Strasbourg, 17-4-2013 — /europawire.eu/ — Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner responsible for Taxation, Customs, Statistics, Audit and Anti-Fraud, said: “The decision by the European Parliament to grant discharge to the Commission is recognition of our consistent effort over the years to improve the management and control of EU funds. I agree with the Council and Parliament when they call for further simplification of the rules and processes in order to reduce the risk of errors. I agree with them when they call on Member States to take up their full responsibilities, given that they are first in line in managing and controlling about 80% of the whole budget.
For that reason, the Commission made bold proposals for the future Multiannual Financial Framework to reduce the risk of errors while increasing the accountability of all those involved in managing the EU budget, including national authorities. The performance of the programmes and their capacity to deliver added-value is also a central feature of these proposals.
Moreover, in order to protect the EU budget and financial interests, the Commission has toughened up the preventive and corrective measures. Where systems are found ineffective, the payments are interrupted and when errors are found, they are systematically corrected, without exception.”
A common ambition to ensure that EU taxpayers’ money is properly spent
Today’s decision to grant discharge to the Commission for the management of EU funded programmes comes at a critical moment when discussions between the European Parliament (EP) and the Council on future EU programmes are progressing. This positive decision is the result of very constructive and cooperative discussions which allowed all institutions involved – the Parliament, the Council and the Commission- to underline the recent progress made, as well as to look at where further improvements are required.
Stronger measures for future EU financial management
The Commission has already taken many steps in its proposals for the next generation of programmes (2014-2020) tabled in early autumn 2011, and on 1 January 2013 a new financial regulation entered into force with simpler rules on EU funds. The proposals for the 2014-2020 programmes include:
- Simpler rules, which are easier to apply and easier to check for compliance, thereby reducing the risk of errors;
- More transparent reporting and enhanced accountability requirements for Member States, who will have to submit every year a statement of assurance on their accounts and systems performance, verified by an independent auditor;
- A new system for monitoring progress in achieving set targets i.e. by setting objectives and key performance indicators in each of the proposals made for the next financial period.
- Stricter preventive and corrective measures: the Commission will be able to interrupt payments for up to 9 months and would be entitled to cancel definitely some or all of the EU funding for a programme if Member States fail to address in a timely manner serious weaknesses in their systems;
The budget discharge is the final approval of the EU budget implementation for a given year. It is granted by the European Parliament on a recommendation from the Member States in Council. The Parliament uses the Court of Auditors’ report (statement of assurance) as the primary basis for this decision. Discharge equates to approval of how the Commission implemented the budget in that financial year and the closure of the accounts.
Under the Treaty (Article 317 TFEU), the Commission implements the budget on its own responsibility. However, under shared management (including e.g. agriculture, rural development, regional and social policies and fishery programmes representing about 80% of the Union’s budget), the first level controls and checks belong to the national authorities. They design and implement their own systems which are subject to Commission’s and the Court of Auditors’ audit.
Emer Traynor (+32 2 292 15 48)
Natasja Bohez Rubiano (+32 2 296 64 70)