Accept Refuse

EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Document JOC_2001_270_E_0125_01

Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down a Community Action Programme promoting non-governmental organisations primarily active in the field of environmental protection (COM(2001) 337 final — 2001/0139(COD)) (Text with EEA relevance)

OJ C 270E , 25.9.2001, p. 125–130 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)

52001PC0337

Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down a Community Action Programme promoting non-governmental organisations primarily active in the field of environmental protection /* COM/2001/0337 final Volume II - COD 2001/0139 */

Official Journal 270 E , 25/09/2001 P. 0125 - 0130


Proposal for a DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL laying down a Community Action Programme promoting non-governmental organisations primarily active in the field of environmental protection

(presented by the Commission)

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

1. The challenge of a new Governance

In the Commission Communication Strategic objectives 2000-2005 "Shaping the new Europe", the Commission has set itself the task of promoting new forms of European Governance. This means, in short, giving people a greater say in the way Europe is run and the building of new forms of partnership between different levels of governance in Europe to make the institutions work more effectively and transparently. In the Communication, the Commission also acknowledges that "European citizens have little sense of ownership over the structures that govern their lives". In bridging this gap and in assisting the Community institutions to reach European citizens, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) could play an increasingly important role.

European environmental NGOs have already demonstrated through their membership structure and activities that they have the capacity and capability of taking on such a role - by, for example, pushing for more transparency and more citizens' involvement in the policy-making process. In general, European environmental NGOs are believed to have an impact in the following areas:

1. Citizen in the centre: One very important - and concrete way - of putting into practice the "public participation principle" in the work of the Community institutions is through the NGOs (representing part of "civil society"). Through their contacts with the public at large down to the very grassroots level, the NGOs are believed to know well the concerns and opinions of "the man in the street" and can thus promote these views and channel them back to the Commission.

2. Dialogue partners: European environmental NGOs participate in experts groups, in preparatory and implementation committees of the Community institutions, providing important input to Communities policies, programmes and initiatives.

3. Expertise/'knowhow': Many European environmental NGOs carry out advanced research work in their respective areas - leading up to important conclusions and reports, including proposals for solutions to environmental problems, which are shared (as part of their lobbying) with the Community institutions.

4. Balance: European environmental NGOs provide necessary balance in relation to the interests of other actors in the Environment (industry/business, trade unions, consumer groups, among others).

5. Representativity: Many European environmental NGOs are based on "grassroots membership" and are thus representative for a wide range of different views and interests in the Environment.

6. Multiplier effect: Many European environmental NGOs have extensive networks of member organisations and stand, by definition, closer to citizens. Implicitly, they assist in creating a much wider "audience" for Community environmental policy than the Commission could do.

7. Watchdog: European environmental NGOs also help to "police" the compliance with and implementation of EU legislation --- as well as to "police" the Community institutions, reminding them of their duties and commitments they have made.

An Action Programme promoting European environmental NGOs is already in place to financially support NGOs in fulfilling these tasks. The Programme, which is based on Council Decision 97/872/EC [1], runs from 1 January 1998 to 31 December 2001. The general objective of this Programme is to promote activities of NGOs (notably those, which cover the various roles described above), which are primarily active in the field of environmental protection at a European level by contributing to the development and implementation of Community environmental policy and legislation.

[1] OJ L 354, 30.12.1997, p. 25.

2. Shortcomings in the implementation of Council Decision 97/872/EC

According to Article 12 of Council Decision 97/872/EC, the Commission should evaluate the implementation of this Programme covering the first three years and report its findings to the European Parliament and the Council. On the basis of this Report, it should be decided whether or not the Programme should be continued. The Commission has produced such a Report [2] on the basis of a consultation process with both present and previous beneficiaries of the Programme and the co-ordinating Directorate-General (the Environment DG), also taking into account the results of the external evaluation of budget line B4-3060 [3], under which the Programme is financed.

[2] Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the experience gained in the application of Council Decision 97/872/EC of 16 December 1997, on the Action Programme promoting European non-governmental organisations primarily active in the field of environmental protection, COM (2001) 337 final.

