European Research CouncilNEW in Horizon Europe: the PI (Principal Investigator) Time Commitment in ERC grants

Every prospective or current Principal Investigator in the framework of a prestigious ERC action knows that they are, or will be, required to comply with minimum percentages of their working time in the implementation of the ERC action, and working in an EU Member Stae or Associated Country.

These percentages vary according to the type of action (Starting, Consolidator, Advanced, Synergy), decreasing inversely to the seniority of the PI, from 50% for Starting grants to 30% for Advanced, assuming that the PI of an ” advanced” holds positions, and has a workload even outside ERC, which does not reasonably allow him to devote more than 30% of his time to the European grant.

In H2020, the calculation of this percentage was rather immediate and depended on the number of Annual Productive Hours (APH) opted by the Hosting Institution for the annual calculation of the hourly personnel cost.

In Horizon Europe we have a significant difference, i.e. the HI (like any other beneficiary of direct European funds, not just Horizon) can no longer adopt one of the three options 1) 1.720, 2) Individual, or Standard.

The simplification process wanted by the European Commission (and strongly promoted by the European Court of Auditors, ed), which goes under the name of Corporate Approach, has defined a fixed number of annual productive days.  Therefore, no longer “hours” but “days”, and no longer a choice, but a fixed number: 215 days in a year.  215 days in a year are the translation of 1720 hours, considering an 8-hour day.

How does this translate in terms of the Time Commitment of the PI of an ERC grant?

The beneficiaries must respect the following conditions for the principal investigator and their team:

…the obligation of the principal investigator to meet the time commitments for implementing the action and for working in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe associated country, as set out in Annex 1

215 days now represent a ceiling of productive days, therefore – if the PI actually worked more than 215 days, the excess work would not be taken into consideration for the calculation of the percentages.
The sum of working days must also include days worked as a freelancer, or under contracts with other organizations (other than HI). If, on the other hand, the PI worked fewer days in a year (e.g. in cases of part-time employment, maternity leave, sick leave…), then the sum of all the working days of the PI should be done, also in this case, considering all the remunerated activity, and proportionally reduce the value that represents 50% of the time commitment.
Two specific aspects must always be taken into consideration:
i) the obligation deriving from the time commitment refers to the duration of the project, not to the percentage of work in a calendar year or in a reporting period;
ii) the obligation exists regardless of whether HI declares the PI’s accounts in its financial reports.


It is therefore strongly recommended to take into account the above-described provisions when planning your next ERC grant when it comes to the PI commitment.

If you need assistance with the administrative and financial management of your grant, or in the preparation of your proposal, send us an email at info(at), or use this online form.
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