General News

Answer – Disappearance of EUR 1.6 million at the development organisation AWEPA – E-006368/2017

1. The Commission signed ten contracts with the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA), of which only one is still ongoing(1). The EU Delegations that have been involved are: Sudan, South-Sudan, Zimbabwe, Kenya/Somalia (contract ongoing). The total contracted amount was EUR 14 611 185.38; the total paid amount: EUR 12 511 133.38. None of the finished contracts have led to the detection of a financial irregularity on the basis of the contractual control mechanisms. Considering that the final payments have been processed on the basis of previously incurred expenditures and the latest one has been processed before the end of 2016, there is no direct link with the recent events that concerns a misappropriation of funds that has taken place in September 2017. The ongoing contract amounts to a total of EUR 2 882 306; amount paid: EUR 782 254; balance to be paid: EUR 2 100 052.

2. The Financial Regulations, its Rules of Application (RAP) and subsequent financial procedures(2) establish criteria that have to be verified by the Commission for mandatory compliance before signing a contract or a grant with an external organisation. Following the signature of the agreement, the contractual provisions require verification and monitoring of specific features of the organisation. In certain specific cases, the provisions of Article 108 of the regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(3) also require the recording of organisations constituting a risk to the EU financial interests in a central database of all EU institutions, agencies, bodies and offices, named Early Detection Exclusion System (better known as ‘EDES’, which has replaced the prior Early Warning System). Beyond these requirements, there is no legal provision requiring regular monitoring of all possible events that could affect all counterparts. The Commission took measures to protect the EU interests for the ongoing contract since it received the notification on 25 September 2017 on the proposed liquidation of AWEPA.

3. The responsible Commission service has suspended the payment concerning the second year of the ongoing contract with AWEPA. On the basis of the technical and financial report received together with the external audit verification report, there would be a maximum of EUR 218 585 to be justified. The procedure to recover the amount unduly paid has been launched and the responsible Commission service is in contact with the liquidator of AWEPA in order to establish the final amount to be recovered. The Commission can only recover funds under its responsibility, i.e. those originating from the general budget of the Union and the European Development Funds.

Further steps will be considered on the basis of the assessment of the situation by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to whom a formal notification on the situation has been sent.

(1) FED/2016/372-052, grant for action ‘Support to the legislative sector in Somalia’
(2) E.g. Practical Guide to Contract Procedures for EU External Actions
(3) Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 258 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council regulation (Ec, Euratom) No 1605/2002, (OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1).