|IG Kultur Österreich - Claiming the right for good governance within the EU administration!|
IG Kultur Österreich, the umbrella organization for independent and autonomous cultural work in Austria is currently supporting one of its members in a court case against the European Commission. The reason for the court case is the costs that have arisen due to the delayed payment of previously approved subsidies.
In 2000, the association received a subsidy from the EU Culture Programme. The contracted project was completed in the same year, and all the costs eligible for their subsidy were cleared with the Commission in September 2000. In 2002, the same member organization completed a second Culture programme project. However, the EU Commission held part of the subsidy from their 2002 project back and even opened up the case of the approved financial completion, counting it against the still uncompleted settlement of the first project. This situation has led to an enormous struggle for existence of the association, because the member had counted on receiving the entire subsidy and, on top of the resources the Commission is holding back, the association was asked to return a major part of the subsidy.
Because of the prolonged period before receiving the final approval of the finances and final settlement (the Commission took two years to set an audit date and another year to come to its final settlement for the first project), our member association faced the costs of the interest fees that accumulated from the loans necessary to bridge the costs over these years. These bridging loans and the associated costs are not recognized expenses. According to EU policy, interest fees are not accountable. This means that loans for bridging the time between the end of a project and the final settlement by the EU Commission have to be paid out of other budgets.
The problem is that there are no deadlines for the EU Commission to finalize the accounting. There is, however, the right for every citizen of the Union to good governance.
Interestingly enough the EU Commission states that the case cannot be taken to court because the relation between subsiding organization and the recipient of the subsidy does not correspond with civil law, as it is an act of sovereignty- despite the wording in all relevant documents includes "contract" or "agreement".
IG Kultur Österreich therefore demands standardized proceedings to be developed by the EU Commission for the acceptance of interest fees as accountable expenses.