European Court of Auditors criticism of proposed budget increase for EU Civil Defence Mechanism

European Court of Auditors criticism of proposed budget increase for EU Civil Defence Mechanism

On 20 October 2020, Swedish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Charlie Weimers of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, filed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:

“Civil defence is an exclusive national competence. The Commission is proposing to increase the budget of the Civil Defence Mechanism from EUR 1.4 billion to EUR 3.5 billion during the 2021-2027 period.

The Court of Auditors has highlighted ‘the absence of a proper needs assessment’, adding ‘there is very little evidence in the proposal of the need for this €2 billion budget increase, as it does not provide any estimate of the costs associated with those new tasks’.

According to the Court, ‘this makes it impossible to determine whether the proposed budget is appropriate for achieving the intended objectives’. Lastly, the Court stated that ‘it remains to be decided how its increased resources will be used and monitored’ and that ‘some of the new objectives proposed lack any corresponding performance indicators or specific monitoring’.

  1. Has the Commission considered including a mechanism for reporting the UCPM’s actual spending, as recommended by the Court in its opinion?
  2. Will it address the lack of performance indicators and a ‘needs assessment’, as recommended by the Court?
  3. Since its inception, the Mechanism has responded to over 330 requests for assistance. How many were requests inside the EU and how many were requests from outside?”

On 8 January 2021, Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic, responded on behalf of the European Commission. In his answer he reported that:

“1. Budget execution is the prerogative of the Commission. In its implementation, the Commission is fully committed to transparency and predictability. Funding priorities for the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) activities are discussed and agreed in the Comitology Committee in the form of Annual or Multi-Annual Work Programmes. The introduction of additional reporting requirements under the UCPM could create an undue administrative burden, and consequently hamper the budgetary execution when responding to emergencies.

2. Work Programmes define each activity under the UCPM in terms of concrete indicators, expected results and outputs. These support the subsequent monitoring, evaluation and auditing processes. The Work Programmes accompany a financing decision on which Member States have to provide a positive opinion, thus ensuring a proper monitoring of expenditure of the UCPM budget. As regards needs assessments, the Commission has identified and shared lessons-learnt on the Covid-19 crisis with Member States as part of its Lessons-Learnt Programme. It is preparing to submit a capacity gap report that will clearly identify needs under the UCPM.

3. Since its inception in 2002, and as of 9 November 2020, the Union Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated 423 times: 155 activations for emergencies inside the EU and 268 for emergencies outside the EU.”

Source: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/E-9-2020-005694_EN.html 

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