TI welcomes new transparency on EU fund beneficiaries but calls for more standardised information05 October 2008
by eub2 -- last modified 05 October 2008
Transparency International (TI) welcomes the European Union's (EU) new system for disclosing the beneficiaries of its funds. The European Commission recently launched several web portals through which information on the recipients of certain EU funds can be accessed. TI calls on EU Member States and the Commission to further enhance the information provided for and published through the disclosure system.
The beneficiaries of EU funds directly managed by the European Commission and some of the funds under "shared management", as for example EU rural development fund, regional and cohesion funds, can now be accessed by the public through the websites. The disclosure of EU fund recipients has been called for by TI for several years and is a main pillar of the European Transparency Initiative (ETI), which seeks to make EU institutions increasingly open and accessible to the public.
"We are pleased that EU citizens can now start seeing where their taxes are being spent and who - at least parts of - the beneficiaries of the EU funds are," said Miklos Marschall, TI's Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. "However, it is disappointing that the information provided on EU regional and cohesion funds is incomplete. Several countries supply limited or no access to recipients. In addition, the comparison of data is often difficult due to weak publication rules set out in the Commission Regulation (1828/2006).
TI had formerly criticised the opacity of these funds as a corruption risk and a barrier to accountability, arguing that the reputational and financial risks posed by an opaque disbursement and reporting system outweighed the administrative costs incurred by the systematic disclosure of EU fund recipients. The disclosure of EU funds enables public participation in a meaningful debate about how tax money is spent, which is essential for functioning democracies.
"The new initiative is promising, but a standardised format for the Member States is needed for the beneficiaries of the funds under shared management, to ensure the completeness and comparability of data," said Jana Mittermaier, Head of TI's Brussels office. "The overall quality of the disclosure system could be further enhanced if those Directorate-Generals of the European Commission in charge of EU funds and Member States share rules and best practices."
In addition, TI strongly encourages the European Commission to continue its work to reform the broader management of the budget, in particular the EU funds under shared management. Specifically, it should address the imbalance of responsibilities between the Commission and Member States.
Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.
Transparency International (TI)