The European Commission’s reporting on how EU spending programmes perform shows mixed results in different funding areas, and the indicators which measure progress towards targets do not focus enough on results. These are some of the conclusions of the European Court of Auditors, which has published its 2020 report on the performance of a selection of EU spending programmes. Although some of the spending programmes examined were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, in some the available information shows that there has been progress in their performance. The auditors give a fairly positive assessment of the European Commission’s (and the co-legislators’) ability to use lessons learned from the past implementation of programmes to improve the design and performance of spending programmes for the 2021-2027 period. However, they also stress the need for the Commission to improve the use of impact assessments and follow-up actions arising from evaluations.
The auditors examined whether the Commission, Parliament and Council have used lessons learned (e.g. from evaluations, impact assessments and audits) to improve the design and performance of the new spending programmes for the 2021-2027 period. Based on the indicators submitted for 2020, as well as recent Commission evaluations and complemented by their own audit work, the auditors assessed whether selected programmes in main areas of the budget were on track to meet their objectives.
“The European Parliament and the Council want to know what results are achieved with the EU budget” said François-Roger Cazala, the ECA Member responsible for coordinating the report. “It is positive to observe that lessons learnt from the past implementation of spending programmes are often used to improve the design and the implementation of future spending programmes. Available information shows progress towards achieving programme objectives in some programmes, but too often it does not focus on results. We also saw evidence of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the performance of some programmes.”