EU auditors slam lack of results focus in cohesion policy schemes

5 Sep 18

EU money is mostly funding social and economic projects on a ‘first-come first-served’ basis rather than merit, auditors have warned.

The European Court of Auditors reviewed schemes that had been funded through the EU’s cohesion policy, looking specifically at seven programmes in the Czech Republic, France, Italy and Finland.

A total of €350bn has been allocated to cohesion policy for the 2014-20 period across the whole EU ­– almost one third of the bloc’s budget.

Projects receiving finance under the cohesion fund range from the establishment of childcare centres for pre-school children, improvements to manufacturing processes and training for construction workers and unemployed people.

The auditors found the criteria in bids for funding did not require applicants to define results and “most project selection was done on a first-come first-served basis”.

“It is critical that this funding is allocated effectively, namely through the delivery of expected results,” the report said.

In an examination of the selection, the ECA found that 15 out of 20 requirements were based on ‘first-come first-served principles’ and applications were successful when they met the criteria and funding was available.

The European Commission has committed to making the cohesion policy projects more results-focused.

Ladislav Balko, the member of the court responsible for the report, said: “Although the set-up of cohesion policy programmes is now more results-oriented, with a stronger intervention logic and an extensive set of indicators, we conclude overall that project selection is not yet sufficiently results-oriented, and monitoring continues to be mostly output-oriented.”

The auditors have previously said there were “serious weaknesses” in the monitoring of programmes, which are still too output-focused.

Their latest report, published on 4 September, added that the commission was only collecting limited information about the results the projects achieved.

The cohesion policy aims to support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth and sustainable development in member states.

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