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Friday, September 16, 2005

European Court of Auditors Special Report concerning the Commission's Management of Economic Cooperation in Asia

Public Management, Co-op & Development,

News The Court examined the extent to which the Commission had set a strategy to lead to the most effective use of the aid relating to economic cooperation activities in Asia, and whether the Commission managed the implementation of this aid effectively.

Economic cooperation in Asia is implemented through bilateral projects between the Commission and individual beneficiary countries, regional programmes covering sub-regions, and "Asia-wide programmes" covering the whole of Asia, which involve partners in both the EU Member States and the Asia countries. Between 2000 and 2004 the Commission committed 509 million euro for economic cooperation. The Court found that the Commission's strategy lacked focus. Both the policy and the operational strategies were found to be very broad, resulting in a wide variety of projects covering many different areas , with sometimes over-ambitious objectives, and without appropriate indicators to monitor progress and assess effectiveness. Consequently, the overall impact of the aid has been difficult to measure, and there is a limited basis on which to assess its effectiveness and value for money. As regards the Commission's management of the implementation of economic cooperation expenditure, the Court found that the bilateral projects faced long delays both between the identification phase and the starting of the projects and also during their implementation. This reduced the projects' outputs and impacts and in some cases caused them to be abandoned. The level of monitoring was not always satisfactory and evaluations, when carried out, were not always done on a timely basis. The potential for sustainability for nearly half of the projects audited was in doubt. In its reply, the Commission considers economic cooperation as one of the intertwined components of its development assistance. It however recognises that the overall impact of assistance is difficult to measure and will endeavour to develop adequate indicators.

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