The European Court of Auditors warned on Wednesday that the proposed €6 billion Reform and Growth Facility for Western Balkan countries needs better protection.
A press release recalled that the Facility was set up by the European Commission last November to boost economic growth, increase socio-economic convergence with EU countries, and accelerate alignment with EU values and laws with a view to future EU accession.
“The EU auditors welcome the introduction of more stringent conditions for funding by linking payments to the fulfilment of conditions to be set in the Reform Agendas for the various countries,” it added.
The press release quoted European Court of Auditors member in charge of the opinion Laima Liucija Andrikiene as warning of a “a risk that the disbursement conditions are not ambitious enough and that indicators are not sufficiently clear and measurable … and that it is difficult to ensure that reforms will be sustainable, particularly in view of the region’s weak administrative capacity”.
The EU auditors also suggested developing relevant guidance to assess the fulfillment of payment conditions.
Support of up to €6 billion (€2 billion in non-repayable support and €4 billion in loans) is envisaged under the facility for the 2024-2027 period.
“In the absence of an impact assessment or an analytical document, the EU auditors were unable to assess the extent to which the intended €6 billion in support is likely to contribute to achieving the facility’s main objectives. The auditors suggest clarifying certain provisions of the proposal relating to the European Court of Auditors’ audit rights, and access to data and documentation in order to ensure proper oversight,” the press release said.
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