Little interest in assessing effectiveness of EU subsidies

Trend: Although the EU is improving its financial management bit by bit, major improvements are still needed

Writing in the EU Trend Report 2015 (published on 11 February 2015), the Netherlands Court of Audit concludes that, at present, effectiveness is not one of the criteria applied in assessing projects performed in the Netherlands with the aid of EU grants. This is in line with the terms and conditions under which the grants in question are allocated. Grant recipients are assessed on the basis of their work, not the results they have achieved. The result is lost opportunities for making better use of EU funds, particularly in relation to projects for which information is available on their effects. One good example of this is a project undertaken by a regional training centre in Groningen for helping immigrants to integrate into Dutch society: the grant allocation for this successful project – which could serve as a model for others in terms of effectiveness – is based on the number of participants. There is a similar situation in the selection of projects for EU grants: those responsible for the selection procedure take little account of their likely effectiveness. Government bodies in the Netherlands do not always stick to their own tendering procedures. The Court of Audit encountered errors in 3.9% of aggregate spending from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The main causes of errors in tendering procedures are a lack of knowledge and incompetence.