[3] In 1995, on the initiative of Commissioners Anita Gradin (Financial Control and Fraud Prevention) and Erkki Liikanen (Budget and Administration), the Commission launched a comprehensive initiative called SEM 2000 (Sound and Efficient Management) to change the Institution's financial and administrative culture. SEM 2000 applies to all Commission services. The evaluation of B4-3060 forms part of the Environment DG's programme within the framework of this initiative.

Both the results of the NGO/Commission consultation process and the external evaluation of B4-3060 reveal an overwhelming support for renewing/revising the present Action Programme. But a number of weak areas have also been identified.

Concern has been raised about the geographical balance of the organisations selected for funding under this instrument, pointing to the fact that the majority of the beneficiaries in 1998-2000 have been located in Western Europe. A more regional balanced distribution of funds has been requested in order to secure the implementation of Communities policies in all regions within the EU. Such a balance should also be struck between the promotion of small and large NGOs, 'generalists' and 'specialists' (some NGOs focus only on one - or on a fewer number - of policy area(s)), etc.

Both the NGOs and the Commission have pointed out the cumbersome checking process involved at all stages of the implementation of the Programme - including the selection, monitoring and reporting procedures - as one of the major weaknesses of the present Programme. The Programme has proven to be very human resources (HR) intensive for both the Commission and the beneficiaries.

The cumbersome checking process has also led to late payments to NGOs, which have sometimes given rise to severe cash flow problems for some beneficiaries, who have been forced to take bank loans while waiting for the expected instalments from the Commission.

The late payments are partly due to the late timing of the Call for Proposals and a late Commission decision (31 May) of what organisations to finance (Article 7 of the Council Decision).

The present instrument has also revealed some weaknesses with regards to the financial management of the Programme. Beneficiaries have, to a certain extent, been allowed to transfer parts of their budgets to partners, who have carried out activities and projects on behalf of the beneficiary. Although the Commission has certainly encouraged co-operation between different actors under this Programme - and will continue to do so - this co-operation should be regulated by contracts, invoices and booking of actual costs in the accounts of the beneficiary and the partner for increased transparency and accountability of reporting.

The selection criteria under the Action Programme have also given rise to many questions - both within the Commission and among the NGOs. What does a "lasting multiplier effect at a European level" mean, or "a contribution to a multinational approach" - and how do you measure it- The lack of a solid indicator system has created somewhat subjective selection, monitoring and reporting procedures, which has complicated the work of the Commission's evaluation team and made it difficult for potential applicants to estimate their chances.

It has furthermore been suggested that the present situation, where more than 80% of the beneficiaries are the same year after year (in 2000, the beneficiary list contained 18 organisations, only three of them were newcomers), should be corrected or justified.

The evaluation of the Programme has also revealed a need for a fixed auditing scheme - especially if a simplified funding system is introduced (in order to alleviate the administrative and HR burden placed on both the NGOs and the Commission under the present structure) to ensure the proper use of Commission funding.

3. Main characteristics of the Proposal for a Decision

The framework for co-operation and continuous funding for environmental NGOs to facilitate their participation in the dialogue process are provided for in the Proposal for a Sixth Environment Action Programme (6EAP) [4]. The strategic approach adopted in the 6EAP recognises the need for empowering citizens and the measures proposed include extensive and wide-ranging dialogue with stakeholders in environmental policy-making. The Programme also foresees co-operation with environmental NGOs in the Candidate Countries in order to raise awareness.

[4] Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the sixth environment action programme of the European Community, 'Environment 2010: Our future, Our choice', COM (2001) 31 final.

For successful participation in consultation meetings and public hearings, the Commission recognises the need for NGOs to have adequate professional background. A number of environmental NGOs already have such professional background, but in order to reinforce the overall capacity of the European environmental NGO community, the Commission should be able to provide grants under a new Action Programme promoting European environmental NGOs.

Given the important roles that the NGOs have been deemed to play, not only in light of a new European governance, but in the integration process (the integration of environmental protection and sustainable development into all policy areas of the EU) and the enlargement exercise, a Proposal for a new Decision should reflect this new scenario.

