An EU initiative managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) to help Member States apply for Cohesion and Regional Funds suffers from significant weaknesses, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. The 'Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions' initiative (JASPERS) contributed to quicker project approval, but could not have an impact on absorption of EU funds, say the auditors. They find that support under JASPERS should be better targeted.
The European Commission and the European Investment Bank set up JASPERS to provide Member States joining after 2004 with independent, free-of-charge advice to help them prepare high-quality proposals for large-scale regional investment projects.
The auditors visited Croatia, Malta, Poland and Romania, and the audit covered the period from 2006 until the end of 2016. They found weaknesses in the definition of JASPERS' main objectives and roles and responsibilities. This resulted in shortcomings in its operations and put accountability at risk.
“JASPERS did not target its assistance sufficiently, which led to a high number of cancelled and suspended assignments”, said Oskar Herics, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “While it was conceived for the 2007 to 2013 period and then extended, it has no clear measurable objectives to show that its purpose has been achieved.”