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Luxembourg, 20 10/01/13

Special Report: EU assistance implemented through United Nations organisations: decision-making and monitoring


The aid implemented by the European Commission through United Nations organisations amounted to over 1 billion euro in 2008. The European Court of Auditors has examined whether decisions to channel aid through the UN have been the result of a transparent and objective selection process and whether monitoring arrangements provide adequate information on the achievement of objectives and the robustness of financial procedures .

The European Parliament in its discharge decisions has questioned why the Commission channels funds through the UN, and encouraged more direct management by the Commission. It has expressed concern at the lack of transparency and visibility concerning Commission funding through the UN and has requested assurance on the adequacy of the management of these funds.

R egarding the process for deciding to implement aid through the UN , the Court concludes that the strategic and legal requirements to select partners in an objective and transparent way are insufficiently translated into practical criteria to support decision-making. T he Commission does not convincingly demonstrate, before deciding to work with a UN organisation, that it has assessed whether the advantages offset any disadvantages.

The choice of a UN organisation is not based on sufficient evidence that this approach is more efficient and effective than other ways of delivering aid. Neither the Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office nor the Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid systematically carries out formal appraisals of alternative aid delivery mechanisms. Despite this, the Commission has indicated that it is generally satisfied with its choices to work through UN organisations and states that, in some cases, it has no alternatives, particularly in crisis situations.

Regarding the systems for monitoring aid delivered through the UN, the Commission carries out a prior assessment of the financial control systems of its UN partners. It seeks confirmation on the practical operation of these systems and the achievement of results through UN reports and its own field monitoring and verification missions.

However, the Court concludes that the Commission has not yet succeeded in obtaining from UN reports adequate information on the efficiency of implementation and the achievement of objectives. Whilst the Commission’s own field monitoring provides complementary information, it is insufficient to fully compensate for these limitations.

The UN Panel of External Auditors has continually questioned the Commission’s right to check expenditure. It argues that its own audit arrangements are sufficient, but does not provide the Commission with satisfactory evidence that financial control procedures work in practice. The Court of Auditors has also encountered difficulties accessing information from UN organisations when carrying out its annual financial audit of the Commission’s accounts.

On the basis of its observations, the Court makes recommendations to improve decision-making procedures and to focus on the achievement of results which could help the Commission provide more efficient and effective aid.

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The purpose of this press release is to give a summary of the Special Report adopted by the Court of Auditors which is available on the Court’s Internet site ( ) and will be published shortly in a printed format.

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