Thus, the present geographical scope of the Action Programme would have to be reconsidered in light of the Enlargement process and the changes in Europe as a whole (for example, in the Balkans). In many Central and East European countries, the environmental movement played an important role during the changes in 1989-1990. In fact, the pivotal role of 'civil society' as such has already been recognised in the democratisation process, and the importance of environmental Candidate Countries' NGOs in gaining public acceptance for the environmental 'aquis' and its implementation could hardly be overestimated. The changes in the Balkans - although very positive - have revealed a tremendous need for direct support towards citizens' organisations and initiatives in order to support democracy and the building of an environmentally sustainable future.

A proposal for a revised Programme would have to address this change of scenario, the weaknesses identified in the NGO/Commission consultation, which took place in the autumn of 2000, and the results of the evaluation of budget line B4-3060. The main features of such a Programme should encompass:

- A provision to promote the systematic involvement of European environmental NGOs in the Community environmental policy-making and implementation process, by ensuring relevant representation in stakeholder consultation meetings and public hearings.

- An expanded Programme period from 4 to 5 years (in order to ensure continuity, alignment with the current budget and other major political agreements already made within the EU).

- An earlier Call for Proposals and an earlier Commission decision in order to align the exercise with the calendar year.

- An expanded geographical scope in light of the Enlargement process and the Stabilisation and Association process for countries of South Eastern Europe [5].

[5] COM (1999) 235 final.

- A simplified selection, monitoring and evaluation system based on result/impact-oriented indicators in order to adhere to HR constraints, sound financial management requirements and the need for less subjective procedures.

- The introduction of selection criteria (result/impact-oriented), which can be easily understood and measured and which duly take into account the need for a better balance between different geographical areas, small and big NGOs, specialists and generalists, etc.

- The introduction of a funding scheme, which refers to the audited expenses of the beneficiaries in order to increase transparency and accountability of reporting.

- The introduction of a fixed auditing scheme in order to ensure the sound management of taxpayers money.

A new Action Programme promoting European Environmental NGOs should be in place from 1 January 2002 (or at the earliest date possible after its adoption) with an interim evaluation scheduled for 31 December 2004. The budget envisaged for this five-year period is 32 Million EURO. A solid selection, monitoring and reporting system will be in place with fixed, easy-to-apply indicators. Anti-fraud mechanisms are also included.

As the method envisaged for calculating grants under the new Programme will differ from classical core-funding, the guiding principles are accounted for in the Annex to this Proposal.

Due to the numerous amendments proposed to Council Decision 97/872/EC, it has been considered appropriate, in the interest of increased transparency, to replace it rather than to amend it. This way of proceeding will provide interested parties, and in particular the public in general, with a single clear and coherent legislative act, instead of submitting isolated changes to the existing Decision.

2001/0139 (COD)

Proposal for a DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL laying down a Community Action Programme promoting non-governmental organisations primarily active in the field of environmental protection

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 175(1) thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission [6],

[6] OJ C , , p. .

Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee [7],

[7] OJ C , , p. .

Having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions [8],

[8] OJ C , , p. .

Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty [9],

[9] OJ C , , p. .

Whereas:

(1) The Treaty provides for the development and the implementation of a Community environment policy and sets out the objectives and principles, which guide that policy.

(2) [The Proposal for a Sixth Environment Action Programme] [10] recognises the need for empowering citizens and the measures proposed include extensive and wide-ranging dialogue with stakeholders in environmental policy-making. In order to enable their participation in such a dialogue the [Proposal for a Sixth Environment Action Programme] makes provisions for continuous funding to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

[10] COM (2001) 31 final.

(3) The Action Programme introduced by Council Decision 97/872/EC of 16 December 1997 on a Community Action Programme promoting non-governmental organisations primarily active in the field of environmental protection [11] comes to an end on 31 December 2001. That Decision should therefore be repealed. The Programme has been evaluated by the Commission and present and previous beneficiaries, revealing a strong support for its renewal/revision.

[11] OJ L 354, 30.12.1997, p. 25.

