Please be aware of important changes to the timeline for the calls for application. The new deadline for submission is Friday 5 January 2024 at 17:00 Central European Time. The documents on this page have been amended accordingly.
Timetable and deadlines:
The Regulation 2022/2371 on Serious Cross-Border Threats to Health introduced a legal mandate for the establishment of EU reference laboratories (EURLs) in public health. EURLs in the area of public health should provide support to national reference laboratories to promote good practice and alignment by Member States on a voluntary basis on diagnostics, testing methods, use of certain tests for the uniform surveillance, notification and reporting of diseases.
The European Commission has issued the following calls for applications related to EURLs in public health, in six separate disease or health areas:
- EURL for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in bacteria: Terms of the Call (Last update: 29 November 2023) - Online form to apply
- EURL for vector-borne viral pathogens: Terms of the Call (Last update: 29 November 2023) - Online form to apply
- EURL for emerging, rodent-borne and zoonotic viral pathogens: Terms of the Call (Last update: 29 November 2023) - Online form to apply
- EURL for high-risk, emerging and zoonotic bacterial pathogens: Terms of the Call (Last update: 29 November 2023) - Online form to apply
- EURL for Legionella: Terms of the Call (Last update: 29 November 2023) - Online form to apply
- EURL for Diphtheria and Pertussis: Terms of the Call (Last update: 29 November 2023) - Online form to apply
Interested public health microbiology laboratories in EU Member States and EEA countries are invited to apply no later than Friday 5 January 2024 at 17:00 Central European Time.
We strongly encourage potential applicants to read carefully the instructions for submitting an application, available in the Terms of the Call.
The template for letter of endorsement (Annex I in the call for applications) can be downloaded as a Word document.
The template for authorisation of coordinator by beneficiary, and Confirmation of joint and several liability for the execution of the tasks (Annex II in the call for applications) can be downloaded as a Word document.
The template for the Technical Description (Annex III in the call for applications) can be downloaded as a Word document.
For further information on the procedure, candidate laboratories may refer to the Guidance document.
Additional questions for which answers are provided that may be of interest to all possible applicants will also continuously be published as a Q&A below. Please note that once the information has been published on this website, it is considered to have been made available to all applicants. It is therefore the responsibility of the applicants to regularly check and review the Q&A to use the information there during the preparation of their application.
A webinar for interested candidate laboratories and national competent authorities was held on 20 October 2023
The Guide for Applicants and the Q&A will be updated in the coming days.
The evaluation procedure will be carried out by the European Commission, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and external independent experts.
Following the evaluation procedure, the selected laboratories are expected to be designated by a European Commission implementing act by spring of 2024.
Questions and answers
Q1: Can a National Reference Centre composed of 3 laboratories, which is already considered as only one entity (the National Reference Centre for X) by the national health authorities, count only as one participant inside a consortium or will these 3 laboratories be considered as 3 distinct participants of the consortium (maximum 5 in the final consortium)?
A: With reference to section 4.1.4 in the Call for Application (Modalities relevant to EURL applications by a consortium), a "consortium" is defined as "between two and five eligible entities in one or more EU Member States and/or EEA countries working together to perform the tasks of the EURL".
Laboratories that are separate legal entities will be considered as separate laboratories within the consortium.
Q2: Is it an absolute requirement that the EURL has to be able to cover all of the bacterial pathogens listed under the “e.g.” in the first statement? These pathogens seem to be stated as an example (e.g.) but it is not clear if they are a requirement. Would it be possible to be designated as the EURL if covering all except two of the pathogens listed under the “e.g.”?
A: The application needs to cover all of the diseases mentioned in the Call for Application. If your institute can not cover all of the diseases mentioned then we would recommend to seek a consortium to form a part of.
Q3: How should we approach the sums of money stated in the fictitious scenarios? Is there an order of magnitude to consider?
A: At this stage the budgets indicated in the scenarios are listed as inspiration for the applicant when drafting the proposal. The sums are presented for the purpose of this application procedure alone, and therefore do not constitute a commitment on the duration or amount of funding for the EURL designated under this procedure. At a later stage, designated EURLs will be invited to apply for funding when their designation through a legal act (implementing regulation) has been processed by the European Commission. A specific call for proposals will be launched for this purpose.
Q4 a: If you apply as a consortium: what is meant in the second paragraph by “applicants team”. (“Describe the applicant team and how the members of this team will work together to implement the proposed workplans.”)
Do you need to describe the actual team members and their expertise for each institute in the consortium? Or is the consortium team as such meant here? In conclusion, is this description at the institute level or at the consortium level?
A: As described in section 4.1.4 in the Call for Application (4.1.4 Modalities relevant to EURL applications by a consortium), a “consortium” is defined as “between two and five eligible entities in one or more EU Member States and/or EEA countries working together to perform the tasks of the EURL”. The applicant should present the group of experts required to cover the competencies needed to fulfil the EURL functions (this is referred to as the “Applicants team”). The application must include the relevant information to demonstrate how well the applicant team meets the selection criteria described under section 2.8 of the call for application.
Q4 b: In the same paragraph, what is meant by “List the required functions by expertise”?
