Answer given by Mr Piebalgs on behalf of the Commission
EU funded projects, including those in areas such as democracy and human rights or civil society support to the peace process, have to respond to clear EU policy objectives and are selected and managed in a transparent manner in line with the respective rules stipulated in the ‘Financial Regulation and implementing rules’.
These rules cover all grant cycle phases starting from programming and launching of calls for proposals, grants selection, award, ex post publication of grants awarded as well as implementation, control and payment of grants.
The calls for proposals guidelines are published on the web and include a clear set of evaluation criteria. The Evaluation Committees evaluate proposals exclusively on the basis of these transparent criteria. Moreover, in compliance with the ex post publication requirements of the ‘Financial Regulation and implementing rules’ the Commission publishes annually on the web the beneficiary organisations, the title of the grants awarded and the grant amounts.
The contractual obligations are binding for all grant beneficiaries implementing the selected projects. The Commission, however, does not impose any views on the grant beneficiaries and their partners because support for democracy implies full respect for diversity of opinion and freedom of expression as long as these are in line with fundamental democratic principles. The Commission requires though that all project publications carry a disclaimer stating clearly that the contents of a particular document can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the positions of the European Union.
The operational and financial aspects of the grant contracts implementation are regularly monitored and controlled through various channels, such as external monitoring, monitoring by Delegations, regular contact with beneficiaries, formal and comprehensive reporting mechanisms, etc. aiming to determine how the project’s objectives have been attained and to make sure that EU funding is used to reach the agreed objectives in line with the provisions of the grant agreement.
The external result oriented monitoring, however useful as a management tool, constitutes a non‑conclusive monitoring function focusing largely on projects bigger than those usually funded under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) or partnership for peace and, in any case, any external monitoring could not substitute for the complete set of monitoring and control functions that remain a public authority task applied by the Commission to all contracts. The complete set of all the evaluation reports for external actions produced by the Evaluation Unit from 1997 onwards are available online on: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/how/evaluation/evaluation_reports/index_en.htm.
Furthermore, every year external actions are also subject to the European Court of Auditors' scrutiny where the Court checks whether the budget has been correctly accounted for and spent in line with rules and legislation in force. The Court presents the results of its audits to the European Parliament which as the discharge authority together with the Council is also scrutinising the implementation of the budget.