The Commission takes the risks of conflicts of interest in the implementing the EU budget very seriously. Situations involving conflicts of interest (including perceived ones) can happen at any time. It is of paramount importance to either prevent them or manage them appropriately when they occur. That requirement is crucial for upholding the transparency, reputation and impartiality of the public sector and of those who take the decisions relating to the management of EU funds and the credibility of the rule of law principles as a fundamental value of the EU. Having in place detailed policies and rules on avoiding and managing conflicts and perceived conflicts of interest is an essential part of good governance and sound financial management.
What are the rules on avoidance of conflicts of interest in implementing the EU budget?
The EU Financial Regulation, which entered into force on 2 August 2018, has strengthened the measures to protect the EU financial interests. A key example is the strengthening of the rules on conflicts of interest (Article 61 FR 2018). These are now – in addition to direct and indirect management – explicitly extended to Member States’ authorities and any person implementing any of the EU funds under shared management.
The Commission issued a guidance that aims at raising awareness and promoting a uniform interpretation and application of the rules on avoidance of conflicts of interest. It also encompasses practical examples, suggestions and recommendations aiming at providing EU institutions and Member States’ authorities with guidance and tools to assist them in the avoidance of conflicts of interest.
The guidance is also a tool to further strengthen the measures to protect the EU budget against fraud and irregularities. This also emphases the complementarity with the Rule of Law Regulation, with effective monitoring of the implementation of Recovery and Resilience Facility and further compliance efforts in respect of the implementation of the EU budget under direct, indirect and shared management.