The EU’s massive commitment to spend €672.5 billion on the recovery from the pandemic is at risk of corruption and misuse due to a serious lack of transparency and accountability mechanisms, according to an analysis by civil society organisations from across Europe.
The analysis released today by the newly-formed Open Procurement EU Coalition looks at 22 EU Member States’ plans for spending the Recovery and Resilience Facility, and found that 20 countries are not planning to release information about the recipients of the funds.
The analysis also found that just one country (Sweden) has committed to publishing audit reports and its reporting back to the European Commission. A further concern is that the information will not be available from the European Commission.
Seven countries did not commit to any transparency in the spending of the funds: Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia.
“The stunning lack of transparency commitments totally undermines the important oversight role of civil society and investigative journalists to ensure there is no corruption or abuse in the use of these funds,” said Nicholas Aiossa of Transparency International EU.
The analysis of the national Recovery and Resilience Plans also found that while two thirds (68%) make some mention of proactive publication of information, these are vague commitments to publishing more general information.
“Without precise and detailed information about how the funds are used, we will not be able to assess if the spending is contributing to advancing the European Green Deal, despite the European Commission claiming that combating climate change is ‘the lifeline out of the pandemic’,” said Helen Darbishire, of Access Info, which worked on the evaluation of the national plans.
Only four countries – Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Sweden – score well on proactive communication, yet no country has stated that it will provide accessible, open data on their spending.
“Transparency and open data are key as the pandemic has laid bare how opaque and paper-based systems can be abused,” commented Gavin Hayman of the Open Contracting Partnership. “Open procurement will take a central role to ensure the spending turns into the quality public services and infrastructure intended.”
|Points out of 6 for transparency and accountability
The Recovery and Resilience Facility is an historic intervention by the EU, which will see €672.5 billion in loans and grants to mitigate the economic and social impact of the pandemic.
The report is the first analysis by the Open Procurement EU Coalition, a collaboration of non-government organisations and professionals working to ensure that public procurement is spent fairly, openly, efficiently, and creates the best value for money and best outcomes for Europeans.
The Open Procurement EU Coalition is working at the national and EU levels to advance the principles of openness in procurement within the EU. The Coalition and its members will advocate for stakeholder engagement and user-friendly, accessible information across the entire procurement process by European governments from the planning to the tender and award of contracts, to their delivery.
The analysis can be accessed here.