Fabian Demicoli

Fighting fraud: Major progress in anti-fraud policy but Member States must do more to combat fraud


Member States
must step up their work to prevent, detect and report fraud affecting EU funds,
according to the Commission's annual report on the protection of financial
interests (PIF report).

The report sets out detailed recommendations on areas
that national authorities should particularly focus on in this respect. The
report finds that detected fraud in EU spending accounts for less than 0.2% of
all funds. Nevertheless, the Commission believes that greater efforts at
national level both on combatting and detecting fraud should be deployed. The
annual PIF report therefore recommends, amongst other things, that Member States
review their controls to ensure they are risk-based and well-targeted.

On the
positive side, the report notes that good progress is being made at national
level to implement new rules and policies which will strengthen the fight
against fraud in the years ahead. Moreover, at EU level, the past 5 years have
seen major advances in shaping a stronger anti-fraud landscape. These
initiatives can have a marked impact on fraud levels, once they are fully
implemented.

According
to the report, fraud affecting the EU budget, which was detected by national
authorities, decreased slightly in 2013 compared to 2012. On the expenditure
side, €248 million in EU funds were affected by fraud, equivalent to 0.19%
of the expenditure budget. This compares to €315 million the previous year
– a drop of about 21%. On the revenue side, suspected or confirmed fraud
amounted to €61 million, representing 0.29% of traditional own resources
collected for 2013. This compares to €77.6 million the previous year, also
marking a drop of 21%. While the overall financial impact of fraud affecting EU
funds decreased last year, the number of cases reported in EU spending
increased compared to the previous year. This may be the result of stronger
measures to detect fraud at an earlier stage, thereby reducing the overall
amount of funds affected. It also may signal better reporting of fraud by some
Member States.

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