On-the-spot checks and inspections on the premises of EU funding recipients
Regulation (Euratom, EC) No 2185/96 – checks and inspections carried out by the European Commission to protect the EU’s financial interests against fraud and other irregularities
WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE REGULATION?
It sets out the rules and procedures for on-the-spot checks and inspections carried out by the European Commission in order to counter fraud and other irregularities, in particular where it is suspected that irregularities* have been committed by economic operators* receiving financial support from the EU budget.
The regulation applies to all areas of the EU’s activities. It does not affect the EU countries’ powers to prosecute criminal infringements under national law.
Carrying out on-the-spot checks and inspections
The Commission carries out on-the-spot checks and inspections on the premises of economic operators:
to investigate possible serious or cross-border irregularities or irregularities involving economic operators acting in several EU countries;
to reinforce on-the-spot checks and inspections in an EU country in order to protect the EU’s financial interests more effectively and ensure an equivalent level of protection within the EU;
at the request of an EU country.
Prior to such checks and inspections, the Commission must inform the EU country(ies) concerned in good time in order to obtain all the assistance required.
These checks and inspections are prepared and carried out by the Commission in close cooperation with the competent authorities of the EU country concerned.
They are carried out under the authority and responsibility of Commission inspectors, i.e. duly authorised civil servants or other staff, who must comply with the rules of procedure of the EU country concerned.
The economic operators must allow the inspectors access to their premises, land, means of transport or other areas, used for business purposes.
If an economic operator resists an on-the-spot check or inspection, the EU country concerned will provide assistance to inspectors so that they can carry out their duty.
The Commission takes into account inspections that are being or have been carried out by the EU country concerned under national law.
Access to information and documentation under national law
Commission inspectors must be granted access, under the same conditions as national administrative inspectors and in compliance with national law, to all the information required to ensure that the checks and inspections are properly conducted.
The inspectors may use the same inspection facilities as national administrative inspectors and in particular copy relevant documents.
On-the-spot checks and inspections may concern, in particular:
business books and documents such as invoices, lists of terms and conditions, payslips, statements of materials used and work done, and bank statements,
production, packaging and dispatching systems and methods;
physical checks as to the nature and quantity of goods or completed operations;
the taking and checking of samples;
the progress of works and investments for which financing has been provided, and the use made of completed investments;
budgetary and accounting documents;
the financial and technical implementation of subsidised projects.
EU countries may be required, at the Commission’s request, to take appropriate precautionary measures under national law, in particular in order to safeguard evidence.
Information acquired in relation to the on-the-spot checks and inspections is covered by professional secrecy and by EU rules on data protection.
The Commission inspectors’ reports constitute admissible evidence in administrative or judicial proceedings of the EU country in which their use proves necessary.
FROM WHEN DOES THE REGULATION APPLY?
It has applied since 1 January 1997.
For more information, see:
Irregularities: Any infringement of EU law resulting from an act or omission by an economic operator, which has, or would have, the effect of prejudicing the general EU budget.
Economic operators: An individual, a business or other body that is economically active and has legal status under national law.
Council Regulation (Euratom, EC) No 2185/96 of 11 November 1996 concerning on-the-spot checks and inspections carried out by the Commission in order to protect the European Communities’ financial interests against fraud and other irregularities (OJ L 292, 15.11.1996, pp. 2-5)
Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities financial interests (OJ L 312, 23.12.1995, pp. 1-4)
last update 20.10.2017