On the 14th of July 2012, after five years, the commitment period of Switzerland’s EU enlargement contribution comes to an end. During this period, Switzerland appraised and approved together with the new EU-countries from Central and Eastern Europe 210 projects, which are now being implemented with the financial support of Switzerland until the end of 2017.
How can correct use of funds be ensured?
For all countries involved in international cooperation, correct use of funds is a key criterion of success. Switzerland has taken a number of measures to ensure the effective use of funds. These include close monitoring of the project selection process in the partner country, examination of the tendering process and the allocation of projects and the supervision of project implementation. The system of payment used also provides a degree of security. If Switzerland suspects irregularities, it can stop payments.
Careful selection of projects
The National Coordination Unit (NCU) of the partner country concerned is responsible for project selection. An independent body which includes representatives of the National Coordination Unit, the ministries involved and non-governmental organisations, checks the selection criteria and the selection procedure. Switzerland can take part as an observer in the meetings of this body.
Switzerland decides on the financing of the projects. An evaluation of the risks of abuse and of corruptionis an integral part of project examination.
Examination of the allocation of mandates
The granting of supply and service mandates is carried out on the basis of WTO provisions, EU law and Swiss law. The National Coordination Unit must confirm in writing that existing laws have been complied with and that all persons concerned are independent in the case of every public tender. The tender forms also contain an integrity clause. Switzerland has access to all documents concerning the allocation of mandates. In particular, for tenders whose value exceeds CHF 500,000, it has the right to view the tender documents before publication and to attend the evaluation committee meetings as an observer.
Regular reporting and audits
The body carrying out the project is known as the executing agency, which is responsible for the services. This agency reports at least once every six months to Switzerland about the progress of the project and the services for which invoices have been received. The National Coordination Unit checks and confirms that the payment claims are correct. Switzerland has the right to inspect all relevant documents.
By the end of the project at the latest, a certified organisation will carry out a financial audit for each and every project. Switzerland will be informed about all details of the audit and will receive summaries with conclusions and recommendations.
Close monitoring on the ground
The SDC and SECO have established offices in Warsaw, Riga, Budapest, Prague, Sofia and Bucharest.
Switzerland also allocates mandates to external experts, who carefully examine feasibility studies and tender documents. They also visit the projects and check the services provided.
Payments stop in the event of suspicion
As a rule, all contributions to projects and programmes are financed in advance from the budget of the partner state. Switzerland releases the payments only after it has received the payment claims that have been checked and confirmed by the National Coordination Unit. If there is any suspicion of irregularities, Switzerland can stop payments and demand the refund of unjustified contributions.