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Alina PLOAE counsellor Romania-Serbia IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Programme Directorate - MA for European Territorial Cooperation Programmes Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration
My assumptions about you • • This is your first experience of closing a SF programme • • Whether you are MA, IB CA, or AA you’re happy to learn about everyone’s roles • • You will present your experience/proposals and ask questions
2007 -2013 programme closure
Legal Basis General Provisions in Council regulation 1083/2006, e. g. : • Art 67: Annual report and final report on implementation • Art 88: Partial closure • Art 89: Conditions for the payment of the final balance • Art 90: Availability of documents Rules for the Implementation in Commission regulation 1828/2006, Annex VIII: • Model for Final Control Report and Closure Declaration EC Guidance document on Programme Closure 2007 -2013; updated April 2015 – Commission Decision 2771 / 30. 04. 2015 Guidance note to Certifying Authorities COCOF 10/002/02
• Definition: The closure of an operational programme is the financial settlement of any outstanding EU budgetary commitments towards the programme, through payment of the final balance due to the Member State, by cancellation of the remaining budgetary commitments relating to any unused balance (decommitment), or by recovery of any amount unduly paid. (ECA)
3. 9 Accession of Croatia • the end date for eligibility of expenditure is extended by one year for Croatia's programmes under the convergence objective and the programmes falling under the cross-border cooperation component of the European territorial cooperation objective where Croatia is one of the participants. • the final date of eligibility for these programmes will be 31 December 2016. • the deadline for submission of closure documents will be 31 March 2018.
Key Dates • 30 September 2016: Request to transfer between Priorities within Programme • 31 December 2016: Final date of eligibility of expenditure • 30 June 2017: Submission of last interim declaration • 31 March 2018: Final date of submission of closure documents • 31 March 2019: Commission decision on acceptance of documents
Major changes compared to 2000 -2006 Closure • Final date of eligibility & deadline for closure documents: Fixed in Regulation: 31 December 2016 & 31 March 2018; no extension possible • Closure at priority level – now with added 10% flexibility (as in 20002006). Added in 2013 modification of General Regulation • Dedicated section both on major projects and FEI reporting following 2011 modification of General Regulation • Irregularities - amounts irrecoverable: No Art. 5. 2 reporting declaration in line with Annex XI. 3 of the IR; commitment will remain only open if further information is requested or recovery procedure continues.
Major changes compared to 2000 -2006 Closure • Audit authority checks final statement and discloses discrepancies and systemic deficiencies, projected error rate by year and a residual error rate for the programme at closure. • Reporting for withdrawn & recovered amounts, pending recoveries and irrecoverable amounts. Recoveries covered by an annual statement submitted on a yearly basis. • Irregularities - amounts irrecoverable: No Art. 5. 2 reporting declaration in line with Annex XI. 3 of the IR; commitment will remain only open if further information is requested or recovery procedure continues.
Main simplifications • Trimestral reporting to OLAF independent of the reporting under Article 20, Annex XI of the Implementing Regulation. Consequently, no reconciliation exercise with OLAF database • Final report completes the sequence of Annual Implementation Reports and follows the same structure • Electronic submission of closure documentation via SFC 2007
Preparation for closure
Planning for closure Preparation for closure
• Plan all activities of all actors well ahead of closure • Ensure buy-in from Monitoring Committee • Ensure, with CA, consistency of the closure package (financial/irregularities) • Ensure AA and group of auditors are clear on their division of responsibilities • Plan adequate resources, even after submission, for any additional audit work (if needed) • Assess at early stage the completion of operations
Modifications of Programmes decisions • A request for an amendment of a decision for a programme, including amendment of the financing plan to transfer funds between the priorities of the same programme under the same objective and components of the objective and the same Fund • Deadline: 31 December 2016 • However, in the view of timely preparation of the closure, the Commission recommends the submission of the request for an amendment by 30 September 2015
Modifications of Programmes decisions • Member States should take into consideration when submitting their requests for amendments that, according to Article 56(1) and Article 89(1) of the General Regulation, there is no possibility to extend either the final date of eligibility of expenditure, or the deadline for submission of closure documents. • Accordingly, the Commission recommends submitting the request for an amendment by 30 September 2015 in order to allow the Commission enough time to conduct a thorough assessment of the amendment request.
Question ? • Do you foresee any risk in contracting now and allowing full implementation period and funds for the project and not waiting for the approval of the modified OP? • It is MA`s responsibility, therefore you may want to propose a suspensive clause to the beneficiary. Not submitting the modification before the end of the year will have an impact on the de-commitment, if you face any. Indeed the system reimburses on the basis of the situation per priority.
