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Court of Auditors - Special report on the MED programmes

The Court of Auditors of the European Communities has published a special report on the MED programmes of the European Commission. The MED programmes, of which there are six, aim to promote partnership and transfer knowledge and experience between European and Mediterranean or...
The Court of Auditors of the European Communities has published a special report on the MED programmes of the European Commission. The MED programmes, of which there are six, aim to promote partnership and transfer knowledge and experience between European and Mediterranean organizations. They consist of a range of decentralized cooperation actions undertaken by organizations in the public or private sectors of the European Union and Mediterranean countries. The sectors covered by the six programmes are local government (MED-Urbs), population exchanges (MED-Migration), higher education (MED-Campus), the media (MED-Media), research (MED-Avicenne) and business (MED-Invest).

The Court of Auditors found serious irregularities and mismanagement in the MED programmes. These irregularities were identified both in the central management of the programmes, which was undertaken by external companies appointed by the Commission, and at the project level. The Court also found the visible benefits from the projects to be very limited.

The Commission, replying to the Court's report, acknowledges that there have been a number of difficulties with the external contractors managing the programmes, particularly in relation to spending and conflicts of interest. However, according to the Commission, these problems are largely the result of interim arrangements made to allow the programmes to get established quickly and these arrangements have now been superseded by arrangements made under more regular procedures.

The Commission has taken a number of measures to rectify specific undesirable situations identified by the Court, and suggests that new procedures and a reorganization implemented within DG IB (External relations) of the Commission will avoid a recurrence of these problems.

As regards the benefits of the projects, the Commission argues that the value of the MED programmes is one of long-term increases in mutual understanding and the promotion of civil society in the Mediterranean partner countries. The results of individual projects should therefore be seen as a part of the overall aims of the programmes, and not as stand-alone projects.
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