19 mai 2012

Ombudsman: European Commission may change the interpretation of financial rules applicable to its grant receivers during the execution of contract, 286/2011/RT

A small Romanian enterprise that had received 2 grants for projects under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development filed a complaint against the European Commission to the European Ombudsman. The enterprise argued that the Commission had replaced the 2007 Financial Guidelines with the 2010 Financial Guidelines during the execution of the projects. The new version of the Guidelines required fulfillment of cumulative criteria for eligibility of staff costs, which led, after audit, to the necessity to recover a part of the grants (§ 25).

The Ombudsman replied that the 2010 version “simply clarified the conditions” that existed at the moment of signing the contracts (§ 34). It was stated in the 2007 version that “this Guide has been conceived as an evolving document which, it is intended, will be updated regularly (in principle every 6 months) […]” (§ 36). Thus, no maladministration was found.

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