EUROPEAN ANTI-FRAUD OFFICE AND ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TO ORGANISE A TRAINING SEMINAR FOR ANTI-FRAUD COMMUNICATORS IN BUCHAREST

Press Release OLAF/08/2003, 3 April 2003

The European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) and the Prime Minister's Control Department of Romania will jointly organise a training seminar for anti-fraud communicators in the Romanian capital in Autumn 2003. This was one of the conclusions reached during the most recent meeting of the OLAF Anti-fraud Communicators Network (OAFCN) which took place in Brussels on 26-27 March 2003.

The planned seminar will bring together the Spokespersons/Heads of Communication/Information of OLAF's partner services in the candidate countries. The objective of this seminar is to invite anti-fraud communicators from the different services with which OLAF works, to discuss the issues concerned with communication in their home environments, to carry out an intensive exchange of experience, so as to learn from best practices and to increase awareness.

In 2002 a training event for anti-fraud communicators was held in Finland/Sweden while a training course for journalists took place in Salamanca, Spain. The planned seminar in Bucharest will hopefully be an important development in raising the concept of prevent fraud through the "free-flow" of information and increasing awareness of the dangers of this type of crime, particularly in the candidate

The OLAF Anti-fraud Communicators Network (OAFCN) is an ad-hoc group, established in 2001. It is made up of the OLAF Spokesman and the spokespersons, and persons responsible for public relations and information officers in the national investigation services, with which OLAF co-operates in the Member States

The main aims of the Network are:

  • Prevent fraud through the "free-flow" of information: "prevention is better than cure"
  • Create a permanent dialogue between OLAF's External Communication Unit and its counterparts in the national investigation services.
  • Inform the European citizen of what OLAF & its partners in the Member States are doing both jointly and individually in order to protect their financial interests. This includes making all concerned aware of the need for an anti-fraud program that is global, balanced and effective throughout the territory of the European Union.
  • Give information to the general public (in particular through the media) relating to the fight against fraud and irregularities to the detriment of the European Union's financial interests.

Normally, national law enforcement agencies are more effective and more comfortable with their national media than with foreign media. However, one of the OAFCN's purposes is to ensure that the door of each national investigation service with which OLAF co-operates,

During the last year the importance of extending membership of the network to the candidate countries was discussed. In this context, and in the light of imminent enlargement, the Network has been expanded and now comprises over 40 members. Members of the Network represent their services rather than their countries, and it groups together the most important law enforcement and investigative services with whom OLAF works, at the EU and candidate country level.

The meeting on 26-27 March 2003 was the first which communicators from the candidate countries attended. The meeting was addressed by Mrs. Michaela Schreyer, European Commissioner responsible for Budget and Anti-fraud, who highlighted the importance of communicating the anti-fraud message to the public. She thanked the members of the Network for their continuing co-operation and support and welcomed the members from candidate countries to the Network.

The agenda of the meeting was centered on two main themes:

  • the need to educate public opinion in the candidate countries with regard to what constitutes the types of criminal activities we are all trying to combat, and their potential risk for taxpayers.
  • The development of closer co-operation between OLAF and the national services and as between the national services themselves so as to use information and communication as a means of prevention of fraud.

The attention of the European citizen needs, especially in the Candidate Countries, to be drawn to the protection of the Community's financial interests. In particular, OLAF and its partners must provide taxpayers with an assurance that their money is being used to the best effect. All forms of fraud against the Community's financial interests, from evasion of the taxes and duties that make up the European Budget, to the misuse of financial assistance provided by the Community, entail a real and

The training seminar for anti-fraud communicators in the candidate countries will be followed by another for journalists from these countries.

Mr Alessandro Butticé
Spokesman of the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF)
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.5425
Fax : +32 (0)2 299.8101

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