(4) NGOs active in the field of environmental protection have already demonstrated that they can contribute to the environment policy of the Community, as laid down in Article 174 of the Treaty, by active involvement in concrete environmental protection measures and in activities to increase the general awareness of the need for the protection of the environment.

(5) NGOs are essential to co-ordinate and channel to the Commission information and views on the new and emerging perspectives, such as on nature protection and transboundary environmental problems, which cannot be, or are not being, fully dealt with at the Member State or subordinate level. Through their contacts with the public at large down to the very grassroots level, NGOs are believed to know well the concerns and opinions of "the man in the street" and can thus promote these views and channel them back to the Commission.

(6) Environmental NGOs participate in experts groups, in preparatory and implementation committees of the Community institutions, providing important input to Community policies, programmes and initiatives and necessary balance in relation to the interests of other actors in the environment, including industry/business, trade unions and consumer groups.

(7) NGOs with a capacity to stimulate exchange of perspectives, problems and possible solutions related to environmental problems with a Community dimension, involving stakeholders at national, regional and local level, should be promoted. For this purpose only NGOs active at a European level will be targeted. Their structure and activities should cover at least three European countries.

(8) The geographical expansion of the Programme is necessary in order to include Candidate Countries' NGOs in light of their importance in gaining public acceptance for the environmental 'aquis' and strengthening its implementation and for furthering the democratisation process. The changes in the Balkans have also revealed a tremendous need for direct support towards citizens' organisations and initiatives in order to support democracy and the building of an environmentally sustainable future.

(9) In light of the experience gained in the first three years of implementation of this Decision, an assessment of the operation of the Programme should be undertaken in order to decide on its continuation.

(10) This Decision establishes a financial framework for the entire duration of the Programme which is to be the principal point of reference for the budgetary authority, within the meaning of point 33 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and improvement of the budgetary procedure [12].

[12] OJ C 172, 18.6.1999, p. 1.

HAVE DECIDED AS FOLLOWS:

Article 1

1. A Community Action Programme promoting environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is hereby established.

2. The general objective of this Programme shall be to promote NGOs, which are primarily active in the field of environmental protection at a European level and which contribute, or have the ability to contribute, to the development and implementation of Community environmental policy and legislation in all regions of Europe. The Programme shall also promote the systematic involvement of NGOs at all stages of the Community environmental policy-making process, by ensuring relevant representation in stakeholder consultation meetings and public hearings.

Article 2

In order to qualify for a grant, an NGO shall have the following characteristics:

a) it must be an independent and non-profit-making legal person primarily active in the field of environmental protection, with an environmental objective aimed at the public good;

b) it must be active at a European level, with a structure (membership base) and activities covering at least three European countries;

c) its activities must meet the principles underlying [the proposal for a Sixth Environment Action Programme] and be in line with the priority areas identified in part 1 of the Annex to this Decision;

d) it must have been legally constituted for more than two years and have had its annual statement of accounts for the two preceding years certified by a registered auditor.

Article 3

The Programme shall be open to the participation of NGOs established in either:

a) the Member States;

b) the Associated Countries [13] in accordance with the conditions established in the Europe Agreements, in their additional protocols and in the decisions of the respective Association Councils;

[13] Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia.

c) Cyprus, Malta and Turkey in accordance with conditions and procedures to be agreed with those countries;

d) the Balkan countries forming part of the Stabilisation and Association process for countries of South Eastern Europe [14] in accordance with conditions and procedures to be agreed with those countries.

[14] Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia.

Article 4

1. The Commission shall publish a Call for Proposals in the Official Journal of the Communities by 30 September each year at the latest, for grants in the following calendar year.

2. The Call for Proposals shall set out the eligibility, selection and award criteria and the application, assessment and approval procedure.

3. After assessing the proposals, the Commission shall decide which organisations are to receive financing in the following year, by 31 December each year, save for a delay in the adoption of the Community budget. The decision shall give rise to an agreement between the Commission and the beneficiary, fixing the maximum amount of the grant, the modalities of payment, the control and monitoring measures and the objectives to be achieved by the grant.

