The activities of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in combating corruption and ensuring the financial security of European Union funds




European Union funds, irregularities, control system for EU funds


In EU legislation, fraud is defined as a deliberate infringement that causes – or is likely to cause – damage to the EU budget. The fight against fraud and any other illegal activity – such as corruption – affecting the EUʼs financial interests is a shared responsibility between the EU and the Member States. OLAF has been active in the protection of the EUʼs financial interests. Between 2014 and 2020, the Commission and Member States detected more than 4,000 potential fraud irregularities, some of which were referred to OLAF. The irregularities concerned EU financial support of almost €1.5 billion, 72% of which was related to EU cohesion policy. Managing authorities in the Member States are responsible for taking proportionate and effective action against fraud in this area, taking into account the risks identified. The national institutions managing EU funds work in cooperation with OLAF. Anti-fraud includes prevention, detection and response, including reporting of detected fraud cases and recovery of funds unduly paid). The proportion of detected fraud in relation to the amount of financial support provided under the cohesion policy for the period 2014-2020 ranged from 0% to 2.1%, depending on the Member State. Between 2014 and 2020, OLAF protected EU taxpayers' money to the tune of around €500 million, recommending the recovery of more than €400 million on average per year for the EU budget due to fraud and irregularities and securing a further million euros. OLAF has also stopped a number of smuggling, counterfeiting and customs fraud attempts. It also helped enforce EU trade defence measures and developed strategies to prevent and counter new forms of fraud. In particular years, it has also investigated allegations of misconduct by staff and members of the EU institutions. In subsequent years, OLAF has carried out more than 250 cases a year.


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How to Cite

Kołcz, B. (2024). The activities of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in combating corruption and ensuring the financial security of European Union funds. Politics & Security, 8(1), 6–18.