Extracts from the joint press conference by Viviane Reding and Algirdas Šemeta on the proposal of the EC on changes to criminal law to improve protection of EU financial interests

Type: Summary of press conference   Reference: I-073988   Duration: 10:03:25  Lieu:
End production: 11/07/2012   First transmission: 11/07/2012
On 11 July 2012, Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, and Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the EC in charge of Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud, held a joint press conference on the proposal of the EC on changes to criminal law to improve protection of EU financial interests. Losses to the EU budget due to illegal activities are a cause of concern. More than 90% of the EU budget is managed nationally. In 2010, there were a total of 600 suspected fraud cases involving EU expenditure and revenue. Member States reported suspected cases of fraud to a level of €600 million. These were cases where applicants for EU funds provide false information to receive funding in for example the field of agriculture of regional development or where national officials accept money in return for awarding a public contract, in breach of procurement rules.

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TIME DESCRIPTION DURATION
10:00:00 Title 00:00:05
10:00:05 General view of the press conference 00:00:06
10:00:11 Soundbite by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship (in ENGLISH): the common definitions of offences against the EU budget as fraud or the misuse of public procurement procedures. It also covers corruption and money laundering in relation to fraud. 00:00:24
10:00:35 Cutaway of photographers 00:00:02
10:00:38 Soundbite by Viviane Reding (in ENGLISH): The Member States will be obliged to foresee for the first time ever minimum penalties of six months imprisonment (up to a maximum of five years) for the most serious offences against the Union's financial interests. That is for damage beyond 100.000 EUR – whereas today some Member States do not provide any minimum sentences for such fraud. These minimum sanctions will be a strong deterrent for fraudsters who want to make a profit at the expense of taxpayers' money. 00:00:36
10:01:15 Cutaway of a journalist 00:00:03
10:01:18 Soundbite by Viviane Reding (in ENGLISH): The Commission had already decided last year to have a zero tolerance on fraud committed against the EU budget. Criminals will think twice before engaging in illegal business at the expense of taxpayers' money. So zero tolerance is also the big title you could give to the decision we have put on the table today. 00:00:29
10:01:48 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:03
10:01:51 Soundbite by Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the EC in charge of Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud (in ENGLISH): Greater coordination of national policies is not an option – it is a requirement for our common well-being. This is as true for the protection of EU funds as it is for re-building national economies. We cannot share a common pot to invest in infrastructure, create jobs, support our farmers and promote research, and yet take 27 different approaches to protecting the money. 00:00:33
10:02:25 Cutaway of a journalist 00:00:04
10:02:29 Soundbite by Algirdas Šemeta (in ENGLISH): The proposal that we are presenting today therefore seeks to close national loopholes. It seeks to create a more harmonised and more effective approach to deterring and punishing fraud. And it seeks to send a clear message that fraud will not be tolerated, regardless of where it takes place in the EU. 00:00:23
10:02:53 Cutaway of a journalist 00:00:03
10:02:56 Soundbite by Algirdas Šemeta (in ENGLISH): At the moment, national statutes of limitation are adapted to the needs of fighting national fraud cases. However, they are often insufficient for cross-border investigations, given the extra time and complexity these involve. So our proposal will greatly facilitate investigators and prosecutors, by providing them with adequate time to do their work. 00:00:28
10:03:25 Departure of the Speakers 00:00:07
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