Executive summary

AuthorEuropean Anti-Fraud Office (European Commission)
th Annual Report on the Protection of the European Union’s financial interests — Fight against fraud 
Executive summary
Thirty years protecting the EU’s financial interests
This is the Commis sion’s 30th ann ual report on t he protection of the EU’s f‌in ancial inter-
ests and t he f‌ight against fr aud (PIF Repor t). This thir ty-year perio d can be divided i nto
three phas es of roughly a decade.
During the f‌ir st phase (1989-1998), the legislat ive foundations of the f‌ight aga inst fraud
and irregul arities were laid down.
The second de cade (1999-200 8) was a period of cons olidation, oper ational reforms a nd
the larges t enlargement in the Europ ean Union’s history.
During the t hird decade (20 09-2018), the prote ction of the E U’s f‌inancial int erests ex-
perienced a fres h impetus. Th e European ins titutions agr eed on a series of new acts and
initiatives to fu rther strength en the f‌ight against frau d at EU level and the conditio ns were
set for a new player — the E uropean Public Prosecut or’s Of‌f‌ice (EPPO) — to come on th e
scene soon.
Main cross-cutting initiatives adopted and developed in 
During 2018, the l ast year of the t hird phase, new f‌i nancial rules w ere adopted (in t he
Omnibus regulation’) to simplify and str eamline the us e of EU funds and to r edef‌ine
conf‌lict of int erests for all the f‌inancia l actors implementing t he EU budget in the various
management modes, including at national level.
As the insti tutions negotiate th e legal framework for the multia nnual f‌inancial framewor k
for 2021-2027, the anti-frau d provisions for the sp ending progra mmes are being fur ther
ref‌ined. A ny person or ent ity receiving E U funds will have to fully c ooperate in th e pro-
tection of t he EU’s f‌inancial interest s. They must grant the ne cessary access rights t o the
Commission, OL AF, the EPPO and the Eur opean Court of Audit ors and ensure that an y third
parties inv olved in the implementation o f EU funds do the same.
Highlights in the revenue area
On the revenu e side, the Commission pres ented a new action pla n to continue to ef‌fec tive-
ly f‌ight illicit tra de in tobacco.
New rules were ad opted to cur b transnation al VAT fraud. Mutual ad ministrative a ssis-
tance bet ween Member Stat es increased t hanks to a new p ossibility to se t up joint ad-
ministrative en quiries and to a network of nati onal EU Member St ate analysts w orking in
dif‌ferent areas of fr aud risk under the Eurof‌isc fra mework.
In line with th e Commission’s recomm endations in t he 2017 PIF Report, M ember States
have rolled out new I T tools, risk-b ased approa ches and initia tives to count er the chal-
lenges posed by t he undervaluation of goods ( particul arly footwear an d textiles), inc lud-
ing via e-comm erce. Althoug h Member States d etected fewer ir regularit ies than in 2017
in the custom s area (tradition al own resource s — TOR), the f‌ina ncial cost of thes e irreg-
ularities wa s higher. Similarly, detected fraud wa s stable, but the relat ed f‌inancial impact
was higher.
In the TOR area , this repor t recommends fur ther measu res to address iss ues linked to
cross-border e-commerce, particularly the potential abuse of low-value consignments.

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