Action plan 2001 - 2003
To lay down the priority measures to be implemented by the Commission departments in the next three years.
2) COMMUNITY MEASURES
Protection of the Communities' financial interests. Fight against fraud. Action plan for 2001-2003.
In June 2000, the Commission presented a Communication on an overall strategic approach for the protection of the Communities' financial interests and the fight against fraud, which identifies the major challenges to be tackled in the next five years. This action plan proposes to translate the overall strategic approach into a number of specific measures over the next three years.
In order to combat economic and financial crime against the Community budget, the plan outlines four challenges:
- Developing an overall anti-fraud policy;
- Fostering a culture of cooperation between all authorities responsible;
- An inter-institutional approach to preventing and fighting fraud and corruption;
- Strengthening the criminal law dimension.
A summary table of the measures to be undertaken is attached to the proposal.
Developing an overall anti-fraud policy
The Commission notes that illegal activities affecting the Communities' financial interests often exploit shortcomings in legislation. Thus, the Commission proposes to:
- Develop the prevention dimension by analysing the risks and filtering out the highly sensitive cases (such as legislation relating to contracts, public procurement and the protection of the euro against counterfeiting);
- Boost awareness amongst the most vulnerable categories of staff;
- Strengthen legal instruments for detecting, controlling and penalising fraud. Administrative cooperation and mutual assistance should lead to more effective prevention of indirect tax fraud, in particular with regard to the EAGGF.
In addition, the Commission does not rule out the possibility of reviewing the provisions relating to on-the-spot checks and inspections, which serve as a basis for OLAF's involvement in investigations by the Member States.
Strengthening operational cooperation between all competent authorities
5.OLAF is a powerful instrument in the fight against fraud. OLAF can help organise better use of information (operational and legal) and define innovative working methods. OLAF's aim should be to collect, analyse and make available to the Member States all information of use in the fight against fraud against the Communities' financial interests.
In addition, the Commission proposes to
- Redefine COCOLAF's internal working methods while considering an amendment to Article 280 of the EC Treaty;
- Use the synergy between the Commission and various external bodies such as : Eurojust, Europol and Interpol;
- Improve partnership with the Member States in order to fight all forms of transnational crime effectively (tax fraud, money laundering , corruption...) and to organise judicial, cooperation more proactively.
Cooperating at inter-institutional level to prevent and combat fraud and corruption
The Commission emphasises that OLAF's task, when acting as an internal investigation service, is not to investigate systematically but to process information supplied to it by the members of the institutions as part of their duty to cooperate. Moreover, it recalls that a clear breakdown of tasks will be necessary between OLAF and the future Investigation and Disciplinary Office (IDO) to be set up in the Directorate-General for Personnel and Administration of the European Commission.
Strengthening the criminal judicial dimension
Before the end of 2001, the Commission will relaunch discussion of its proposal in the form of a Green Paper on establishing a European Public Prosecutor with jurisdiction for internal and external investigations relating to the protection of the Communities' financial interests (the proposal was not taken up at the Nice European Council).
With regard to judicial cooperation in criminal matters, it will be essential to:
- Simplify judicial assistance procedures and procedures for letters rogatory;
- Improve judicial coordination by the mutual recognition of judgements. With regard to cooperation between judicial authorities, the Commission notes that negotiations relating to Eurojust are under way within the Council and that a provisional unit for judicial cooperation was set up on 14 December 2000.
On the question of police cooperation, Europol's mandate has been extended to cover money laundering. The Commission actively supports the extension of Europol's powers in all domains relating to the fight against organised crime and it envisages strengthened cooperation with OLAF with regard to the protection of the Communities' financial interests.
4) DEADLINE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LEGISLATION IN THE MEMBER STATES
5) DATE OF ENTRY INTO FORCE (if different from previous date)
COM(2001) 254 final
Not published in the Official Journal