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The Swedish authorities miss fraud with EU-money

improper payments, corruption and fraud is a widespread problem in the EU's activities. Of the EU's annual budget of more than 1.400 billion estimated in last year's 2.4 per cent, i.e. slightly more than sek 33 billion, which is incorrect.

The incorrect payments has declined steadily in recent years and the EU's objective has been to bring down the margin of error to under two per cent, which has so far failed.

in the incorrect payments vanishingly small – and the few reported suspected violations are almost not at all.

In 2016, the had Sweden, for example, only a single case, 2017 and 2018 registered seven complaints. The lack of notifications does not mean that it has not committed any crime, according to Olof Hallström, verksjurist at the serious fraud office and the president of the Council for the protection of EU's financial interests in Sweden. In Sweden there are seven different authorities managing the EU funds and paying out the EU-support.

– these authorities manages 13 billion dollars a year in payouts and it is clear that if you only get one or two notifications, then there is something which is not true, " says Olof Hallström.

a number of different reasons to get suspicions are reported. One is that many administrators would rather help than question.

"Many practitioners have a resistance to be questioning and controlling, there is also a naivety about crime in Sweden," he says.

Recently held a conference for the authorities administering EU funding, on the theme of why so few suspicions are reported. The conference addressed to managers and employees on authorities.

– Ekobrottsmyndighetens director-general also had a private meeting with the directors-general of, inter alia, the Swedish Customs, the Swedish board of Agriculture and the national financial management authority where they discussed the importance of managing these issues. EU money is also public money which should be handled as gently as you handle English means, " says Olof Hallström.

notifications for example, if a beneficiary leaves the imperfect or suspended tasks or deliverables to payments.

– If you compare with other agencies that pay out the grants, so they are on a anmälningsfrekvens on in each case 10% of all cases, and we are perhaps a thousand, " says Olof Hallström.

the serious fraud office in Stockholm. Photo: Magnus Hallgren

According to statistics from OLAF, the European anti-fraud office, Slovakia was the country with the highest number of notified suspected in 2017, with 172 million euro following Romania 75, and Poland eur 57 million.

the chairman of the antikorruptionsorganisationen Transparency International, was one of the speakers at the conference. She states that Sweden has been cheating with EU funds.

– Between 2 and 5 per cent of all EU funds are lost in corruption, and we know it. Then there's the research from Cambridge University in England, which shows that the contribution increases korruptionsrisken with between three and 20 per cent. It means that there is fraud and corruption with EU funds in Europe, paragraph.

– Then, the next question is whether Sweden is an exception from this? No, a single fraud over a full year in Sweden is unlikely, I dare to question it, " she says.

crime is still lower in Sweden than in Eastern europe.

– In the uk we have a fantastic transparent and corruption-free environment in comparison, there are so huge differences with Romania, for example. Of course, Sweden is very good to, but based on the volumes moved, and only a single notified case, so I wonder if we really have the ability to catch up on everything, " says Louise Brown.

the Fight against fraud against the EU budget should now also be brought centrally in the EU. The next year, a newly established european public prosecutor's office, EPPO, begin its work with to hunt for corruption and cheating. Sweden has until this week been received of a joint prosecutor – something criticised by several other EU countries.

before the members of the european Parliament on Wednesday changed the government side and the prime minister opened the to go with in the Eppo-cooperation.

Stefan Löfven in the EU parliament on Wednesday. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP

My government will propose to the Swedish riksdag that Sweden will participate in the european public prosecutor's office to help in the fight against corruption and the misappropriation of EU funds.

The Swedish member of the European Court of auditors, the former auditor general Eva Lindström, is hopeful in the face of a common european authority against corruption and fraud.

" this may be a gamechanger provided that the organization is designed right and get the right resources. It means that for the first time, an organization that has the right to prosecute the crime in order to protect the EU's financial interests.

has a lot to offer and it is good that Sweden is now also looking out to join in the cooperation.

" We have a long tradition of good management, it is important that Sweden makes its voice heard also because Sweden is a not entirely insignificant net contributor to the EU. I think Sweden has a lot to contribute in the fight against fraud within the EU, " says Eva Lindström.

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