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Timeliness of payments by the European Commission

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  • Case: OI/2/2013/EIS
    Opened on 23 Apr 2013 - Decision on 17 Dec 2013
  • Institution(s) concerned: European Commission
  • Field(s) of law: General, financial and institutional matters
  • Types of maladministration alleged – (i) breach of, or (ii) breach of duties relating to: Reasonable time-limit for taking decisions [Article 17 ECGAB]
  • Subject matter(s): Execution of contracts
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Author: Stocklib
Copyright: Stocklib ©

Summary of the decision on own-initiative inquiry OI/2/2013/EIS concerning the European Commission

In April 2013, the Ombudsman opened an own-initiative inquiry concerning the issue of timeliness of payments by the European Commission. This inquiry followed three earlier inquiries into the same subject-matter. The present inquiry was to ascertain the Commission's performance in making timely payments to contractors and beneficiaries of grants and subsidies. The Ombudsman asked the Commission to provide information on the results of the steps it had taken to identify and deal with the causes of delays it experienced in making payments and to present statistical data that illustrate the problem or the remedial action taken by it.

Having examined the information provided to her, the Ombudsman concluded that there have been improvements in the Commission's performance between 2011 and 2012 in a number of respects. When comparing the figures for 2012 with those for 2008, it emerged that the percentage of the number of delayed payments had more than halved between 2008 (22.67%) and 2012 (11.80%). The same turned out to be true as regards the percentage of late payments in value which, in 2008, amounted to 13.95%, and had decreased to 6.02% in 2012. Moreover, the average delays decreased from 47.45 days in 2008 to 46.05 days in 2011 and 41.74 days in 2012.

The findings show that the measures undertaken by the Commission have brought about improvements and that a further important step has been made in order to get to grips with the problem of delayed payments. However, the Ombudsman also pointed to other ongoing problems which need to be tackled. Her inquiry showed, for instance, that the total amount of interest paid on account of delays in payment has increased, from EUR 679 726.98 in 2011 to EUR 738 959.75 in 2012.

In view of the above findings, the Ombudsman considered that there are no grounds at present for further inquiries. However, she also considered it necessary to keep this issue under consideration and asked the Commission to provide her with figures on late payments for 2013, as soon as these are available.