Article 5

The selection and award process shall be carried out in four steps:

a) elimination of applications, which do not comply with the technical/administrative requirements for submitting a request for funding under this Programme. In particular, incomplete or insufficiently detailed applications, or applications which have not been filled in according to the instructions given on the application form or which have been submitted after the publicised deadline, shall be ineligible under this Programme;

b) elimination of applications, which do not comply with the eligibility criteria as outlined in Articles 2 and 3;

c) comparative assessment of the remaining eligible applications evaluated against the following criteria, which are further specified in point 2 of the Annex:

(i) extent to which the application and more specifically the proposed work programme meets the objectives of the Programme as described in Article 1;

(ii) management and product quality;

(iii) outreach, effectiveness and efficiency.

Comparative score values will be assigned to each retained applicant.

d) fixing the set of applications, which will enter into the award procedure by retaining only those who have received score values above thresholds defined by the Commission.

Article 6

1. A grant shall not exceed 70% of the applicant's average audited annual eligible expenses during the preceding two years, in the case of NGOs based in the Community, or 80% in the case of NGOs based in the Candidate Countries and the Balkans, nor 80% of the applicant's eligible expenses for the current year.

The amount shall be determined annually according to a fixed weighting system, which takes into account the score values resulting from the assessment described in Article 5 and the relative size of the NGOs as outlined in part 3 of the Annex.

2. A beneficiary under this Programme shall be free to use the grant to cover eligible expenses of the organisation, as it deems appropriate, over the grant year. All expenses incurred by the beneficiary during the grant year shall be considered eligible, except for those specified in point 4 of the Annex.

3. The amount of the grant shall not become final until after the audited financial statement has been accepted by the Commission.

The final payment shall be reduced accordingly if the total of Community grants exceeds 80% of the audited eligible expenses of the beneficiary for the year.

4. Moreover, if the audited financial statement of the grant year shows that the total revenues of the beneficiary, save revenues regularly earmarked for ineligible expenses, exceed the eligible expenses, the final payment shall be reduced or, if necessary, the excess amount shall be recovered accordingly. Pursuant to Article 256 of the Treaty, recovery orders shall be enforceable.

5. In order to ensure the effectiveness of the grants to environmental NGOs, the Commission shall take the necessary measures to verify that a selected organisation still satisfies the requirements for being awarded the grant throughout the grant year. Notably, a systematic reporting scheme in order to monitor the beneficiaries' performance during the grant year, as well as an ex-post performance evaluation, shall be put in place.

Article 7

1. This Programme shall start on 1 January 2002 and shall end on 31 December 2006.

2. The financial reference amount for the implementation of this Programme for the period 2002 to 2006 shall be EUR 32 Million.

3. The annual appropriations shall be authorised by the budgetary authority within the limits of the financial perspective.

Article 8

1. In order to protect the European Communities' financial interests against fraud and other irregularities, the Commission may carry out on-the-spot checks and inspections under this Programme in accordance with Council Regulation (EURATOM, EC) No 2185/96 of 11 November 1996. In addition, investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) are governed by Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

2. The beneficiary of a grant shall keep available for the Commission all the supporting documents, including the audited financial statement, regarding expenditure incurred during the grant year for a period of five years following the last payment.

Article 9

1. Failure to meet expected results, as evidenced by obligatory reports, may lead to ineligibility for funding under this Programme in the following year.

2. If an NGO becomes the subject of a recovery order due to intentional irregularities, irregularities caused by negligence or fraud, it will automatically be excluded from funding under the remaining years of the Programme.

3. If the Commission discovers irregularities, mismanagement or fraud in relation to a grant, either by audits or on-the-spot checks, the beneficiary will be subject to one or several of the following administrative measures and penalties in proportion to the severity of the case:

- annulment of the grant agreement;

- payment of a fine of up to 50% of the amount of the recovery order;

- exclusion from other Community funding opportunities;

- exclusion from the relevant dialogue mechanisms of the Commission.

