The EU External Borders Fund (EBF): European Court of Auditors’ Special Report No 15/2014

02-12-2014

This Briefing provides a succinct overview of the key findings and recommendations of a recent European Court of Auditors’ Special Report – in this case, on the operation of the EU’s External Borders Fund – and also summarises the European Commission’s reaction to the report, as well as the European Parliament’s activities and position on the issue. It has been produced by the Policy Performance Appraisal Unit of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), as part of its routine analytical work on the implementation and operation of existing EU legislation, programmes and policies in practice. The document concludes that the European Court of Auditors, the European Commission and the Member States all agree that the External Borders Fund (EBF) has fostered financial solidarity between Member States and contributed positively to external border management. However, there were strategic and operational weaknesses in the Fund's programming and implementation, both at Member State and Commission level: national programmes were lacking measurable objectives and indicators; there were weaknesses in Member States’ procurement procedures; and there were deficiencies in the monitoring and in the ex-post evaluations by the Commission and Members States. More emphasis should be given to the design of future funding programmes, which should focus on creating sustainable, measurable and visible European added value. The right balance should be achieved between accountability and excessive administrative burdens. Special attention should be given to the quality of the Commission's evaluation reports, scrutinising their objectivity and timeliness, the accuracy and reliability of data presented, and their usefulness for the design of the successor funding programmes, as these are fundamental tools within the policy cycle, which help to identify future policy challenges.

This Briefing provides a succinct overview of the key findings and recommendations of a recent European Court of Auditors’ Special Report – in this case, on the operation of the EU’s External Borders Fund – and also summarises the European Commission’s reaction to the report, as well as the European Parliament’s activities and position on the issue. It has been produced by the Policy Performance Appraisal Unit of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), as part of its routine analytical work on the implementation and operation of existing EU legislation, programmes and policies in practice. The document concludes that the European Court of Auditors, the European Commission and the Member States all agree that the External Borders Fund (EBF) has fostered financial solidarity between Member States and contributed positively to external border management. However, there were strategic and operational weaknesses in the Fund's programming and implementation, both at Member State and Commission level: national programmes were lacking measurable objectives and indicators; there were weaknesses in Member States’ procurement procedures; and there were deficiencies in the monitoring and in the ex-post evaluations by the Commission and Members States. More emphasis should be given to the design of future funding programmes, which should focus on creating sustainable, measurable and visible European added value. The right balance should be achieved between accountability and excessive administrative burdens. Special attention should be given to the quality of the Commission's evaluation reports, scrutinising their objectivity and timeliness, the accuracy and reliability of data presented, and their usefulness for the design of the successor funding programmes, as these are fundamental tools within the policy cycle, which help to identify future policy challenges.