The European Structural and Investment funds (ESIF) are the EU’s main investment policies, but implementing them generates administrative costs. According to a report by the European Court of Auditors, those administrative costs are relatively low compared to those of other similar EU and internationally funded programmes. However, the collected data on costs was insufficient to assess the impact of simplifying EU cohesion policy funds rules.
The aim of the EU’s cohesion policy is to reduce development disparities between regions, restructure declining industrial areas, and encourage cooperation across the European Union. Expenditure in this area accounts for around 37 % of overall spending under the EU budget: it amounted to €352 billion in the 2014-2020 period.
Cohesion policy is implemented through operational programmes (OPs), whereby the Commission adopts a proposal by a Member State of how the EU and national funds allocated to the programmes are to be spent. The actual management and control is then delegated to the Member State authorities. Member States can ask financial support from the EU budget for “technical assistance” for all activities necessary to carry out a programme, including the necessary personnel costs.
“Information on administrative costs for EU-funded programmes should be complete and publicly available to demonstrate to our citizens that policies are being implemented efficiently”, said Pietro Russo, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the audit. “Our findings and conclusions are relevant for the 2021-2027 programme period, as well as for increasing the effectiveness of the management and control systems in the Member States”.