A: “List the required functions by expertise” refers to the need to clearly define which entity is expected to conduct specific activities within the application team. This is linked to the requirement that each entity must be endorsed by a national competent authority to ensure that the entity “has or has contractual access to, suitably qualified staff with adequate training in their area of competence” and “Possesses, or has access to, the infrastructure, equipment and products necessary to carry out the tasks assigned to them” (Annex 1).
Q5: In case we need to describe the teams per institute: to what expertise level do you need to describe the teams? Is expert level sufficient and can ECDC assume that at the technician and lab support level everything will be satisfactory if you are a functional NRL?
A: Regarding the level of detail in the application in describing the teams. It is up to the applicant to, within the text limitation described in the Call for Application, describe the team composition and the competences required to fulfil the EURL functions. The goal of this description should be to, in a convincing way, show that the application fulfils the criterion on “Team composition, knowledge and experience”, see section 2.8 of the call for application.
Q6: Is it necessary to apply in the health area „EURL for high-risk, emerging and zoonotic bacterial pathogens” for all pathogens mentioned?
A: As described in section 4.1.4 in the Call for Applications (Modalities relevant to EURL applications by a consortium): “The consortium as a whole must cover the all the tasks of the EURL, and the work programme of the consortium must contain a demonstration of coherence and complementarity within the consortium members including division of tasks and responsibilities and the exchange of knowledge.” It will therefore not be possible to only apply for only some of the pathogens listed of the future EURL. Such application needs to be part of a consortium covering all the tasks described.
Q7: Can a submission be a consortium on antimicrobial resistance to include TB antimicrobial resistance and other pathogens?
A: With reference to section 2.2 in the Call for Applications (Description of the EURL and relevant disease/laboratory networks), the scope of the EURL for AMR does not include TB. The future EURL shall provide support to the members of the laboratory sub-networks of ECDC’s European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net) and the European Antimicrobial Resistance Genes Surveillance Network (EURGen-Net) on issues related to diagnostics, testing methods, use of certain tests for the uniform surveillance, notification and reporting of diseases. At present, the pathogens included in EARS-Net surveillance are Acinetobacter spp., Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pneumoniae. EURGen-Net focuses on surveillance of healthcare-associated multidrug-resistant bacteria of public health importance. The current species listed under this programme includes carbapenem- and/or colistin-resistant Enterobacterales (K. pneumoniae and E. coli), Acinetobacter baumannii (CRAb) and carbapenem-resistant P. aeruginosa (CRPa).
Q8: The area of Vector-borne viral pathogens includes several important pathogens (11 of them are explicitly listed in point 2.2.1). However, the table in point 2.4.1 does not indicate whether the required number of reference materials, samples or organised EQAs refers to each of the listed viruses (e.g. in task Nr1 60 samples x 11) or whether it is in sum for all or whether EURL can select some viruses at its discretion.
A: Section 2.4.1 in the Call for Application (Mandatory tasks for the EURL for public health in the field of Vector-borne viral pathogens) provides the minimum volume of support activities over the two-year scenario period. It is up to the applicant to ensure that there is capacity available to cover any of the listed viruses. That being said, it will be up to the applicant to propose how to best distribute these activities in the application. In this proposal the applicant can indicate for what viruses the focus should be over the two-year scenario. With regards to the EQA targets, these will be agreed upon by the EURL and ECDC in response to needs of the network laboratories or specific epidemiological situations. A detailed EQA plan must be agreed upon with ECDC before implementation of the EQA.
Q9: Considering the extension of the deadline for the submission of the applications, will applicants that have already submitted their application be allowed to edit and update their applications until the extended deadline, if they wish to do so?
A: Yes. To edit their submitted contribution, applicants should use the same link that they used to edit the draft application. Should they have any issues with this, please send an email explaining the issue to EURL-PHecdc [dot] europa [dot] eu (EURL-PH[at]ecdc[dot]europa[dot]eu) . Draft applications that have not yet been submitted in EUSurvey remain open for editing and submission by the applicants.
Q10a: is it expected that EURL applicants insert references to scientific articles, relevant EU policies and regulations, ECDC reports etc. in the application text?
A: References are not requested in the call for application. Please be aware, if you choose to include references at your own discretion, they must be included in the text for each section, and therefore bound by the same font size and page limit. Please note also that submission of supporting documents for the selection criteria may be requested at a later stage.
Q10b: if references are expected, what would be the preferred format for insertion of the references (footnotes, hyperlinks or use of citation and Reference manager software applications, such as endnote or reference manager other)?
A: There is no preferred format as references are not requested in the call for application. Please be aware, if you choose to include references at your own discretion, they must be included in the text for each section, and therefore bound by the same font size and page limit.
Q10c: is there any page or numerical limit for the references?
A: References are not requested in the call for application. If you choose to include references at your own discretion, they would be included in the page limits stipulated for that section.
- Regulation (EU) 2022/2371 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 November 2022 on serious cross-border threats to health and repealing Decision No 1082/2013/EU
- Health Policy Platform Live Webinar: Meeting on EU Reference Laboratories for public health – Stakeholder webinar from 29 August
- The European Commission and ECDC are holding an Information Session dedicated to the six calls for application listed above. It will take place on 20 October 2023 10:00 – 13:00 CEST (Luxembourg time). All interested candidate laboratories or national competent authorities are welcome to attend and can register online.