Preventing and countering irregularities and fraud in European Territorial Cooperation Programmes

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The second event of the cycle of workshops entitled “Preventing and countering irregularities and fraud in European Territorial Cooperation Programmes” and fostered by the Managing Authority of the IPA Adriatic CBC Programme lands in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, on Thursday, 23 June 2016.

These workshops aim at embarking on a joint analysis on the methodology for preventing irregularities and fraud in European Territorial Cooperation programmes in the 8 countries participating in the IPA Adriatic CBC Programme – Italy, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia – given the relevant impact of financial flows on the territories across EU and non-EU countries.

The cycle of events, which opened at the Italy’s Presidency of the Council of Ministers in Rome on 20 April and held its first rendezvous in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on 13 May, has recently received the acclaim of the European Commission through Vicente Rodriguez Saez, Deputy Head of Unit for European Territorial Cooperation, who appreciated the preventive efficacy of the initiative focussing on the needs of the countries participating in the Programme.

“In the scope of a complex action of managing and implementing the IPA Adriatic Cross-border Cooperation Programme, the most relevant cross-border cooperation programme in the Adriatic region – outlined Ms Paola Di Salvatore, Managing Authority of the IPA Adriatic CBC Programme with its headquarters to the Abruzzo Region –  we have considered that starting up an initiative of training and information to promote the protection of the European Union’s financial interests is of key importance not only to ensure, of course, the sound management of Community funds, but also to make the actions of recovery and prevention, which this Managing Authority has been conducting, transparent and immediately palpable.”

The workshop in Mostar revealed to be of particular relevance for Bosnia-Herzegovina, a country in the phase of pre-accession to the European Union, which results to be amongst the most virtuous in terms of financial reporting of the IPA Adriatic CBC Programme funds, in a moment when financial correctness in EU funds management and budgeting becomes an important element for assessing future membership.

The meeting – organized in close collaboration with the Department of European Policies of the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the Committee for the prevention of fraud against the EU (COLAF) – has been opened with the welcome speeches of the Prime Minister of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Government, Mr. Nevcenko Herceg, and the Mayor of Mostar, Mr. Ljubo Bešlić. Addresses by the Ambassador of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Italy, Ms Željana Zovko, the Managing Authority of the IPA Adriatic CBC Programme, Ms Paola Di Salvatore, Gen. D. Francesco Attardi, Commander of COLAF, and Lieutenant Col. Ugo Liberatore, Unit of Guardia di Finanza for the prevention of fraud against the EU, will follow.

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According to the EC Report to the European Parliament on protecting the European Union’s financial interests, in 2013, EU member states reported established or alleged fraud at the detriment of the EU budget amounting to 309.1 million Euros.

kkThe total number of fraudulent and non-fraudulent irregularities reported in 2013 (15,779) increased by 17% against the previous year, although the financial incidence lowered (392.6 million Euros in 2012). Of all reported irregularities, 1,609 correspond to cases of established or alleged fraud (with 30% increase compared to 2012). According to the Commission, the increased number of cases is mainly liaised to the fact that the European Union and the national services exercised stricter control on the methods of EU funds management.

  IPA ADRIATIC CBC IPA is the acronym of Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, which is the programme aimed at assisting candidate countries or potential candidates countries to EU accession. IPA ADRIATIC CBC (Cross-Border Cooperation) supports cross-border cooperation among candidate countries, potential candidate countries and the EU member states neighbouring the Adriatic sea. In 2008, the European Commission approved a cross-border programme for the period 2007-2013 among three EU member states (Greece, Italy, Slovenia), and four candidate / potential candidate countries – namely Croatia (which became a EU member in 2013), Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro. The programme was adopted and co-financed under the cross-border component of the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). Serbia, with the independence of Montenegro, participates in the programme under the phasing-out condition.The mandate of Managing Authority of the IPA Adriatic CBC Programme is conferred to the Abruzzo Region.

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