The European Community has set up the Hercule programme to promote activities related to the protection of its financial interests.
Decision No 804/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 establishing a Community action programme to promote activities in the field of the protection of the Community's financial interests (Hercule programme) [See amending acts].
With a budget of nearly 12 million, the Hercule programme was designed to support the following measures:
- the organisation of seminars and conferences;
- the promotion of scientific studies and discussions on Community policies in the field of the protection of the Community's financial interests;
- the coordination of activities relating to the protection of the Community's financial interests;
- training and awareness;
- promoting exchanges of specialised staff;
- the dissemination of scientific information;
- the development and supply of specific IT tools;
- technical assistance;
- promoting and enhancing the exchange of data. On condition that they were located in one of the 25 Member States, in the EFTA/EEA countries, on the basis of the EEA Agreement (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), in Bulgaria, Romania or Turkey, three types of organisation were eligible to receive a grant in 2004-06:
- national or regional administrations;
- research and education institutes with legal personality;
- non-profit-making bodies with legal personality. Aid applications were assessed on the basis of the criteria set out in the annex to the Decision. These criteria were, inter alia, consistency of the proposed activity with the objectives of the programme, complementary nature with respect to other activities receiving support and feasibility, i.e. the specific possibilities of implementation through the means proposed.
The aid amount could not exceed the following rates:
- 50 % of eligible expenditure for technical support;
- 80 % of eligible expenditure for training measures, promoting exchanges between specialised staff and organising seminars and conferences;
- 90 % of eligible expenditure for organising seminars, conferences and other events.
In addition, the amount of an operating grant awarded to finance a body's operating expenditure could not exceed 70 % of the body's eligible expenditure for the calendar year. If operating grants were renewed, they were degressive.
HERCULE II (2007-13)
The Hercule II programme covers the period from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013. The financial envelope for that period is 98.5 million.
The programme provides for Community financing through the granting of aid, but is also available for public procurement contracts. The rules for Community financing are laid down in Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 as subsequently amended. In contrast to the previous programme, "operating" grants can no longer be awarded. Consequently, all the funds available for 2007-013 are to be used for activity promotion through grants for activities or public procurement.
The main objectives of the Hercule II programme are:
- to enhance cooperation between the actors in the fight against fraud damaging to the Community's financial interests, i.e. the competent authorities in the Member States, the Commission and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF);
- to reinforce the networks for exchange of information between Member States, the accession countries and the candidate countries;
- to provide operational and technical support to law enforcement agencies in the Member States, particularly the customs authorities.
The Hercule II programme is designed to multiply and reinforce measures against cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting.
The organisations which are eligible for grants are the same as in the previous period, provided they are located in one of the 27 Member States, in the EFTA-EEA countries, on the basis of the EEA Agreement (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or in one of the EU candidate countries, on the basis of a memorandum of understanding. In addition, the western Balkan states, Russia and the countries covered by the European neighbourhood policy are also eligible for aid in respect of expenditure relating to participation by their representatives.
The Commission assesses applications on the basis of criteria such as the consistency of the proposed activity with the programme objectives, the relationship between the costs and benefits of the measure, the scope of the public targeted, etc. However, the aid granted cannot cover all the expenditure. The maximum rates of aid, which are the same as those that were in force for 2004-06, are as follows:
- 50 % of eligible expenditure for technical support;
- 80 % of eligible expenditure for training measures, promoting exchanges between specialised staff and organising seminars and conferences, in respect of national or regional administrations:
- 90 % of eligible expenditure for organising seminars, conferences and other events, in respect of research and education institutes or non-profit-making organisations.
Throughout the period of the contract or agreement and up to five years after the final payment, the Commission may carry out inspections on the use of the Community financing. If necessary, the Commission may decide to recover the grant paid. The Commission and the persons authorised by it have the right to access the places in which the measure is implemented as well as all the information required in order to carry out the inspection. The European Court of Auditors and OLAF have the same rights.
|Act||Entry into force - Date of expiry||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Decision 804/2004/EC||01.5.2004||-||OJ L 143, 30.4.2004|
|Amending act(s)||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Decision 878/2007/EC||26.7.2007||-||OJ L 193, 25.07.2007|