Type of documentation Preparation for closure
3 closure documents required: 1) Final implementation report = communication tool on the results of the programme 2) Application for payment of the final balance and Final statement of expenditure = avoid inclusion of ineligible expenditure 3) Winding-up declaration (Closure declaration supported by a final control report)= pay attention to audit and control issues not resolved before closure !! Coherence of amounts in the 3 closure documents!!
• All documents are submitted electronically via SFC. • Member States shall ensure that the financial information contained in all the above documents as well as in SFC 2007 are aligned • All supporting documents (regarding expenditure and audit) must be kept available for 3 years. • Deadline for submission: 31 March 2018 • Failure to submit financial correction
Changing Documents after deadline • • Not permitted for documents listed under Art 89(1) except to correct “clerical mistakes”. This term is not defined. • • New expenditure allowed to be added after submission, but the value of a declaration can be reduced • • Failure to meet this deadline will result in closure being completed on the basis of the closure documents which may result in a reduced settlement
Availability of documents • Art 89(5) requires retention of documents for 3 years • • The clock is stopped by any legal proceedings and on the duly, motivated request of the Commission
Institutional actors Preparation for closure
Closure Planning –Closure Group Purpose: To develop methodology and guidance for planning closure to: • Develop a closure strategy • Consider regulatory requirements and Commission guidance • Review closure process, identify key milestones • Produce guidance and ensure compliance • Reduce risk of financial loss to Member State • Consider resource implications of closure work • Receive progress reports from OP teams
Closure Planning –Closure Group Who should be involved? • Managing Authority • Intermediate Bodies • Certifying Authority • Audit Authority
Role of Managing Authority/IBs in Closure Process • Prepare final expenditure claim • Complete management verifications • Reconcile claim with accounting records • Verify amount of public contribution paid or due to be paid
Role of Managing Authority/IBs in Closure Process • Write Final Implementation report (Annex XVIII Reg 1828/2006) • Verify that errors/irregularities were corrected stemming from the results of all available audits (management checks, system audits/on operations audits, other national bodies, EU bodies audits) • Verify correspondence of the all financial information with final implementation report
Project Closure • Do you have a profile for project closure? • Will all projects reach financial closure in time? • Do you have a contingency plan if they don’t?
Article 13/Desk based checks process • Does MA have a plan for Article 13 & desk based checks in 2017 (to capture final project claims submitted after 31 December 2016)?
Article 16: Closing Qualified Audits • MA needs a plan for addressing adverse findings arising from Article 16 audit sample in 2016 -17 and 2017 -18.
Questions to be answered • Who drafts the Final Implementation Report? • • Will there be sufficient time to do this after final Art 13 & Art 16 checks? • • Early submission will almost certainly assist early closure - has this been considered?
Some practical lessons • Prepare a CLOSURE ACTION PLAN: start early enough with the preparation of all documents and coordination with Commission, through relevant programme managers • Do not underestimate the work required • Identify the challenges and risks • Agree a realistic timetable • Agree actions: who does what and when • Loss of experienced staff to complete the closure process
And also… • Failure of beneficiaries to complete projects and to submit final claims on time (impact on final payment claim!) • Consider the need to modify Programme in 2016 (no later than Sept!) • Situation regarding the 2016 annual report (in or outside final report) • Ensure that there is a procedure to deal with durability of operations (5 years from completion)
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • Aim and objectives • The main purpose of this Action Plan is to set up clearly the structures involved in the closure of the Programme, their responsibilities and the timeframe necessary for a smooth closure of the Programme, according to the regulations. • Responsibilities of authorities involved • Managing Authority: • 30 September 2016: Modification request of Commission decision regarding the Programme • Submits to the EC the request for modifying a decision regarding the Programme, including the financing plan for transferring funds between priority axes of the programme.
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • January-16 May 2017: Verifying the reimbursement request • ensures that all the supporting documents regarding expenditure and audits on the programme concerned are kept available for the Commission and the Court of Auditors for a period of three years following the date of closure of the programme – delegated to the JTS, according to the Implementing Agreement; • Draw up the Final Implementation Report, gathering information from all the managing structures of the Programme and submit it by 31 March 2017;
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • 16 May 2017 - Last interim Declaration of expenditure • Submits to the CA last interim Declaration of expenditure for the last interim payment application. • May- August 2017: Analysis and management verifications for the final Declaration of expenditure • Performs all management verifications, according to the applicable regulations, for the expenditures requested by the beneficiaries exceptionally not included in the declaration of expenditures corresponding to the last interim payment application.
