Nedzhmi Ali, rapporteur on the ECA SR 26/2018 (Discharge 2017): A series of delays in Customs IT systems: what went wrong?

10-10-N. Ali 1 - Rodopi copy

During the CONT Committee meeting on 10th October, Nedzhmi Ali (ALDE) was rapporteur on the ECA SR 26/2018 (Discharge 2017): A series of delays in Customs IT systems: what went wrong?, and gave the following statement:

Dear Mme Chair, Mrs Lindstrom, colleagues,

Customs play an important role in the context of providing a substantial part of the Traditional own resources exceeding 20 billion Euros in year 2017 that equals approximately to 15% of the EU budget. Customs help safeguarding the financial interests of the Union and of the Member States but they also protect the public against terrorist, health, environmental and other threats.

In this regard, the ECA special report assessing the implementation of Customs´ Information Technology (IT) systems, presents a very sober analysis of the situation, with relevant conclusions and properly established recommendations.

Here is important to note that the Commission, despite some additional explanations and disagreements on part of the observations, accepts all of the recommendations in ECA´s Special Report.

Nevertheless, I would like to ask the representatives of the European Commission a few questions that are based on the information from the Report.

We are discussing a programme, successor of programmes that started in the distant year 1991 and within the next MFF will be succeeded by the next Customs programme. While for the next programme, the Commission envisions 950 million Euros in current prices and there is a consensus with the European Parliament on this number, we would like to be sure that the implementation will be on time, with the full scope and within the financial limits.

In this regard for me is difficult to understand why if there is in place a Multi-Annual Strategic Plan setting down a strategic framework and milestones for managing IT projects coherently and effectively, such enormous delays in implementation occur? Were the objectives, the indicators, timetable and the needed financial resources correctly set in that Plan?

In a couple of years we expect the beginning of the new MFF. Within the Function 1 (Single market, Innovation and Digital) several programmes are envisioned – EU Anti-fraud Programme, FISCALIS and Customs. At the same time within Function 4 (Migration and Border Management) there is an Integrated Border Management Fund and related specific Instrument for financial support for customs control equipment. Assuming that all of these programmes will act in synergy, how the possible delays in implementation of one of them would influence negatively the others?

While a substantial amount of financial resources have been devoted to the current Programme which objectives haven´t been achieved, may we speak in this case about Performance based budgeting and European added value?

From the ECA´s report is visible that the implementation of part of the projects within the Multi-Annual Strategic Plan 2017 is set for the end of 2025. When the integration of the separate projects and Full operational capability of the whole system will be reached? May we expect this process to be completely finalized before the end of next MFF?

And finally, one question to ECA. According to the regulations, Member States keep 20% of the funds collected from the customs duties as collection costs and the remaining 80% goes to the EU Budget as revenue. While these 20% generally are for the administering of the process, ECA believes that these financial resources are sufficient to cover also the expenditure incurred by MS for implementing customs IT systems. On what estimates this assumption is based?

 

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