The European Commission has adopted an updated Anti-Fraud Strategy designed to improve the detection and prevention of fraud across the EU.
The new Strategy is designed to improve coordination and consistency between the various Commission departments dealing with fraud offences, strengthening the Commission’s corporate oversight of fraud-related issues and reinforcing existing measures to prevent and detect fraud in Member States. It builds on the progress made under the previous Anti-Fraud Strategy, which came into force in 2011; while the 2011 strategy’s overarching principle of zero tolerance for fraud offences remains relevant, the Commission had identified a need to bring enforcement in line with the digital and technological advances of the last eight years.
The updated Anti-Fraud Strategy aims to optimise the Commission’s use of the available data to anticipate and identify offences pertaining to fraud, espousing a data-driven approach and encouraging the development of smart tools and protocols to help the drawing of operational conclusions. The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is accorded a more prominent role, with a new remit to conduct mandatory reviews of the deployment of anti-fraud measures within every Commission Directorate and a renewed commitment on the part of the Commission to follow up on the implementation of OLAF’s recommendations.
Günther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, said: “The European Commission has zero tolerance to fraud. Every euro from the EU budget should be well spent and should create added value for the EU citizens. Today’s Strategy will help us stay focused on preventing, detecting and stopping fraud. We must always remain one step ahead of fraudsters.”
The 2019 Anti-Fraud Strategy, which complements the Commission’s 2018 Governance Package, was designed in part according to recommendations issued by the EU Court of Auditors in their January 2019 special report on fraud. The report, titled Fighting Fraud in EU Spending: Action Needed, called for extensive OLAF reform and a comprehensive risk assessment.