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • May- August 2017: Analysis and management verifications for the final Declaration of expenditure • Ensures that final declaration of expenditures has and can be reconciled with the records in the accounting system for the program and in MIS ETC. • Ensures that there is an adequate audit trail for UE funds and national cofinancing up to the final beneficiary; • Ensures that the final declaration of expenditures for the programme reflects the national public contribution paid to the beneficiaries according to the regulations.
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • May- August 2017: Analysis and management verifications for the final Declaration of expenditure • Ensures the completion of investigations by issuing debt notices and takes all necessary measures for the debts recovery, where appropriate, for all suspicions of irregularity arising from management checks, verifications conducted by the AA, system and operations audit missions of the Audit Authority, or audits carried out by other national and audits Commission and the European Court of Auditors; • Decision making on the amounts declared according to applicable European regulations as "Amounts that cannot be recovered", to be requested to be borne by the general budget of the European Union.
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • 1 September 2017: Final Declaration of expenditure to the CA • August-October 2017: Final Implementation Report • Draw up the Final Implementation Report, in consultations with the CA in order to correlate the financial information with the ones included in the final declaration of expenditure. • 1 November 2017: Final Implementation Report to the AA • 15 January 2018: Annual Statement on withdrawn, recovered amounts, pending recoveries and amounts which cannot be recovered to the CA
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • February 2018: Final Implementation Report approved • Final Implementation Report, after AA recommendations and consultation of all bodies involved in the process. • Approval of the JMC of the final implementation report. • 31 March 2018: Final Implementation Report sent via SFC 2007 to the EC • April 2018 - notification on the Programme closure – reporting on the suspended projects • Ongoing reporting to the EC regarding the results judicial / administrative proceedings for suspended projects.
Certifying Authority • Draw up the application for final balance and the Final Statement of Expenditure Annex X Reg 1828/2006 • Ensure that it receives all necessary information from MA and on all audit results • Satisfy itself that all errors/irregularities were corrected either by withdrawal or by a deduction • Draw up the final statement on withdrawn/recovered/pending recoveries/irrecoverable amounts • Draw up annex to the statement of expenditure on Financial Instruments and state aids (art. 78 a of Reg. 1083/06) • Deduct existing Net revenues by 31 March 2018 Important: CA should submit its work to AA at least 3 months before deadline to allow sufficient time for the AA to carry out its work for the closure declaration
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME Certifying Authority: • 30 June 2017: Last interim Application for payment to the EC • Sends to the EC and AA last interim application for payment • 1 September – 31 October 2017: Last interim Application for payment to the EC • 1 September to 31 October 2016: Verifications for drafting the final Declaration of expenditure and application for payment of the final balance • Ensure that there is sufficient information from MA to certify the eligibility, legality and regularity of the amounts declared;
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • Ensure that the recovered amounts up to 31 August 2017 shall be considered for the final declaration of expenditure; • Requests additional information and performing other verifications, if necessary; • Ensure that financial information contained in the final declaration of expenditure and application for payment of the final balance are corresponding with the ones registered in SFC 2007. • November 1 2017: Final declaration of expenditure and application for payment of the final balance • Sends to the AA the final declaration of expenditure and application for payment of the final balance
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • January-March 2018: Annual Statement on withdrawn, recovered amounts, pending recoveries and amounts which cannot be recovered to the CA • January 31 – sends to the AA the annual statement on withdrawn, recovered amounts, pending recoveries and irrecoverable amounts, taking into account the information from the records of CA until 31 December 2017; • March 15 – Sends via SFC 2007 the annual statement on withdrawn, recovered amounts, pending recoveries and irrecoverable amounts, revised as appropriate, following the findings/ recommendations of the audit of the AA;
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • Send to the AA the final declaration of expenditure and application for payment of the final balance, revised as a result of the findings/recommendations of the final audit of the AA, within two weeks of receipt. • March 31 2018: Submission to the EC via SFC 2007 of the application for payment of the final balance and the final statement of expenditure • Draws up the Certified statement of final expenditure and final application for payment and submits it by 31 March 2018;
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • Audit Authority: • Performs the audit for closure. • Draws up the final control report and closure declaration in accordance with applicable European regulations. • Corresponding to the deadlines assumed by the MA and CA and according to the EC guidelines regarding the closure of operational programmes, the AA will carry out all the activities required to prepare the necessary documents for closure, taking into account the following deadlines:
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • November 2017 - March 2018: Verifies the closure documents • requests additional information/documents and clarifications to the MA/CA, if necessary; • sends to the CA any corrections/comments to be considered for sending via SFC the annual statement on withdrawn, recovered amounts, pending recoveries and irrecoverable amounts; • sends to the CA the final results of the audit for closure;
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • It assesses the validity of the application for payment of the final balance and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions covered by the final statement of expenditure, which is supported by a final control report. • 31 March 2018 - AA submits via SFC 2007 to the EC the final control report and Closure Declaration
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • as well as on the types of expenditure which, incurring after the finalization of the operations become ineligible if are not paid until 31 st of December 2016. • Ensures that the beneficiaries hold an adequate audit trail for UE funds and national cofinancing; • Verifies the implementation status of the list of projects unfinished projects during the eligibility period, completion of which is to be ensured by beneficiaries from their own resources; • Keep available for the Commission and the Court of Auditors for a period of three years following the date of closure of the programme all the supporting documents regarding expenditure.
