important steps in the process is the project budget. To well establish the budget, one must be aware of the detailed workflow, timeline, activities, and the volume of work to be engaged. But you also should know which categories of costs you can allocate to your Horizon Europe project funded by the European Commission.

In this special series of posts carefully prepared by NETO Innovation team, we will detail the categories of eligible costs in Horizon Europe as well as the calculation methods whenever needed. In this first post, we will focus on eligible personnel costs.

What are the eligible costs in Horizon Europe?

Your estimated budget is based on the estimated eligible costs and must be annexed to the Grant Agreement. The estimated eligible costs are of high importance to define the maximum possible grant amount of the action. All allocated costs must be identifiable and verifiable. To be eligible, all costs must meet the eligibility conditions of Article 6.1 of the Annotated Grant Agreement (see reference 1). We have 5 categories of eligible costs: (i) Personnel cost, (ii) Subcontracting cost, (iii) Purchase cost, (iv) Other costs, (v) Indirect costs.

Eligible costs in Horizon Europe

In this article, we will focus on eligible personnel costs. The other categories will be investigated in future posts.

Personnel costs:

This covers the following 6 sub-categories:

  1. Costs for employees

  2. Costs for natural persons working under a direct contract other than an employment contract

  3. Costs of personnel seconded by a third party against payment

  4. Costs for SME owners/beneficiaries that are natural persons without salary

  5. Costs for volunteers’ work

  6. Costs for other personnel categories

Costs for employees:

These costs are eligible in all Horizon Europe programmes except SMP ESS, CUST, and FISC.

Eligible employees are assigned to the action (the project) and are personnel working for the beneficiary under an employment contract. In general, eligible employees’ costs are equivalent to the overall cost to the employer:

  • Salaries.

  • Social security contributions.

  • Taxes and other costs linked to the remuneration.

In Horizon Europe, in the standard case, actual costs are reported in financial report. Thus, costs for employees must be calculated based on a daily rate. The daily rate is calculated as follow:

The number of working days is limited by EC to 215 days per year per employee. In case of parental leave, the number of concerned days can be deduced from the 215 days limit.

The actual cost is then calculated as follows:

Where RP is the Reporting Period.

Supplementary payments received by employees for work in the project during the reporting period are also considered eligible.

Organisations usually using “average costs” to evaluate their daily rate can employ the “unit cost” method to calculate their employees’ costs. In this case, the daily rate is calculated as follow:

Costs for natural persons working under a direct contract other than an employment contract and Costs of personnel seconded by a third party against payment:

These costs are eligible in all Horizon Europe programmes except SMP ESS, CUST, and FISC.

To be eligible, these parties must work under the same conditions as employees, their work must be related to the action (the project), and the results of the considered work must belong to the beneficiary.

Costs for SME owners/beneficiaries that are natural persons without salary

This type of cost is considered eligible in all Horizon Europe programmes except SMP ESS, EUAF, CUST, FISC, CCEI, PERI.

This cost applies to either:

  • Persons who are directly owners or co-owners of the beneficiary and who are not employees of the beneficiary. The latest must be an SME.

  • Beneficiaries who are natural persons.

These costs are declared based on a daily rate. The daily rate is calculated as follows:

18 days being the maximum day per month accepted by the EC (215 days maximum per year). The specific correction coefficient per country are the same as Country Correction Coefficients (CCC) for Doctoral Networks and Postdoctoral Fellowships living allowances in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and they are given in Table below.


In anyways, in case of update of these coefficients, the calculation is automated. While filling the financial report, the partner must only indicate the number of days worked on the action and the costs are then automatically calculated by the IT system.

Costs for volunteers’ work

These costs are specific to the following programmes: LIFE, ERASMUS, CREA, CERV, JUST, ESF, SOCPL, AMIF, ISF, BMVI, UCPM.

A volunteer is a person who freely work for an organisation. Volunteers work on the action may be allocated to personnel costs if the general eligibility conditions are met and if they are calculated as unit costs (average cost).

The maximum amount for volunteers’ musts be lower or equal to 50% of the total project cost.

The volunteers’ cost (unit cost) is calculated as follow:

A specific daily rate is specified for each country and is fixed in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. The table below shows the daily cost by country according to Decision C(2019)2646.


Costs for other personnel categories

This cost category concerns only 3 EU Programmes:

SMP ESS - Single Market Programme / European Statistical System:

ESS personnel cost is only eligible in SMP programmes. Costs are calculated as unit cost as follow:

Or, in case the cost is based on deliverable:

CUST and FISC programmes:

These costs concern Custom and Fiscalis personnel and they are calculated based on unit cost as follow:

For more information, check the pdf documents enclosed within the references.

To sum up

Many eligible costs can be sub-categorized under the “Costs of Employees” category. They are considered eligible if they meet the general eligibility conditions set in Article 6.1 of the Annotated Grant Agreement. They must be verifiable and identifiable, and they must be performed in the framework of the action. The figure below summarizes the main sub-categories of Personnel Costs.

Eligible personnel costs in Horizon Europe

Are you interested in project financial management topics? We are preparing a series of posts about eligible costs in Horizon Europe. Subscribe to NETO Innovation website to receive these posts directly in your inbox.

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  1. Annotated Model Grant Agreement – EU Funding Programmes 2021 – 2027 / Pre-Draft November 30th, 2021

  2. Reference Documents (

  3. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – Work Programme 2021-2022

  4. COMMISSION DECISION authorising the use of unit costs for declaring personnel costs for the work carried out by volunteers under an action or a work programme


  6. Single Market Programme (SMP ESS) – Unit cost validation procedure


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