The Commission has adopted a Communication describing in detail the two main ways in which it protected the EU budget from illegal or irregular expenditure by the end of 2014: the preventive actions such as the interruption of payments and the correction mechanisms like financial corrections and recoveries. In 2014, the Commission and the Member States decided to correct or recover unduly paid amounts worth of EUR 4.7 billion, which represents 3.3% of all payments made in that year.
In the areas of agriculture and cohesion policy - around 80% of the annual EU budget - the Commission manages the EU funds together with the Member States. It is therefore the Member States that are primarily responsible for identifying and recovering from beneficiaries amounts unduly paid.
The Commission supervises and tries to improve the effectiveness of Member States' control systems. For example, it shares good practices and guidance and organises training courses for Managing Authorities of the EU funds or seminars on error rates.
Under other policies (e.g. research and innovation, environment, education and culture) - approximately 14% of the annual EU budget), the Commission is directly responsible for the sound management of the taxpayers' money. For example, it has control frameworks in place to prevent, detect and deter irregularities at the different stages of the grant management process.
Positive results by action undertaken by Member States and the Commission
This Communication focuses primarily on the results of the Commission's supervisory role, but also provides information on Member States' controls. The figures demonstrate the positive results of the multiannual preventive and corrective activities undertaken by both the Commission and the Member States.
The amounts reported also confirm the Commission's and the Member States commitment to ensure that European taxpayers' money is used in accordance with EU law.
Several preventive and corrective measures
Like their names suggest, the preventive actions are intended to avoid that irregularities reoccur in the future, while corrective measures are designed to correct past irregularities.
During the 2009-2014 period, the financial corrections - the mechanisms in place to correct irregularities - show an increasing trend. The average amount confirmed by the Member States was EUR 3.2 billion or 2.4% of the average amount of payments made from the EU budget.