Within the legal requirements set out by Regulation (EC) n°1260/99, CSF 2000-2006 has strengthened the progress already accomplished in CSF 1994-1999, in order to improve the efficiency and transparency of action implementing bodies and ensure a sound financial management at every level of government.
During the period 1994-99, a series of reforms were introduced in public fund management in the areas of public works, the accreditation for training and education, and more effective technical support for the modernisation of public administration. For CSF 2000-2006, new Operational Programme Managing Authorities were created. Compared to CSF 94-99, the new implementing system has incorporated more detailed and systematic procedures. Problems and difficulties were initially encountered in the adaptation to the new implementation and monitoring system. Significant progress has however been achieved especially regarding project selection and approval procedures and the streamlining of the procedures for monitoring and control.
At CSF level, a managing authority was established within the Ministry of Economy which is the general co-ordinator of all Structural Fund interventions. Managing authorities were also designated for all Operational Programmes. The Management Organisation Unit (MOU) and other entities support the managing authorities in their tasks
Compatibility with Community policies
Compliance of the Structural Fund interventions with Community Law is a condition for granting the payments. The CSF managing authority systematically informs the OP managing authorities on the state of implementation of EC Directives into national law. It supports them in order to ensure compliance with the EC Law requirements.
Special attention is given to compliance with:
1) the EC public procurement legislation;
2) the EC environmental legislation;
3) the EC State aid legislation;
4) equal treatment between men and women; and
5) the rural development policy.
The authority for project selection lies with the respective OP managing authority. The previous funding period established the principle that only technically mature projects may be funded. In this period, a procedure for evaluating economic and social viability was introduced for both public and private sector projects. A system of open calls for project proposals was developed enabling a more effective choice to be made between alternative proposals. The capacity, especially at the regional level, to ensure professionally sound assessments of projects was strengthened, and rules governing the selection of projects was clarified.
Expenditure due to cost or time overruns is ineligible, unless the projects are resubmitted to a second approval procedure and adopted with the new planning proposed.
CSF/OP implementation is the responsibility of the respective managing authorities under the surveillance and the control of the CSF/OP monitoring committees.
The CSF monitoring committee is chaired by the Minister of Economy. Its members are the chairmen of the OP monitoring committees, the representatives of the CSF managing authority, the paying authority, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, public authorities and bodies involved in the CSF implementation (regional, environment, equal opportunities authorities), representatives of social partners, the European Commission and the EIB. Highly qualified persons may be invited to participate as well on an ad hoc basis. NGO's are regularly informed and consulted.
The OP monitoring committees are chaired by the Secretary General of a Ministry or of a Region. They include representatives of the OP managing authority, the paying authority, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, representatives of public authorities or bodies involved in the OP implementation (environment, equal opportunities), the social partners, the European Commission and the EIB. Where appropriate, NGO's are represented as well.
A single paying authority for all Structural Funds and for the Cohesion Fund is set up in the Ministry of Economy, with a clear separation of tasks from those of the CSF Managing Authority. This authority is responsible for monitoring the financial flows, for drawing up payment applications and for receiving payments from the European Commission. It also ensures payments to the final beneficiaries in the least amount of time and in full. It is subject to external controls and, in case of irregularities, subject to financial corrections. Financial corrections can take place only after a hearing of the interested parties and in compliance with the principle of proportionality. In addition, they are subject to administrative and judicial appeal.
The paying authority is the single entity authorised to access accounts kept in the Bank of Greece (one account for each Structural Fund, one for each Community Initiative and one for the Cohesion Fund). Commitments and payment provisions are registered in the Public Investment Programme. This budget contains data enabling the identification of the operation, the final beneficiary and the financial assistance. Payment information is controlled and registered in the CSF Management Information System by the each respective OP managing authority. The paying authority checks and verifies this information before submission of payment applications to the European Commission.
Control aims to ensure efficient and financially correct implementation of the structural Fund assistance. It is organised in three levels: a) Internal (first level) control lies with the OP and CSF managing authorities. It concerns the material, financial and accounting aspects of the project. It takes place "in situ" and, when appropriate, in the headquarters of the entities keeping original documents related to the project in question. b) External (second level) control, carried out by the paying authority, consists of the audit and assessment of the first level controls. When required, individual decisions of managing authorities and final beneficiaries can be checked as well. c) Co-ordination and assessment of the whole system of control (third level control), carried out by a special unit of the Ministry of Economy, comprises of specific inspections and control of a sample of 5% of projects. The control unit is also responsible for drawing up the declaration provided for in Article 38f) of R. (EC) 1260/1999. By virtue of its own tasks related to the management of the EC budget, the European Commission verifies that the control system ensures the correct and efficient use of Structural Fund assistance. On its own initiative it can proceed to perform monitoring inspections with the assistance, if necessary, of the national authorities.