The fight against fraud covers all illegal activities having a negative impact on the European Union Budget. However, at the present juncture, OLAF is not in a position to follow up the Council's request and provide a distinct picture in its report on the one hand for the phenomena of fraud, and on the other, for irregularities. Practices on the ground differ so significantly between Member States, that any distinction would be arbitrary. For example, Italy and Germany are more readily willing to recognise the potentially criminal dimension of certain behaviour than other Member States. Henceforth, the Member States, in accordance with their regulatory obligations, will ensure than the information chain between administrative and judicial authorities is not broken, to ensure that all data can be analysed and the true nature of the facts determined.The Member States notified a total of 6,587 cases in 2000. The United Kingdom proved to be the most vigilant both in terms of the number of cases (496) and regarding the sums involved (Euro 349 million), followed by Germany (482 cases involving Euro 57 million). Greece didn't notify a single case, a fact that astounded both Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer's services and OLAF. In addition to the cases notified by Member States, the anti-fraud office dealt with 368 new dossiers, most of which proved to involve some form of criminal activity.Whereas recent years have tended to be marked by relative stability in the level of fraud and irregularities detected, 2000 saw a sharp increase in the number of cases uncovered and above all in the sums involved. However, the real extend of fraud cannot easily be pinned on a calendar or specific budgetary year. This is notably true of complex cases involving organised economic crime such as the trade in contraband cigarettes, the tainted butter case and the fraudulent importing of bananas.Traditional own resources.Transit remains a key sector for fraud (11.3% of cases) though on comparable bases its impact is insignificant (1.2%) compared with the period 1997-1999. Fraud in the context of free circulation is focused on the incorrect designation of goods (31.9% of cases and 10.4% of the funds). Breaking down cases of fraud and irregularities by origin, it emerges that dairy products from New Zealand emerge at the head of the 25 leading origins subject to fraud and irregularities, a remark already made in 1998 and 1999, though with a very clear increase in...

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