Article 10

A list of the beneficiaries to be financed under this Programme, together with the amount allocated, shall be published each year in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

Article 11

By 31 December 2004 at the latest, the Commission shall submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the achievement of the objectives of this Programme during the first three years and shall, if appropriate, make proposals for any adjustment to be made with a view to continuing or not continuing the Programme. This Report shall be based on the reports concerning beneficiaries' performance and assess, in particular, their effectiveness in contributing to the objectives stated in Article 1 and the Annex.

The European Parliament and the Council, in accordance with the Treaty, shall decide on the continuation of the Programme as from 1 January 2007. Before putting forward proposals to this end, the Commission shall conduct an external evaluation of the results achieved by the Programme.

Article 12

This Decision shall enter into force on the day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

Done at Brussels,

For the European Parliament For the Council

The President The President

ANNEX

1. Priority areas identified in the Proposal for a Sixth Environment Action Programme

Given the importance for sustainable development and for the health and quality of life of European citizens, the proposed Programme targets selected priority issues that have been grouped under four main headings

- Limiting climate change

- Nature and bio-diversity - protecting a unique resource

- Health and environment

- Ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources and wastes

If adopted, the [Sixth Environment Action Programme] will be subject to a review in 2005 and revised and updated, as necessary, to take account of new developments and information.

In addition to the above-mentioned areas, implementation and enforcement of Community environmental legislation shall also be priority.

2. Characteristics against which applicants will be assessed

Applicants having successfully passed the first two selection steps accounted for in Article 5 shall be measured against the following criteria.

- Extent to which the application meets the objectives of the Programme. Characteristics of the applicant, including his proposed work programme, which will be evaluated, shall include:

- Political relevance (in relation to the Proposal for a Sixth Environment Action Programme, a new European Governance, Sustainable Development, Enlargement, the Stabilisation and Association process for countries of South Eastern Europe, the development of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, Integration, Gender Mainstreaming).

- Relevance and size/potential impact of involvement in Community environmental policy shaping and implementation.

- Representativity as to voicing the public's concerns in all regions of Europe and as to feeding in these ideas and proposals for the solution of environmental problems.

- Relevance in environment awareness raising and knowledge enhancement activities both in general and in relation to Community environmental policies.

For each of the above characteristics, consideration shall be given to the strength of the applicant with regards to fulfilling the associated NGO roles indicated in points 5-7 of the preamble.

- Management and product quality. Characteristics to be assessed include:

- Organisational structure, adequacy in staffing and management of human resources.

- Internal decision-making process, relationship with members.

- Strategic approach, goal orientation, planning practices.

- Administration, budget control and financial management.

- Reporting practices (internal and external).

- Self-assessment and quality control, feedback of experience (learning).

- Technical/scientific competence

- Outreach, effectiveness, efficiency. Characteristics to be assessed include:

- General visibility of the organisation and its activities

- External relations (with other actors in the field of the Environment, such as local and regional authorities, business and industry, consumer groups, trade unions, other non-governmental organisations, etc).

- Appreciation as tracked in the public domain (including the media).

3. Determination of Grants

The grant is calculated on the applicant's forecasted total eligible expenses for the grant year, taking explicitly into account his average audited expenses over the preceding two years, according to the following principles:

(1) When all other parameters are equal, larger NGOs (as measured by the average of their preceding two years' audited annual expenses and the forecasted total eligible expenses for the grant year) will receive higher amounts than smaller ones. However, the larger the NGO, the relatively smaller this size advantage will be;

(2) When all other parameters are equal, NGOs getting higher comparative assessment scores will receive larger amounts than lower scoring applicants;

(3) When an NGO has requested a specified amount, under no circumstances shall the grant awarded exceed that amount.

4. Ineligible expenses

Payments made by the beneficiary and contracts awarded to third parties, which comprise of elements of the categories below:

- Criminal / illegal activities

- Private costs/use

- Entertainment, hospitality, unnecessary or ill considered expenses

- Expenses clearly outside the agreed work programme of the beneficiary for the grant year

- Debt reimbursements, interests owed, carried over deficits

- Costs related to the capital employed, investments [15] or reserves set aside to strengthen the assets of the beneficiary

[15] Only the proportion of depreciation of the item corresponding to the duration of the agreement may be taken into account by the Commission.