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • Joint Technical Secretariat (IB): • Shall analyse all the subsidy contracts and shall take due diligence in order to ensure that the deadline for submitting the final reimbursement claim to the MA is set within the deadline of 31 st of March 2017; • Informs the beneficiaries whose projects are still in the implementation period of the operations on 2016, on the deadlines set in Annex 1 Timetable - Deadlines for a smooth closure of the present document regarding: • the final date of eligibility of expenditure, • the final date for requesting the FLC validation, • the final date for submitting the reimbursement claims to the JTS for administrative verification,
ACTION PLAN FOR CLOSURE OF THE ROMANIA-REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IPA CBC PROGRAMME • First level control (both Romanian and Serbian) • Provide to the JTS all the supporting documents regarding the expenditures of all projects financed within the Programme in order to be archived; • As soon as last request for first level control was validated, the documents should be send to the JTS to be archived, as soon as possible; • For the projects already finalised, the FLC should start sending already all documents to the JTS to be archived. • CA receives the final Declaration of expenditure and makes the final mission for certification, which is finalised, according to CA procedures within 14 days.
Lessons learnt for 2000 -2006 put into practice for Closure 2007 -2013 • 1. Start NOW • 2. Set up a TEAM CA MA AA IBs, and ensure regular communication • 3. Clear guidance- Put in place a Plan and ensure all parties know what their task is in the process and deadlines • 4. Plan the resources required- skills required and ensure that these skills are shared by more than one person
Lessons learnt for 2000 -2006 put into practice for Closure 2007 -2013 • 5. Develop rigid templates for closure of Programmes • 6. Force projects to close in time to enable paperwork to be completed, give them guidance and a timetable • 7. Consider putting a penalty on those projects that are not closed in time • 8. Consider a centralized management for all closure reports • 9. Establish a centralized report for all audit recommendations and ensure they are cleared
Lessons learnt for 2000 -2006 put into practice for Closure 2007 -2013 • 10 Monitor the closure of projects- who is monitoring this at a Programme level? • 11. Focus on risks, financial and reputational at all times draw up a risk register and monitor it • 12. Remember the Commission can help and ask them for opinion- if you get it…write it down • 13. Ensure that the Management and Control Description document is compliant- ensure major changes have been included
Lessons learnt for 2000 -2006 put into practice for Closure 2007 -2013 • 14 Remember the Monitoring Committee has the responsibility to approve the ‘final’ closure report-Check the PMC appointments are valid • 15. Deal with Mgt and Control weaknesses identified by auditors along the way, and prove it • 16. Consider a dummy run of closure on a Programme or a group of projects if possible • 17. Prepare for a significant amount of audit work and responses to queries necessary • 18. Prepare for a continual update for submitted data
Lessons learnt for 2000 -2006 put into practice for Closure 2007 -2013 • 19. ETC Programmes ensure all MS agree on their share of any irregularities identified • 20. Consider submitting a early closure pack to get feedback from EC and still have time to make changes before the deadline • 21. Handling of the specific items in closure, Non functioning, phasing, major projects, revenue generation, major projects • 22. Head the TEAM with a senior officer or director • 23. Consider an audit of your closure process now so you can be sure you are prepared
Opportunities • Exchange of experiences, knowledge • • Publication of case studies • • Joint audit work (among MSs, between MS and COM, etc. )
Challenges • The new programming period is already running during the closure period • Simultaneous workload and need for human resources • 2007 -2013: excessive workload on a yearly basis