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Parliamentary questions
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2 May 2019
E-000762/2019(ASW)
Answer given by Mr Oettinger on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-000762/2019

The Commission manages EU taxpayer’s funds in compliance with the EU regulatory framework. It continuously strives to improve its systems to ensure transparency towards the EU taxpayers. The recommendations of the European Court of Auditors will feed into these efforts.

The rules on sub-granting were clarified in the 2018 Financial Regulation, including within the context of networks of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), ensuring their consistent application. For projects implemented by several beneficiaries, in some policy areas (e.g. research) the Commission already records information on all beneficiaries of EU funds. In others (e.g. external relations), the Commission is developing a management system that will enable recording of funding to all beneficiaries contracted by the EU. It is to be finalised by 2021. In indirect management, the Commission is committed to ensuring, through appropriate verifications, that United Nations bodies correctly apply their rules and procedures.

On the justification for the system used to classify entities as NGOs, note that while the term NGO is widely used, it has no official definition in international or EC law. There are however two generally accepted criteria to consider an entity as an NGO: it is both private and not-for profit. Entities meeting these two criteria, which are objective and verified by the Commission services, are allowed to identify themselves as an NGO. Changes to the system would require an EU level harmonisation of the concept of an NGO and should be agreed by the legislator. The Commission cannot establish such criteria acting alone. In addition, diverse understandings of ‘NGOs’ between countries or policy areas suggest that such harmonisation may be problematic. 

Last updated: 3 May 2019Legal notice