SMEs are among a range of organisations that have been invited to take part in a public consultation on the financial rules that govern the allocation of grants from EU-funded programmes.
The European Commission would like to hear from beneficiaries and managers of public funds so that it can improve access to grants and cut down on red tape. Results from the consultation will feed into a revision of the financial regulations and implementing rules, which the Commission will present in mid-2010.
The consultation will ensure that SMEs that are experienced in dealing with the grants system can play a useful role in shaping the management of EU funds well into the next decade. The revised rules must be agreed by the time the current financial framework closes in 2013 and before a new generation of EU-funded programmes comes on stream in 2014.
The Commission’s consultation paper covers the need to improve the process of public calls for proposals that are used to award grants. Experience has already shown that these procedures are too long and cumbersome.
The consultation also looks into the possibility of making co-financing requirements more flexible and examines the pros and cons of introducing performance-based grants. In addition, the consultation asks whether the non-profit rule should be relaxed – this currently does not allow EU grants to generate any top-up revenue for beneficiaries.
As part of its revision process, the Commission is aiming to improve the way it handles financial files. Current rules are designed to minimise the risk of error and fraud, but they also generate too much red tape. A better system must offer quality project management while continuing to protect tax payers.
The consultation runs until 18 December 2009.