On the recommendation of information society (IS) experts endorsed by the Ministry for Infrastructure, funding has been withdrawn from 533 (9%) of the enterprises that applied for digi-lodge and digi-retail subsidies. The funding withdrawn amounts to 10% of the total earmarked for the two initiatives.
The Commission has also called for funding to be halted following reports of major irregularities by a certain business centre, as a result of which the SDOE (Financial Crime Investigation Unit) and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) are now conducting a comprehensive examination of state aids.
The need to restructure the information society has been acknowledged and funding is currently being suspended for all state-subsidised IS projects as instructed also by the Financial Control Committee (EDEL).
In view of this:
It the Commission now prepared to allow the resumption of funding for projects that meet the necessary conditions and legal requirements?
If so, how long will it take for regular funding to be resumed where appropriate?
Answer given by Ms Creţu on behalf of the Commission
The calls for proposals related to digi-lodge and digi-retail state aid schemes were published by the Information Society SA in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Following reported allegations on possible state aid mismanagement, the Greek Financial and Economic Unit launched an investigation. This investigation is still ongoing.
In this context, the Commission services asked the competent Greek authorities to provide information on the case and in particular to report on the regularity and legality of the expenditure incurred under the management of the intermediate body, Information Society SA. Furthermore, following an audit review, the management and control system of this intermediate body revealed a number of deficiencies requiring remedial measures. An action plan has been set up and Information Society SA has been invited to conform so as to rectify the identified deficiencies.
As a consequence, all payments under the digi-lodge and digi-retail calls have been blocked by the Greek authorities. As a result of this positive, pro-active approach to protect EU public funds, no payment claims regarding these projects have been submitted to the Commission since the initial deficiencies were identified. It is now up to the Greek authorities to ensure that the management and control system is remedied so as to provide a reasonable assurance on the regularity and legality of the declared expenditure.