- Contributions in kind

FINANCIAL STATEMENT

Policy area(s): Environment

Activity(ies): Environmental Programmes

Title of action: "Proposal for a European Parliament and Council decision laying down a Community action programme promoting non-governmental organisations primarily active in the field of environmental protection."

1. BUDGET LINE(S) + HEADING(S)

B4-3060 and B7-811

2. OVERALL FIGURES

2.1. Total allocation for action (Part B): 32 EUR million for commitment

2.2. Period of application:

2002 - 2006

2.3. Overall multiannual estimate on expenditure:

a) Schedule of commitment appropriations/payment appropriations (financial intervention) (see point 6.1.1)

EUR million (to 3rd decimal place)

>TABLE POSITION>

b) Overall financial impact of human resources and other administrative expenditure (see points 7.2 and 7.3)

>TABLE POSITION>

>TABLE POSITION>

2.4. Compatibility with the financial programming and the financial perspective

Proposal compatible with the existing financial programming

2.5. Financial impact on revenue [16]:

[16] For further information see a separate guidance paper

No financial implications (involves technical aspects regarding implementation of a measure)

3. BUDGET CHARACTERISTICS

>TABLE POSITION>

4. LEGAL BASIS

Article 175(1) of the Treaty establishing the European Community

5. DESCRIPTION AND GROUNDS

5.1. Need for Community intervention [17]

[17] For further information see a separate guidance paper

5.1.1. Objectives pursued

The general objective of this Programme is to promote NGOs, which are primarily active in the field of environmental protection at a European level and which contribute - or have the ability - to contribute to the development and implementation of Community environmental policy and legislation, and which have an established or potential ability to represent and involve citizens in this process thereby increasing democracy, transparency and the sense of ownership of Community environmental policy and legislation.

5.1.2. Measures taken in connection with ex ante evaluation

An evaluation of the preceding Programme with a view to its possible renewal was carried out in 2000 by PLANISTAT S.A., which included a logical framework analysis for exploring possible avenues for a new Programme rationale. The analysis showed a need for simplification of procedures while focussing on the main objectives of the Programme.

5.1.3. Measures taken following ex post evaluation

The PLANISTAT evaluation confirmed the need for the Programme renewal.

5.2. Actions envisaged and arrangements for budget intervention

5.2.1. Target population

About 50 European environmental NGOs

5.2.2. Specific objectives set for the programming period:

1. To promote the systematic involvement of European environmental NGOs at all stages of the Community environmental policy-making process in order to take due account of citizens' concerns and views of environmental problems and their proposals for solutions.

2. To this end, the Commission shall ensure relevant representation of the European environmental NGO community in stakeholder consultation meetings and public hearings.

3. For successful participation in consultation meetings and public hearings, the Commission recognises the need for NGOs to have adequate professional background. A number of environmental NGOs already have such professional background, but in order to reinforce the overall capacity of the European environmental NGO community, the Commission may provide grants.

5.2.3. Measures to be taken to implement the action:

There will be an annual call for proposals.

5.2.4. The output of the action will contribute to:

Voicing citizens' concerns, representation in stakeholder consultation meetings and public hearings.

5.2.5. Expected outcomes in terms of solving needs and problems:

Reinforcing the overall capacity of the European environmental NGO community.

5.2.6. Budget intervention:

A grant shall be calculated on the applicant's forecasted total eligible expenses for the grant year, taking explicitly into account his average audited expenses over the preceding two years, and shall be given annually. The amount shall be determined according to a fixed weighting system developed by the Commission, which takes into account the results of the evaluation described in Article 5. In the case that an organisation requests a fixed amount, the grant shall never exceed that amount.

5.3. Methods of implementation

Direct management

6. FINANCIAL IMPACT

6.1. Total financial impact on Part B (over the entire programming period)

6.1.1. Financial intervention

Commitments in EUR million (to the 3rd decimal place)

>TABLE POSITION>

6.2. Calculation of costs by measure envisaged in Part B (over the entire programming period) [18]

[18] For further information see a separate guidance paper

It is assumed that on average the annual grants for NGOs from member states would be around 200.000 EUR starting with about 20 beneficiaries the first year and ending with 30 the last year. NGOs from Candidate Countries may start with average grants of 100.000 EUR for 9 beneficiaries and ending with 10 to 20 beneficiaries the last year.

