EU innovation and networks audit finds flaws in project selection, synergy

eu innovation and networks audit
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The European Court of Auditors has completed an audit into the EU Innovation and Networks Executive Agency.

The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) was established in 2013 as a successor to the Trans-European Transport Network Executive Agency, with project management responsibilities over the EU’s transport, infrastructure, energy and telecommunications sectors. The agency operates with a budget of more than €33bn – the highest amount managed by an executive agency in the EU – comprising 93% of the total budget for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and 7% of the budget for Horizon 2020.

The Auditors’ report, titled ‘INEA: benefits delivered but CEF shortcomings to be addressed’, details the results of the audit, which examined the delivery and implementation of the INEA’s full portfolio of nearly 2,000 projects. The report notes that, while INEA project delivery was largely effective and achieved the majority of their projected benefits, procedures had not been fully aligned and project selection was flawed. The Auditors highlight in particular the lack of synergy between the sectors covered by the agency, noting: ‘INEA has not yet taken full advantage of having closely related policy domains under a single umbrella.’

The report also outlines flaws in the selection and delivery of projects operated through the Connecting Europe Facility. The audit found project delivery and evaluation to be inconsistent; while Auditors found ‘no systematic link’ between recommendations by experts and the decisions made by the agency on project selection.

The report recommends a number of further actions to improve the work of the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency:

  • Improving co-ordination between the three main sectors – energy, telecommunications and transport – overseen by the INEA;
  • Promoting greater transparency and coherence on the selection process determining which projects may receive INEA support; and
  • Improving monitoring processes to ensure closer oversight of projects.

Oskar Herics, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report, said: “The Commission should strengthen the legal framework for INEA’s management of the delegated spending programmes. This is essential to ensure a more transparent use of EU funds and to contribute fully to the overarching goal of advancing the trans-European networks.”

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