Extracts from the press briefing by Lazaros S. Lazarou, Member of the European Court of Auditors, on ECA special report "Implementation of the Leader approach for rural development"

Type: Summary of press conference   Reference: I-067964   Duration: 10:02:00  Lieu:
End production: 16/11/2010   First transmission: 16/11/2010
In its special report No 5/2010 "Implementation of the Leader approach for rural development, published on 16/11/2010, the European Court of Auditors found that local action groups (LAGs) implemented the Leader approach in ways that limited the potential for added value, and gave grants to projects without due regard to efficiency. Leader was an approach for implementing the EU's rural development policy through LAGs (Local Action Groups). The report pointed out that the procedures were not always transparent, and did not sufficiently demonstrate that the LAGs took decisions on an objective basis, free from conflicts of interest. The European Commission had not yet demonstrated the effectiveness or efficiency of the expenditure, the added value achieved through following the Leader approach, the extent to which the known risks had materialised or the real costs of implementation, according to the report. Lazaros S. Lazarou, Member of the European Court of Auditors, gave a press briefing to present this report.

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10:00:00 Title 00:00:05
10:00:05 General view of the press briefing 00:00:05
10:00:10 SOUNDBITE (in ENGLISH) by Lazaros S. Lazarou, Member of the European Court of Auditors, on the weaknesses in the soundness of the financial management by the LAGs: LAGs have not taken account of efficiency, particularly in awarding grants for projects that were already under way, or even completed, before the grant decision was made. The cost of implementing Leader, as substantial due to the additional implementation layer up to a third of LAGs budget in addition to the managing authorities, and pay agencies cost processing, is spent on monitoring and controlling. Inflexible procedures even for small projects and delays limited efficiency, although to a large degree, this resulted to the Member States' requirements. 00:00:40
10:00:51 Cutaway of the speakers 00:00:04
10:00:56 SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) by Lazaros S. Lazarou: Member States selected LAGs with weak strategies. As a result, the EU budget is being implemented in the 2007-2013 programming period in a way that is less efficient, less effective, with less potential added value that could have been achieved. 00:00:18
10:01:14 Cutaway of the speakers 00:00:04
10:01:19 SOUNDBITE (in ENGLISH) by Lazaros S. Lazarou: While the audit identified a number of good practices that showed the potential added value of the Leader approach, it is unacceptable that, ten years after the court's previous audit of Leader, the same serious weaknesses in implementation persist. Due to the gravity of the audit findings, notably concerning conflicts of interest, inefficiency and the absence of convincing evidence on the effectiveness and added value achieved, the Commission and Member States should review the implementation of Leader programme, and act urgently on the recommendations of the Court's Special Report No 5/2010. 00:00:41
10:02:00 Cutaway of the press conference 00:00:05
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