Analysis of errors in cohesion policy for the years 2006-2009. Actions taken by the Commission and the way forward
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Since 2007, in its annual report, the European Court of Auditors (the Court) has reported an estimated error rate for cohesion policy as a whole for each budget year (2006-2009) based on an independent, annual random sample of transactions. The Court's estimated level of error for cohesion policy has been considerably higher compared to other policy groups of the EU budget in the years analysed. While year-on-year variations in the number of errors detected may be influenced, inter alia, by the stage in the multiannual implementation cycle of cofinanced programmes, the estimated error rate decreased significantly in 2009, when the majority of the Court's audited transactions consisted of projects from the current (2007-2013) programming period for the first time. The Commission found similar results in an enquiry carried out in 2009 to estimate the risk in the first payments for the 2007-2013 programming period, based on a representative sample of expenditure submitted up to May 2009. Nevertheless, it should be noted that not all programme authorities had started to make substantial payments in 2009 for the 2007-2013 programming period, thereby limiting the population of payments from which the Court and the Commission could draw their sample for current programmes for that year. The error rate remains high and will certainly fluctuate in the future, in particular as the implementation of the current programming period reaches maturity and the volume of payments increases in subsequent years as demonstrated in the annual activity reports of the Commission services concerned.