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ECA found weaknesses in targeting JASPERS in Romania and three other European countries

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) found weaknesses in the definition of JASPERS’ main objectives and roles and responsibilities in Romania, along with Croatia, Malta and Poland, a press release informs, quoting ECA latest report. The audit covered the period from 2006 until the end of 2016.

This resulted in shortcomings in its operations and put accountability at risk. 

“JASPERS did not target its assistance sufficiently, which led to a high number of cancelled and suspended assignments”, said Oskar Herics, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “While it was conceived for the 2007 to 2013 period and then extended, it has no clear measurable objectives to show that its purpose has been achieved.”

At the start of the 2014-2020 period, JASPERS also began to support delayed major projects, which needed to be carried over from the previous programme period, and encouraged Member States to make increasing use of free-of-charge assistance during project implementation, even though neither was a priority.

”There were significant weaknesses in the setting-up of the new independent quality review function for 20142020. The fact that the same person was responsible for signing off both the quality reviews and the advisory work detracted from the independence of JASPERS’ quality reviews, say the auditors, who noted a high risk of a lack of impartiality in relation to JASPERS’ advisory function,” the report reads.

According to the auditors, JASPERS’ impact on administrative capacity did not result in higher degrees of independence from assistance. National authorities and project beneficiaries both stated that JASPERS had a positive impact on their administrative capacity, but the auditors found no evidence to confirm whether this improvement had actually materialised. 

The observed weaknesses, combined with significant shortcomings in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of JASPERS activities, put at risk the successful operation of the initiative, particularly in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

The auditors recommend that the Commission take more control over the strategic planning of JASPERS, allowing it to be phased out when its main objectives have been met; obtain full access to verify the quality of JASPERS’ independent review procedures; ensure JASPERS’ costs are reasonable and reflect the actual costs incurred.

JASPERS is jointly financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Commission (through the EU budget) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The actual cost of JASPERS, between commencing operations in 2006 and the end of 2016, was about EUR 284 million. Around 79 percent was funded from the EU budget, the remainder being provided by the other partners in the form of staff assigned to JASPERS.

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