In October 2018 Rigrevisionen – the Danish Court of Auditors – published a report concerning the management of support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to the Danish Fisheries sector in the period 2014-2017.
The report contains very strong criticism of the management of this EMFF funding by Danish authorities and gives many clear examples of breaches of both Danish and EU fisheries regulations.
Amongst many other very concerning issues the report points to examples of potential fraudulent abuse of the EMFF funds which should be investigated by the Danish police and further highlights that the European Anti-Fraud Office of Fraud (OLAF) should become involved to potentially reclaim EU funds from the Danish government.
The report was of course written in Danish so, until now, it has not been accessible for the many interested parties who do not speak Danish. An official English translation of the first chapter of the report was published in October 2018 a few weeks after the original report and that provided a basic overview of the issues raised, however there is much more detail and many specific examples which are relevant for everyone concerned with sustainable fisheries in the EU and with the use / abuse of the substantial public funds distributed via the EMFF.
Below are some quotes from the official English translation of the first chapter:
“This report concerns the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ management of support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (the EMFF) in the period 2014-2017.” …“Total funding for the 10 programmes that concern fisheries and aquaculture makes up DKK 536.5 million.”
“In Rigsrevisionen’s assessment, the ministry should have imposed penalty points in additionally 29 cases. Rigsrevisionen assesses that, in failing to do so, 24% of the examined funding has been provided to fishers who would have been excluded from receiving funding had the penalty point system been managed correctly.”
“Rigsrevisionen’s study shows a number of incidents where applicants and contractors contrary to the regulations have been mutually dependent on each other, or applicants have, for instance, asked for offers and traded with their own companies, or invoicing has clearly indicated the use of front men and fraud”.
“The ministry has asked the Legal Adviser to the Government to investigate 18% of the cases included in Rigsrevisionen’s sample, and the ministry expects to report minimum 10% of the cases in the sample to the police. The Legal Adviser to the Government is investigating an additional number of cases.”
“The ministry intends to report the suspected fraud cases to The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Taking into consideration the number of irregularities and errors detected in Rigsrevisionen’s sample, Rigsrevisionen finds that the ministry should look for evidence of fraud in all cases.”
“As a result of the ministry’s inadequate management, support from the EMFF have been provided to applicants in conflict with the regulations, and applicants have not been treated equally. The ministry’s inadequate management entails a risk that the European Commission will reclaim funding already provided.”
“Under the largest scheme for support under the EMFF, for instance, the ministry has not applied the correct support rates in up to 75% of the cases examined, and therefore the amount of funding provided has been excessive in many cases.”
The un-official English translation of the bulk of the report is available here: Rigsrevisionen report English Unofficial translation ALL MAIN TEXT FINAL pdf
It incorporates the official translation of the first chapter into this more complete translation. The official translation of the first chapter is also separately available here.
The full original version of the report in Danish is available here.
We have extracted some examples from the report to provide some idea of the details and content. There are many more. This report is long but it is essential reading.
1) Serious infringement by Danish vessel in Irish waters pdf
2) Fishing in a closed area pdf
3) Incorrect financial information provided in an application for EMFF support pdf
4) Too high support granted for equipment not improving selectivity pdf
5) The Ministry’s administration of the other important criteria for receiving the EMFF funds pdf
6) Discrimination of fishermen with regard to decisions on penalty points pdf
7) Numerous of the largest fishery companies granted 50% when only due 30% pdf
A) Further correspondence between the Danish Ministry (15 January 2019) and Rigsrevisionen (11 February 2019)
B) Brussels, June 19, 2019:- Following the EU Council approval of a ‘general approach’ for €6.14 billion, for the 2021-2027 round of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), NGOs released a briefing today highlighting serious mismanagement of the EMFF in Denmark, and called for greater political and legal scrutiny to avoid abuse of the fund in other EU countries .
The briefing, titled Mismanagement of European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Sees Taxpayers’ Money Vanish into the Wrong Pockets, published by ClientEarth and Our Fish, summarises a report by the Danish Court of Auditors ( Rigsrevisionen )  concerning the mismanagement of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund in Denmark – worth €117 million during the period 2014- 2017.