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IP/06/1343

Brussels, 10 October 2006

Better EU budget transparency as Commission discloses beneficiaries of funding

As part of the European Transparency Initiative to improve the openness and accessibility of EU institutions, the Commission is publishing information about end-beneficiaries of centrally-managed EU funds on its EUROPA website. From 10 October 2006, two web sites containing information on EU grants and public contracts will be available to the public. The move follows a communication in November 2005 calling for increased transparency about the EU's handling of responsibilities and funds entrusted to it by European citizens.

I hope this concrete step will enable better public scrutiny of how European taxpayers’ money is spent” said Margot Wallström, Vice president of the Commission responsible for Communication and Inter-institutional Relations. Vice President Siim Kallas, Commissioner in charge of administrative affairs, audit and anti-fraud, said “Transparency is essential for the integrity and credibility of our political institutions. Today, the Commission delivers transparency on the EU funds it manages directly. We hope this will help convince Member States to do likewise for the EU funds that they manage. The Commission is convinced our policies are justified and effective, but it is difficult to convince the public if, for three quarters of the EU budget, we continue to refuse to disclosure who the beneficiaries are."

There are two main types of EU-funding, funds which are managed centrally and directly by the Commission, such as those in the field of research, and funds whose management is shared between the EU and the Member States, such as the common agricultural and fisheries policies. In the latter case, the EU entrusts management to the Member States. The bulk of EU spending, 76% is spent on funds which are under EU Member States' shared management.  The availability of beneficiaries’ data depends on each Member State. As there are no common standards about the extent to which information is made public, Member States are left entirely to their discretion. Information on beneficiaries of the Common Agricultural Policy therefore is currently available in only eleven Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK) and with wide variations in the level of detail provided.

According to the strategic objectives of the European Commission for 2005-2009, the highest standards of transparency are essential for the legitimacy of any modern administration. The timing of this online publication coincides with the closure of an open consultation period on the European Transparency Initiative Green Paper which has been adopted on 3 May 2006. This consultation gave the public the opportunity to participate in shaping policy on the role of interest groups or lobbyists, minimum standards for consultation with civil society and the introduction of legal obligations on Member States regarding the disclosure of information on the beneficiaries of funds under shared management.
Beneficiaries of Grants:

http://ec.europa.eu/grants/beneficiaries_en.htm

Beneficiaries of Public Contracts: http://ec.europa.eu/public_contracts/beneficiaries_en.htm
European Transparency Initiative:

http://ec.europa.eu/eti/index_en.htm


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