Progress made with EU states’ partner spending plans, auditors say

5 Apr 17

Progress is being made with European Union member state’s partnership spending plans, but performance measures are too complex, auditors have concluded.

Despite some initial difficulties, the spending plans agreed between the European Commission and the EU member states have “successfully identified national investment needs, objectives and expected results”, according to today’s report from the European Court of Auditors.

These strategic plans, which direct investment from the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Social Fund, are also in line with the EU 2020 strategy for growth and jobs.

Investments supported by the three funds and implemented through operational programmes are expected to total some €350bn between 2014 and 2020, which represents about one third of the EU budget.

However the reports states “too many performance indicators have been developed and a number of important definitions are not harmonised”.

Auditors visited Spain, Ireland, Croatia, Poland, Romania and Denmark and concluded the agreements and operational programmes had been negotiated effectively but needed some standardisation of output and more clearly defined result definitions from the commission.

Ladislav Balko, member of the European Court of Auditors, said: “Despite this difficulty, the commission has been effective in adopting the partnership agreements and operational programmes and in concentrating EU funds on growth and jobs promoted by the Europe 2020 strategy.

“But achieving results will also require substantial contributions from national budgets as well as structural reforms.”

According to the report, there is a need for greater harmonisation on the use of common indicators. It also noted that thousands of the specific performance indicators created by member states could not be aggregated at the EU level and called for these to be discontinued.

Auditors urged member states to provide the commission with the financial information needed to monitor compliance effectively and to ensure that data relevant to establishing the effects of co-financed interventions was collected.

They called on the commission to ensure that its legislative proposals for the period after 2020 are presented in good time so EU countries can comply with spending rules.

The commission was also tasked with disseminating good practices by member states for evaluating the impact of EU interventions with the view of promoting benchmarking and where appropriate, applying the concept of a performance budget, which links resources to results.

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