EU members urged to step up fight against fraud

17 Jul 14
European Union member states must play a more effective part in preventing, detecting, and reporting fraud, the European Commission’s annual report has urged.

Between 2009 and 2013, the commission undertook legal and administrative measures to improve the protection of the EU’s financial interest, however ‘more must be done to combat fraud’, it said.

Examining data available for the past five years, the commission revealed that fraud affecting the EU budget, which was detected by national authorities, fell slightly in 2013 compared to 2012.

In 2013, 1,609 irregularities were reported as fraudulent – including suspected and established scams – involving €309m in EU funds.

The report stated: ‘There are significant differences in the number of fraudulent irregularities reported by each member state, possibly due to different approaches to detecting fraud, and in some cases, to non-homogeneous interpretation when applying the legal framework.’

On the expenditure side, the report found that €248m in EU funds were affected by fraud, equivalent to 0.19% of the spending budget.

On the revenue side, suspected or confirmed fraud amounted to €61m, representing 0.29% of traditional own resources collected for 2013.

The report added: ‘Reported irregularities have been decreasing on the revenue side. On the expenditure side, their number dropped sharply between 2009 and 2011, but is increasing again.’

Algirdas Šemeta, commissioner for taxation, customs, statistics, audit and anti-fraud, said: ‘In the last five years, the commission has taken the fight against fraud to a new level. Our commitment to protect citizens’ money from fraudsters is clear from the tough and ambitious new rules, initiatives and frameworks we have put forward.

‘Now it is time for member states to play their part more effectively. They need to step up their game in preventing, detecting and prosecuting those who try to de-fraud the EU budget.’

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