Romania is among the top EU countries in terms of both the number and the amount of frauds involving European funds
Romania reported the largest number of frauds involving European funds of the member countries in 2014-2018, reads a report issued by the European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF. More precisely, 477 frauds were reported in the past 5 years, accounting for nearly one-third of the total number of frauds investigated at EU level. Romania is followed by Poland, Hungary and Italy. At the opposite pole, countries like Belgium, Luxembourg and Malta reported one fraud each during the same period.
Romania also ranks among the first in terms of the total amount of misappropriated funds. According to OLAF, Romania comes second, with frauds amounting to over 62 million euros, as against payments of around 14 billion euros made by the EU to Romania during these 5 years. First ranks Poland, with frauds amounting to some 110 million euros, followed by France, Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary.
As for last year, Romania once again reported the largest number of frauds involving EU funds, i.e. 114. The amount was over 18 million euros, again one-third of the amount embezzled at EU level. Whereas in Poland, the country with the highest fraud amount, the number of misdeeds dropped considerably, in Romania the number of offences rose from one year to the next, OLAF emphasised.
In fact, the European authorities announce that on the whole the number of frauds against the EU budget has dropped, but it has concentrated and increased in a small number of states. Thus, irregularities identified in 7 member countries (Italy, Romania, Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria, France and Lithuania) exceed 70% of the total number of offences reported last year at EU level. Also, the OLAF report emphasises that in 2018 the offences identified in only 2 countries, Romania and Italy, accounted for 61% of the total number of frauds EU-wide. The incidents were reported mostly in the field of agriculture and rural development funding.
EU budget frauds are expected to decrease in the coming years, given that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office is scheduled to become operational at the end of 2020. The institution will be in charge with investigating, prosecuting and bringing to justice crimes against the EU budget, such as fraud, corruption offences or cross-border VAT frauds in excess of 10 million euros. The EPPO will be headed by the Romanian Laura Codruta Kovesi, endorsed last month by both the European Parliament and the EU Council. So far 22 member states joined the EPPO network, including Romania.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)