Commitments in EUR million (to the 3rd decimal place)

>TABLE POSITION>

7. IMPACT ON STAFF AND ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENDITURE

7.1. Impact on human resources

>TABLE POSITION>

7.2. Overall financial impact of human resources

>TABLE POSITION>

The amounts are total expenditure for twelve months.

7.3. Other administrative expenditure deriving from the action

>TABLE POSITION>

The amounts are total expenditure for twelve months.

I. Annual total (7.2 + 7.3)

II. Duration of action

III. Total cost of action (I x II) // 355 000

1 775 000

8. FOLLOW-UP AND EVALUATION

8.1. Follow-up arrangements

In order to ensure the effectiveness of grants to environmental NGOs, the Commission shall take the necessary measures to:

- Verify that a selected organisation still satisfies the requirements for being awarded the grant during the grant year.

- Monitor performance by introducing reports, due twice a year, based on approved indicators proposed by the beneficiary, who shall perform a self-assessment against each of these. The first report shall be submitted at the end of June, covering the first five months of the grant period (January through May). The second report shall be submitted at the end of January N+1, covering the period of June through December.

- The Commission shall draw upon independent external expertise to support the tasks of performance monitoring and assessment, notably by the provision of a systematic programme for verifying NGO self-assessments and associated evidence material.

8.2. Arrangements and schedule for the planned evaluation

To support the preparation of the report to be submitted to the European Council and the Parliament by 31 December 2004, the Commission shall analyse the monitoring reports concerning beneficiaries' performance, and on this basis prepare a synthesis on the results achieved.

An external interim evaluation with a view to a possible renewal shall be conducted in 2005 at the latest, so that the findings will be available for the preparation of any proposals concerning the future of the Programme.

9. ANTI-FRAUD MEASURES

The Commission shall ensure the coherence, consistency and complementarity between grants under this Programme and other grants given by the European Union institutions. The Commission may under no circumstances pay for the same activity twice and shall secure a mechanism by which this could be guaranteed.

In order to prevent and, if necessary, take actions against irregularities, mismanagement or fraud in relation to subsidies granted under this Programme, the Commission shall carry out internal audits of 20% of all successful beneficiaries every year. This would guarantee that most NGOs, which are re-selected for funding, would be audited - or run the risk of being audited - at some point during the Programme period (2002-2006).

In order to protect the European Communities' financial interests against fraud and other irregularities, the Commission may also carry out on-the-spot checks and inspections under this Programme in accordance with Council Regulation (EURATOM, EC) No 2185/96 of 11 November 1996. In addition, investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) are governed by Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

Failure to meet expected results, as evidenced by obligatory reports, may lead to ineligibility for funding under this Programme in the following year.

If the Commission discovers irregularities, mismanagement or fraud in relation to a grant, either by audits or on-the-spot checks, the beneficiary will be subject to one or several of the following administrative measures and penalties in proportion to the severity of the case:

- annulment of the grant agreement;

- payment of a fine of up to 50% of the amount of the recovery order;

- exclusion from this Programme and other Community funding opportunities;

- exclusion from the relevant dialogue mechanisms of the Commission.

If an NGO becomes the subject of a recovery order due to intentional irregularities, irregularities caused by negligence or fraud, it will automatically be excluded from funding under the remaining years of the Programme.

If the reports (accounted for in point 8.1. above) show a declining trend in the organisation's performance in relation to the criteria on which it has been selected (outlined in Article 5 and point 2 of the Annex), the Commission may reduce the grant for the following year - given that the organisation re-applies.

Such a reduction will follow logically during the comparative assessment phase of the following year, as the reporting results shall form an integral part of this procedure. Low or declining performance established by the reports will render a lower appreciation score by the experts during the next comparative assessment phase (if the organisation re-applies).

Top