Brussels, 20 December 2006
First success for European Transparency Initiative – Annual disclosure of recipient data for EU funds
With adoption of the revised Financial Regulation the EU has committed itself to full transparency about who receives monies from the EU budget. There will be annual ex-post publication of beneficiaries of money received from the Structural Funds as from 2008 and of money received under the Common Agricultural Policy as of 2009. The Commission has itself already started publishing information on beneficiaries under the programmes it manages directly. With this, the European Commission's ambitious Transparency Initiative launched end 2005 has achieved its first objective. The European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee is today debating a working document on the Transparency Initiative.
For Vice-President Kallas, the legal requirement to disclose beneficiary information for EU funds is an important step forward towards increased accountability: "This is a great success for the European Transparency Initiative. Transparency is a key means of ensuring fairness of decision-making and public oversight; it gives citizens the opportunity for real democratic participation."
Making data about beneficiaries of EU funds publicly available is one of the cornerstones of the European Transparency Initiative. The others are: transparency of lobbying and representation of interests, ethics of public office holders and the effectiveness of public consultation mechanisms. A Green Paper published earlier in 2006 led to a broad public debate, in particular on lobbying activities. The Commission will come forward with concrete proposals in early 2007. The Commission follows with great interest the ongoing reflections on transparency in the European Parliament and in particular would welcome an inter-institutional debate on common ethical standards for public office holders The contributions to the Green Paper and all information on the Transparency Initiative is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kallas/transparency_en.htm
The disclosure rules now established form part of a wider reform of financial management rules, laid down in the EU's central Financial Regulation. Key elements of this reform are: simplification of procedures, reducing red tape and increasing flexibility. A new database will contain organisations that have been excluded from EU funding because of convictions for fraud or corruption linked to EU funded programmes; a major asset in protecting the Communities' financial interests. (See also Commission press release of 30 November 2006)