The data the EU uses for granting budget support variable tranches to partner countries is not always solid enough to take informed decisions, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. Performance indicators and their targets are sometimes not relevant, which makes it difficult to assess whether partner countries have made progress in implementing reforms as agreed. Decisions to release the budget support payments may therefore not always have been sufficiently justified, say the auditors.
Each year, the EU transfers on average some €1.7 billion to partner countries, provided they comply with agreed conditions for payment. The purpose of this form of aid, known as ‘budget support’, is to help EU partners implement reforms. About 44 % of EU payments for budget support contracts are ‘variable tranches’, which are paid based on results achieved in relation to specified performance indicators. The auditors therefore assessed the relevance and reliability of the data used by the European Commission for disbursing variable tranches under budget support.
“The EU is the largest provider of budget support globally to help partner countries in their reform efforts and in achieving the United Nations’ sustainable development goals”, said Hannu Takkula, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “But before any money is paid out, the Commission should pay more attention that it has the correct data to determine whether sufficient progress has been made.”