21 December 2022
Raffaele Fitto, Minister for European Affairs, Southern Italy, Cohesion Policy and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, presented Italy’s AFCOS Report – Year 2021 today at the Sala Zuccari of Palazzo Giustiniani – Senate of the Republic. Issued by COLAF, the National Committee for Combating Fraud against the EU, the Report was issued by the dedicated Guardia di Finanza Unit, established at the Department for European Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
COLAF is Italy’s Central Anti-Fraud Coordination Service (AFCOS), the steering and driving force of all national administrations involved in the protection of EU’s financial interests. It is in charge of liaising with the relevant services of the European Commission, outlining the National Anti-Fraud Strategy and monitoring data on frauds and irregularities.
The Report offers a comprehensive analysis of the violations to the detriment of the EU detected in Italy in 2021, confirming the steady downward trend recorded in the last five years, with overall 477 cases in the area of Structural Funds, Common Agricultural Policy and Own Resources amounting to over EUR 55 million, down by around 15% and 37%, respectively, compared to 2020.
Minister Fitto’s address highlighted the upcoming challenges related to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan implementation and the difficulties posed by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, coupled with the energy crisis and inflation repercussions, "which require accelerating the overall expenditure management and introducing a renewed strategy to implement the National Recovery and Resilience Plan by means of Cohesion Policy funds and other financial opportunities, in order to innovatively and strongly manage all these instruments through more stringent synergic collaboration with EU institutions and relevant national actors." Minister Fitto added "This strategy of unity and complementarity, which our Country has been effectively pursuing for so long, may also inspire Italy’s AFCOS future protection of both EU's and national financial interests."
Carlo Corazza, Head of the European Parliament's Office in Italy, then took the floor, recalling the key principles underlying the EU budget control action and how the European Parliament has supported the European Commission's action plan aimed at protecting EU’s financial interests. He also emphasised how the work performed by the Italian Authorities that are members of the Committee has been invaluable in this regard.
Antonio Parenti, Head of the European Commission Representation in Italy underlined the extremely important role played by cooperation between the European Anti-Fraud Office and the Italian Authorities involved in the protection of the EU budget, and thanked them all for their incisive actions.
Ernesto Bianchi, Deputy Director-General of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), stressed the protection of EU’s financial interests is a joint mission pursued both by European institutions and national authorities. Fraud phenomena have become increasingly transnational and ‘specialised’ in attacking public resources, including the substantial financial funds provided by the EU to its Member States to accelerate economic recovery and strengthen resilience. This joint effort requires great cooperation and coordination between the different actors at EU and national level. In this context, he pointed out that Italy’s action provides a good example of how to counter fraudulent phenomena by resting on sound coordination, synchronism, and planning of the actions entrusted to the several actors involved.
Eventually, General Stefano Screpanti, Commander of the Guardia di Finanza Unit in charge of repressing frauds against the EU established at the Department for European Policies, outlined the technical contents of Italy’s AFCOS Report, further emphasising the decreased 'weight' of Italian frauds and irregularities against EU funding out of the total frauds and irregularities detected throughout Europe, progressively decreasing from 13.8% in 2017 to 6.3% in 2021. This drop proves the efficient and incisive quality of the national prevention and counteraction mechanism, in line with those Member States that boast longer experience in monitoring correct use of EU funds.
Read Italy's AFCOS Report 2021 [.pdf - 4.28 Mbytes]PNRR , EU Anti-fraud , Fight against fraud , Cohesion Policy , National Recovery and Resilience Plan