Irregularities and fraud
Irregularity is defined in Article 1(2) of Regulation (EC) No 2988/955 as any infringement of a provision of Community law resulting from an act or omission by an economic operator that has or would have, the effect of prejudicing the general budget of the Communities or budgets managed by them, either by reducing or losing revenue accruing from own resources collected directly on behalf of the Communities, or by an unjustified item of expenditure.
Every identified irregularity must be either withdrawn or corrected in the accounts.
The same definition of irregularity is also enshrined in the Common Provisions Regulation, apart from the fact that Annex XII to CPR provides detailed rules and templates for reporting irregularities.
Fraud is defined in the Convention drawn up on the basis of the Treaty on European Union on the protection of the European Communities financial interests as any intentional act or omission relating to:
(i) The use or presentation of false, incorrect or incomplete statements or documents that have as its effect the misappropriation or wrongful retention of funds from the general budget of the European Communities or budgets managed by, or on behalf of, the European Communities;
(ii) non-disclosure of information in violation of a specific obligation, with the same effect;
(iii) the misapplication of such funds for purposes other than those for which they were originally granted.
Therefore, fraud always involves an intentional act, while errors or irregularities are unintentional misstatements. However, Member States shall ensure the legality and regularity of expenditure included in the accounts submitted to the Commission and shall take all required actions to prevent, detect, correct and report on irregularities, including fraud (CPR, Article 69(2)(12)). If irregularities and fraud are confirmed, the applicable flat rate for financial corrections shall be applied. If financial corrections apply, proportionality with the nature and gravity of irregularities shall be observed (quantification of financial impact).
Where to start
The responsibilities of the MA are set out in Article 74(1) of the CPR and offer a good starting point. As mentioned above Annex XII to CPR provides detailed rules and templates for reporting irregularities.
What we are working on
At the Interreg Knowledge Fair, a session will explore the topic of irregularities and fraud and support an exchange with the Interreg programmes.
We will also provide support to the Interreg programmes about proportionality when applying the guidelines for determining financial corrections.