The new anti-fraud Programme Hercule III entered into force on 21 March 2014. The Regulation for the Hercule III Programme was adopted on 26 February 2014 by the European Parliament and by the Council and it will make available an amount of EUR 104.9 million to support Member States in fighting fraud, corruption and other illegal activities. The Programme helps finance concrete projects such as the purchase by national authorities of x-rays scanners and other technical equipment to stamp out smuggling and other criminal activities against the EU’s financial interests.
The fight against tobacco smuggling continues to be an important area of focus under this Programme. Tobacco smuggling is estimated to produce losses of at least EUR 10 billion to national and EU budgets every year. Through the financing of x-rays scanners and other technical equipment in harbours and airports, for example, Hercule III funding can boost Member States' capacity to fight this criminal activity. More than EUR 70 million will be earmarked for these activities for the 2014-2020 period.
Hercule III will also finance training activities. It will help facilitate the exchange of best practices through seminars and conferences, dedicated, for instance, to preventing corruption in procurement procedures. Training will also be provided for law enforcement staff to strengthen and continuously update their digital forensic skills.
A novelty under the new Programme is that Member States can apply for more funding: potential beneficiaries are now allowed to submit an application for funding even in cases where there can be only little national co-funding. This means that for actions aimed to strengthen the technical and operational capacity of customs and law enforcement agencies, Member States can apply for funding of up to 80% of the overall costs. This is particularly important in the current difficult economic conditions, where many national budgets are severely constrained.
Regulation 250/2014 requires the Commission to adopt an annual work programme in order to implement the Hercule III Programme. The first annual work programme [227 KB] was adopted by the Commission on 26 May 2014. In 2014, EUR 13.7 million will be made available to support Member States in fighting fraud, corruption and other illegal activities. Thanks to the Work Programme adopted today, many useful antifraud projects can now start to be put into practice.
The Work Programme 2014 earmarks a budget of EUR 10.3 million for Technical Assistance actions and will be used to help national authorities to buy investigation tools, x-rays scanners and computers for Automated Number Plate Recognition Systems (ANPRS). The Commission will also pay for access to specialised databases for anonymous use by Member States’ customs and tax authorities. The Work Programme makes a further EUR 3.4 million available for training activities, seminars and conferences. Training will be supported, for example, for operational staff in Member States’ customs or police forces, to improve their skills in digital forensics and to allow them to share best practice in this field. Seminars, studies and conferences will facilitate the exchange of information between legal experts and academics related to legal practices in fighting fraud and corruption.
The actions supported under the Work Programme 2014 will take the form of grants and contracts. The Commission (OLAF) will shortly announce launch Calls for Proposals for the following types of eligible actions:
Examples of eligible actions are given in the Work Programme 2014. The latter also lists the eligible bodies as well as the criteria that will be applied to examine applications that are submitted within the framework of the Calls for Proposals.
Examples of actions funded under the previous Hercule II Programme can be found in the documents below:
The Pericles programme provides funding for staff exchanges, technical assistance and training to combat euro counterfeiting