EU regulations and directives need to be carefully observed
The national and regional administration of EU Funding is subject to uniform EU-wide regulations. These regulations implementation can prove especially challenging in terms how they are applied and how funding can be taken up more efficiently. It is our aim to simplify these regulations and their practical application. The European Academy for Taxes, Economy & Law supports administrative authorities throughout Europe in implementing these rules and regulations so that applicants for funding from all parts of Europe make progress and benefit from the Academy’s special training courses.
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EU Member States are nowadays entirely engaged in preparing the Operational Programmes for 2014-2020. In order to start with the implementation of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) 2014-2020, the Operational Programmes must be approved by the European Commission and the Member States must set up their new Management and Control Systems (MCS).
The proper handling of the rules for the eligibility of expenditure in EU funded projects has proven to be very challenging and remains difficult in the new period 2014-2020. Disregarding the rules for eligibility of expenditure causes many irregularities.
Practitioners in the field of State aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors currently face the challenge of significant changes to the existing legislation. The European Commission has substantially modified the existing State aid rules in these sectors.
Technical Assistance (TA) for European Structural Funds has been in use for several years now. However, there are many changes that will apply to Technical Assistance in the new Programming Period 2014-2020.
In the new Programming Period 2014-2020 Article 13 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006 that stipulates certain procedures and requirements for verification will be repealed. Managing Authorities and Intermediate Bodies will have to meet new standards regarding the implementation of administrative and on-the-spot verifications.
Many authorities within the management and control system of EU Funds still face considerable difficulties and uncertainties when it comes to detecting and handling (suspected) fraud cases. They are presented with the challenge of distinguishing these cases from irregularities as well as identifying necessary actions.
The new programming period is about to begin and the last one has to be brought to a successful conclusion. This symposium offers the national bodies in the Member States of the European Union the possibility to exchange first-hand experiences concerning the implementation and utilisation of the structures and instruments of the new programming period with their European peers and in dialogue with the European Commission and the European Court of Auditors.
EU Member States have already made some practical experiences with Financial Engineering Instruments. However, in the last programming period, only 5% of the entire ERDF resources were distributed through Financial Instruments (FI). For the current programming period 2014-2020, the European Commission demands an increased use of this innovative tool.
Public procurement for research equipment, scientific materials and research services is most challenging for all stakeholders in Higher Education and Research Institutions as well as in University Hospitals.
The current Programming Period 2014-2020 holds lots of opportunities to fund innovative ideas and projects. The architecture of European Funds and direct grants continues to offer a wide range of funding opportunities in the Member States. However, funding is often not used as effectively as possible or it may be denied due to lack of knowledge or poor planning. Although the numerous programmes and initiatives have different features, the development and implementation of projects in practice follow common rules.
State aid officials administering national and European funding in all member states still face difficulties when applying the European Union’s complex system of State aid rules and procedures, which aim to prevent public authorities from using public money to support industries or offering unfair incentives.
The European Commission has set out detailed arrangements on the management and control systems to be operated by Member States for the EU Structural Funds in both programming periods (2007-2013 and 2014-2020).
A strong focus on results will be reinforced by the European Commission according to the draft regulations for EU funds for 2014-2020. Thus, EU funds authorities are asked to stipulate more precisely what changes and results are expected by the interventions of EU funds from the very beginning of the implementation of the new operational programmes (OPs).
For the purpose of simplifying the implementation of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) 2014-2020, the European Commission has widened the application of simplified cost options. The simplified cost options – flat rates for indirect costs, standard scales of unit costs and lump sums – signalise a departure from the principle of real costs. They lighten the administrative burden on beneficiaries and management bodies thus contributing to a more efficient, correct and increased use of the funds.
EU-funded projects put high demands on project leaders and coordinators. Especially correct financial accounting of projects constitutes a great challenge. Beneficiaries have to follow strict and complex rules set up by the European Commission. The project needs to be correctly managed with respect to its financial accounting.
Thanks to the new EU Cohesion Policy and the new Programming Period 2014-2020 of the European Union, there is more funding available for research, development and innovation than ever before. The EU has set out the goal to enhance investment and to strengthen Europe’s position in R&D&I. The majority of Member States therefore have adopted this goal and plan to dedicate more European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to this area. This development entails quite a large amount of new funding possibilities available for projects by universities, research centers and other potential beneficiaries.
EU Funds Project Managers have to deal with several challenging management tasks specific to EU Funds. Their work refers to different aspects and phases of project and programme management which require a high level of expertise.
The correct handling of irregularities in EU funded projects is still a very difficult issue for all bodies involved in the management and control systems of EU funds. As the number of irregularities reported remains very high, the European Commission stresses that Member States need to continue their efforts in order to minimise the rate of irregularities. Thus, the topic of irregularities has to remain a priority for Member States as well.