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3 years ago

Regions & Cities 2018: A deep dive into the EU regional funds

  • Text
  • European
  • Regions
  • Funds
  • Cohesion
  • Cities
  • Regional
  • Countries
  • Euobserver
  • Funding
  • Eastern
The European Union has allocated around €350bn for the 2014-2020 period to cohesion policy – accounting for a full third of the EU budget. Only the EU's agriculture policy receives more.

Sometimes in some

Sometimes in some countries they have money but they don't know what kind of projects to do. We have a peer-to-peer system, with people who work on the funds in all the countries, to help on administrative capacities, public procurement, or financial instruments. This exchange of good practices is very important - administrative capacity is more important than money. years. For instance, we changed operational programme with Italy to allow them to buy two vessels you have seen saving thousands of people in the Mediterranean. But for the next period there will be a mid-term assessment to see where to allocate the money for the last three years. How do you work with member states or regions to design projects when you give the money? We decide the allocations member state by member state. We have partnership agreements, so we decide together where to invest, where money is the most needed. Under the current programme, countries could change the priorities. I'm ready to change, because it's not possible to predict for the seven The lack of administrative capacities is a reason why money is not properly used. Cohesion funds are also affected by corruption. Do you have better tools to control that? We have zero tolerance for fraud or corruption. For us, it is a challenge to find the right balance between simplification, which is required by all the stakeholders and beneficiaries, and control of taxpayers' money. A motorway in Poland. Eastern EU countries still have 'a lot of needs' in infrastructures, says EU commissioner Cretu. Photo: Mikolaj Welon 14 — REGIONS & CITIES 2018

Commissioner Corina Cretu: 'We have zero tolerance for fraud or corruption' Photo: European Commission We can rely on audits of member states, but at the same time we have our own audit - via samples because we don't have the capacity to control every project - but we also have Olaf [the EU's anti-fraud office]. So I really think that EU money is the most controlled money. In the last year, according to the Court of Auditors, we had four percent of errors, and only 0.5 percent with financial consequences. When there is corruption we recuperate the money because there is a financial correction. When we identify fraud, member states are asked to reimburse the money. So it's not a loss of money. But, of course, there is this impression and we have to fight this. What do you think of the discussions about 'conditionalities' for EU funds, and the fact that some member states feel that they are being punished or disadvantaged by the new MFF proposal? It is the fourth time we use the Berlin method [a mix of criteria agreed by member states] since 2000. I think it's not fair to say that they are punished. If you take Poland and Hungary, this allocation is a recognition of the development and of what they have achieved. Poland's growth was less than 25 percent of the EU average, and now it is 75 percent. They [will receive] less money because of the economic development, it's not a punishment. At the same time there is a discussion on this link between rule of law and the EU budget, but it's not included in this package. It could be included in a regulation [that would have to be adopted by the European Parliament], the commission is working on how not to leave space for abuses. 15 — REGIONS & CITIES 2018

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