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Commission Decision of 5 March 2008 laying down rules for the implementation of Decision No 575/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Return Fund for the period 2008 to 2013 as part of the General programme Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows as regards Member States' management and control systems, the rules for administrative and financial management and the eligibility of expenditure on projects co-financed by the Fund (notified under document number C(2008)796) (Only the Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish texts are authentic) (2008/458/EC)

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Commission Decision

of 5 March 2008

laying down rules for the implementation of Decision No 575/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Return Fund for the period 2008 to 2013 as part of the General programme ‘Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows’ as regards Member States' management and control systems, the rules for administrative and financial management and the eligibility of expenditure on projects co-financed by the Fund

(notified under document number C(2008)796)

(Only the Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish texts are authentic)

(2008/458/EC)

THE COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES,

Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community,

Having regard to Decision No 575/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 May 2007 establishing the European Return Fund for the period 2008 to 2013 as part of the General programme ‘Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows’(1), and in particular Articles 23, 31(5), 33(6) and 35(4) thereof,

Whereas:

(1) It is necessary to lay down the conditions under which Member States should implement the action under the Fund, in particular to identify under which circumstances the responsible authority may implement projects directly. Further provisions should also be laid down for delegated authorities.

(2) It is necessary to identify a list of procedures and/or practical arrangements that the different designated authorities should lay down and follow for implementation of the Fund.

(3) It is necessary to lay down the obligations which the responsible authorities should have with regard to final beneficiaries in the phase leading to selection and approval of the projects to be funded and with regard to the aspects which should be covered by the verifications of the expenditure declared by the final beneficiary and/or by the partners in the project, including administrative verifications of the applications for reimbursement and on-the-spot verifications of individual projects.

(4) In order to ensure that expenditure under annual programmes can be properly audited, it is necessary to set out the criteria with which audit trails should comply in order to be considered adequate.

(5) The audits of projects and of systems are carried out under the responsibility of the audit authority. To ensure that the audits offer adequate scope and effectiveness and are carried out in accordance with the same standards in all Member States, it is necessary to set out the conditions which the audits should fulfil, including the basis for sampling.

(6) The Member States must submit to the Commission, together with their multiannual programme, a description of their management and control systems. Since this document is one of the principal bases on which the Commission relies, in the context of shared management of the Community budget, to determine whether the financial assistance concerned is used by the Member States in accordance with the applicable rules and principles for protecting the Community's financial interests, it is necessary to set out in detail the information that this document should contain.

(7) In order to harmonise standards for programming, following up the implementation of the Fund, auditing and certifying expenditure, it is necessary to clearly define the contents of the multiannual programme, the annual programme, the progress report, the final report, the applications for payments as well as the audit strategy, the annual audit report, the declaration of validity and the certification of expenditure.

(8) Since Member States are required to report and monitor irregularities and to recover sums wrongly paid in connection with the financing from the Fund, it is necessary to define requirements for the data sent to the Commission.

(9) Experience has shown that citizens of the European Union are insufficiently aware of the role played by the Community in funding programmes. It is therefore appropriate to define in detail the information and publicity measures necessary to bridge this communication and information gap.

(10) In order to guarantee that information on possible funding opportunities is disseminated widely to all interested parties and for the sake of transparency, the minimum measures needed to inform potential final beneficiaries about the financing opportunities offered jointly by the Community and the Member States through the Fund should be set out. In order to enhance transparency about use of the Fund, the list of final beneficiaries, the names of the projects and the amount of public funding allocated to projects should be published.

(11) In the light of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data(2) and Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data(3), it is necessary to provide, in relation to the information and publicity measures and audit work under this Decision, that the Commission and the Member States should prevent any unauthorised disclosure of or access to personal data and to specify the purpose for which the Commission and the Member States may process such data.

(12) Use of electronic means to exchange information and financial data between the Member States and the Commission leads to simplification, increased efficiency, transparency and time savings. In order to capitalise fully on these advantages while preserving the security of exchanges, a common computer system may be established by the Commission.

(13) To ensure efficient implementation of the Fund in the Member States, in accordance with the principles of sound financial management, a series of common rules should be adopted on the eligibility of expenditure from the Fund. In order to reduce the administrative burden on final beneficiaries and designated authorities, flat rates for indirect costs should be eligible under certain conditions.

(14) In accordance with Article 3 of the Protocol on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty establishing the European Community, the United Kingdom is bound by the basic act and, as a consequence, by this Decision.

(15) In accordance with Article 3 of the Protocol on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty establishing the European Community, Ireland is bound by the basic act and, as a consequence, by this Decision.

(16) In accordance with Article 2 of the Protocol on the position of Denmark, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty establishing the European Community, Denmark is not bound by this Decision nor subject to application thereof.

(17) The measures provided for in this Decision are in accordance with the opinion of the Management Committee of the Fund,

HAS ADOPTED THIS DECISION:

(2)

OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31. Directive as amended by Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003 (OJ L 284, 31.10.2003, p. 1).

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