Fabian Demicoli

Commission anti-fraud strategy

 The priorities that relate to fraud prevention and detection will be put in place by the end of 2013 at the latest. All other priorities (investigations, sanctions, recoveries and horizontal fraud prevention policies, transparency and access to information, procurement and grants) will be implemented by the end of 2014 at the latest.

 

The Anti-Fraud Strategy is comprehensive document: it recalls the basic principles to fight fraud and covers prevention and detection of fraud, investigations, sanctions recovery and other cross-cutting issues such as international standards, ethics and integrity, transparency, procurements and grants. In practical terms, the Commission intends to put in place specific sectoral anti-fraud strategies for all services managing or supervising EU funds. In addition, the Commission would put in place regional strategies, covering specific types of fraud. The first example in that respect is the Commission's Action Plan to fight against cigarette and alcohol smuggling at the EU Eastern border.

The latter lists several actions that could be undertaken to fight smuggling at the EU's Eastern border. They include the provision of technical assistance to the countries concerned to strengthen their capacities at land borders (for instance by setting up equipped and trained mobile units, providing additional tools such as scanners, automated recognition tools or night vision).

At the moment, there is no legal provision at EU level to ensure that operators or smugglers face similar penalties across the EU. This potentially results in "penalty shopping", i.e. smugglers deciding to use ports/entry points where national legislation imposes the lowest penalties. The reinforcement of operational cooperation is also foreseen by the Action Plan via, for instance, Joint Customs Operations, targeted to this geographical area. Other actions could also be taken such as the posting of liaison officers, the conclusion of further agreements with tobacco manufacturers and improved means to exchange information. At international level, the Action Plan envisages to continue negotiations of agreements with Eastern Partnership countries to tackle smuggling activities.

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