29th July 2014
European Union (EU) member states have been told they still need to do more to combat fraud, although major progress has been made according to a new report.
The European Commission's annual report on the protection of financial interests shows detected fraud in EU spending accounts for less than 0.2 per cent of all funds.
Algirdas Semeta, commissioner for taxation, customs, statistics, audit and anti-fraud, stated that the EU has taken the fight against fraud to a "new level" over the course of the last five years.
He said: "Our commitment to protect citizens' money from fraudsters is clear from the tough and ambitious new rules, initiatives and frameworks we have put forward. Now it is time for member states to play their part more effectively. They need to step up their game in preventing, detecting and prosecuting those who try to defraud the EU budget."
Fraud affecting the EU budget was revealed by the new report to have decreased slightly in 2013 compared to 2012, with €248 million in EU funds found to have been affected by fraud, which is equivalent to 0.19 per cent of the expenditure budget.
The European Commission's annual report stated that this was a 21 per cent fall on the previous year, when €315 million was lost to fraud. Despite this drop, it was noted that the number of cases reported in EU spending was up compared to the previous year, which the organisation suggested could be due to "stronger measures to detect fraud at an earlier stage", as well as improved reporting of fraud by member states.
Although significant progress on reducing fraud has been seen in the last 12 months, the Commission still wants member states to "review their controls to ensure they are risk-based and well-targeted", while "greater efforts at national level both on combatting and detecting fraud should be deployed".
Among the major ways the Commission has stepped up the fight against EU fraud is through the foundation of the multi-annual Anti-Fraud Strategy, which the body said was "pivotal" in raising awareness of instances of fraud across the continent.
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