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New anti-fraud strategy aims to name and shame

EUROPOLITICS / European Commission


New anti-fraud strategy aims to name and shame

By Gaspard Sebag | Friday 24 June 2011

The European Commission adopted, on 24 June, a new anti-fraud strategy that will enable the naming and shaming of fraudsters of EU funds. The overall aim is to facilitate prevention and detection and to improve the conditions for investigations of fraud and also achieve adequate reparation and deterrence with proportionate and dissuasive sanctions. The measures proposed – updating the 2000 strategy, which has been rendered somewhat obsolete due to the enlargement, amongst other factors – are expected to enter into force between now and the end of 2014.

New IT tools, such as a technical platform for secure exchange of data between customs and other relevant national authorities (the Mutual Assistance Broker), will be put to use to improve in a systematic way the Commission’s audit and control capacities. The EU executive also commits to intensify communication over penalties sanctioning fraudsters or beneficiaries of misused EU funds, ie naming and shaming that has been requested by Parliament.

The role of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) will be reinforced by enhancing the expertise, assistance and guidance it already provides to Commission services. Specific sectoral strategies will be set up, covering expenditure, such as Structural Funds or the European Fisheries Fund.

On the same day, the Commission unveiled a regional action plan to fight against smuggling of cigarettes and alcohol – the cause of a €10 billion shortfall in customs and tax revenues for the EU and member states – along the Eastern borders. It proposes targeted actions ranging from the strengthening of the capacities on both sides of the border, the setting up of trained mobile units and new equipment (automated recognition tools, scanners, night vision equipment, etc) to the need to review the way customs penalties currently apply throughout the EU and to enhance international cooperation, in particular with the Union’s Eastern neighbours.

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