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Identify, inspect, neutralise Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) at sea
Horizon Europe - Cluster 3 - Destination 2: Effective management of EU external borders
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
Projects should increase capabilities to detect, classify, inspect, assess and neutralise Unexploded Ordnance at sea, thus improving safety and security.
A large amount of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO), estimated by experts in the tens of thousands of tons, lay in European seas and often close to European shores. Most of this material dates back to World War I and World War II. Estimates for the timing of material corrosion suggest that much of this material is likely to be an increasing safety risk in the next 10 years. And this would happen while coasts, shores and seas have more and more value for economic and civilian activities, ranging from seafood production to communications, transport, trade and sustainable energy production. UXO hence represents a substantial safety risk for economic operators at sea, and citizens, as well as for the environment.
UXO also represents a security risk, as some of this dangerous material is relatively easily retrievable and could be misused in illicit, including criminal and terrorist, acts. These security threats could be linked directly to maritime security and infrastructures (to deny or ransom a port, for example), or be moved towards other illicit acts.
Roles and responsibilities to map, identify, assess, inspect, retrieve and/or neutralise UXO vary among Member States, allocated to private operators, local and regional governments, national governments, and/or the military that carry out civilian tasks.
Current capabilities on mapping, identifying, assessing, inspecting, retrieving and/or neutralising UXO still largely use human operators, and increased use of automated and/or unmanned systems would be desirable for efficiency and safety reasons.
The proposed project should improve civilian capabilities on:
a) enabling existing knowledge (mapping and integrating data from historical maps and more recent data, including reports from sea operators); comparative analysis of legislation, roles and responsibilities in Member States;
b) detecting UXO on and below the marine sediment/seabed, in order to detect also buried objects;
c) identifying, classifying, assessing (identifying chemical and material aspects; sensing levels of corrosion);
d) inspecting and handling (grab and manipulate UXO under water, from intact shells to chunks to small parts; collect and recovery);
e) neutralising and disposing (containment of chemical spill overs and possible explosions).
Especially for proposing new solutions for the capabilities areas a) to c) described above, proposals should take into account and build on existing information produced and compiled by previous EU projects that carry out regular work on environmental risks of hazardous submerged objects such as UXO.
Research projects should consider results and recommendations from the European Commission’s 2022 “Study on underwater unexploded munitions: final report”.
Research projects should consider, build on (if appropriate) and not duplicate previous research or findings of previous operational work, including but not limited to research by other Framework Programmes projects and/or other EU projects, including those funded by the EU Maritime and Fisheries Fund, by the European Defence Fund and its precursors (the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) and the Preparatory Action on Defence research (PADR)), or by JPI Ocean. Relevant work by civilian national or regional projects, or by regional organisations (such as, for example, NATO/CMRE Research Centre).
For objectives in the capabilities areas d) and e) described above, proposals should focus on the solutions that address the civil needs and challenges of UXOs (not necessarily deriving from mine countermeasures), with regard to civil resources and engaging civil stakeholders.
Indeed, the involvement of civilian stakeholders, beyond civilian authorities, such as operators on sea, is strongly encouraged. The project should focus on civilian capability gaps and needs, rather than capabilities that are better addressed by defence instruments and tasks.
Proposed solutions should be compatible or interoperable with legacy and current systems, and propose or allow an interoperability between systems in use by different Member States.
Proposed solutions that would improve energy efficiency and environmental impact aspects of current UXO risk mitigation operations (e.g. low environmental footprint, low emissions, circular economy aspects and/or self-sustained equipment) would be desirable.
Examples of technologies and approaches that can be explored by the research projects include (non-prescriptive and non-exhaustive): sonars and other sensors; UxVs/AUVs; on-board analytical capabilities for material samples; hydroacoustic profiling; artificial intelligence for detection and classification; wing tows from ships; system of systems architecture.
Proposals should delineate the plans for further development to subsequent TRLs as well as uptake (industrialisation, commercialisation, acquisition and/or deployment) at national and EU level, should the research deliver on its goals.
Synergies within civil security can be an asset, for example with Fighting Crime and Terrorism (regarding combating organised crime and terrorism) and Disaster-Resilient Society (regarding environmental contamination).
Projects’ results are expected to contribute to some or all of the following outcomes:
- Increased capabilities to detect, classify, inspect, assess and neutralise UXO at sea;
- Improved safety and security for maritime economic operators and for EU citizens.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
- at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria
This topic requires the active involvement, as beneficiaries, of at least 2 Border or Coast Guard Authorities from at least 2 different EU Member States or Associated Countries. For these participants, applicants must fill in the table “Information about security practitioners” in the application form with all the requested information, following the template provided in the submission IT tool.
If projects use satellite-based earth observation, positioning, navigation and/or related timing data and services, beneficiaries must make use of Copernicus and/or Galileo/EGNOS (other data and services may additionally be used).
Eligible costs will take the form of a lump sum.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 50 pages.