Commission strives to eliminate all form of error in cohesion policy spending
The European Commission has recently published its 'Analysis of errors in cohesion policy for the years 2006-2009', as well as actions it has taken to reduce their occurrence, and the way forward. While errors do exist, they are concentrated in a handful of programmes in a small number of Member States. The document stresses however, that 'errors' are not equal to 'fraud'. The term 'error' is used for any non-compliance with a condition for receiving EU funds, while 'fraud' entails deliberate or criminal deception for the purpose of making an unjust gain. The Commission's analysis highlights the most common examples of errors, such as contracts awarded without following the correct tender procedure; inadequate documentation to support expenditure (lack of audit trail); inaccurate calculation of overheads; application of incorrect co-financing rate; and, overestimated payment claims.
The Commission will continue its stringent audit work, along with the European Court of Auditors to further reduce the incidence of such errors. The proposed legislative package for cohesion policy form 2014-2020 will play a major part in this also through such features as the move to E-Cohesion (electronic data management) and conditions for a wider use of simplified costs.