Is the Commission subject to an obligation of confidentiality in respect of the proposals received?

Yes, it is. Before the evaluation process at the European Commission (EC), both evaluators and observers have to sign a contract with the EC that specifically includes a confidentiality clause as well as well as a no conflict of interest declaration. 

Which clauses are usually included in Non-Disclosure Agreements?

As any other agreement, a NDA must be adapted to the circumstances of each project. Hence, there is not a standard NDA. Nevertheless, there are some issues that in most cases should be considered by the parties involved, such as the following:

Should I sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement at the proposal stage?

The preparation and submission of a proposal usually requires meetings and exchange of information among the project’s partners. At this point, among other issues, applicants should define the work packages and describe the research idea, which may result in the disclosure of valuable information.

How can I safely disclose confidential information?

One of the requirements of inventions’ patentability is novelty. To be regarded as new, generally, an invention cannot be disclosed or made available to others before the date on which an application was filed. Moreover, there are some types of information that are not patentable, such as methods and many forms of know-how, which may only be protected if they are kept confidential.

Which are the different levels of confidentiality?

The Rules for Participation and the standard model Grant Agreement establish that the European Commission and participants undertake to keep confidentiality of any data, documents or other material concerning the execution of the project that has been communicated to them as confidential.

Are the ideas that I describe in my proposal protected?

When applicants send proposals to the European Commission they set out details of the work, which is intended to be carried out under the project. Many ideas are therefore put forward by participants when submitting their proposals to the European Commission. This information is not only disclosed to the European Commission, but also to the independent experts, who assist in the evaluation of proposals.

Are there any provisions related to confidentiality in FP7 projects?

Subject to the conditions established in the Grant Agreement, appointment letter or contract, the Commission and the participants shall keep confidential any data, knowledge and documents communicated to them as confidential.