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Common rules against EU budget fraud - 19/07/2012

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If EU countries took a coordinated approach to fighting fraud, it would be easier to catch fraudsters and recover money stolen from programmes meant for the public.

The Commission has been working closely with EU countries to reduce fraud against the EU’s budget, but more needs to be done. In 2010 alone EU countries reported cases of fraud totalling €600m, about 1% of the EU’s budget.

A common approach on national rules for treating fraud would help – because individual EU countries manage about 80% of the EU's annual budget, and the Commission the rest.

Currently, definitions for offences such as embezzlement or abuse of power differ across the EU, leading to low conviction rates in some countries – they vary from 14% to 80% for EU budget fraud.

In response, the Commission is proposing common rules pdf - 122 KB [122 KB] български (bg) čeština (cs) dansk (da) Deutsch (de) eesti keel (et) ελληνικά (el) español (es) français (fr) italiano (it) latviešu valoda (lv) lietuvių kalba (lt) magyar (hu) Malti (mt) Nederlands (nl) polski (pl) português (pt) română (ro) slovenčina (sk) slovenščina (sl) suomi (fi) svenska (sv) so that authorities can investigate fraud more easily across the EU. Stronger rules would deter criminals, better protect taxpayers’ money and help the EU recover lost funds. They include:

  • common definitions for fraud and misuse of government purchasing procedures – these would also cover corruption and money laundering and make it easier for prosecutors to freeze criminal assets in other EU countries
  • setting a minimum 6-month prison sentence for anyone convicted of fraudulently receiving €100 000 or more from the EU budget – currently, minimum penalties for this range from a fine to 12 years in prison
  • allowing prosecutors a reasonable period in which to charge a person with fraud – some countries have time-limits that are often too short for cross-border investigations, which can be complex and take longer than normal.

Next steps

The new proposals will be discussed by the European Parliament and EU governments.

Next year the Commission plans to propose aligning EU rules on evidence in criminal cases. Another proposal would improve cooperation between national authorities and the European Anti-Fraud Office.

Report on fraud & misuse of EU funds – 2010 pdf - 2 MB [2 MB] български (bg) čeština (cs) dansk (da) Deutsch (de) eesti keel (et) ελληνικά (el) español (es) français (fr) italiano (it) latviešu valoda (lv) lietuvių kalba (lt) magyar (hu) Malti (mt) Nederlands (nl) polski (pl) português (pt) română (ro) slovenčina (sk) slovenščina (sl) suomi (fi) svenska (sv)

More on the EU’s anti-fraud policies

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