The European Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU. Its 672.5 billion euro budget, of which Flanders will receive 2.225 billion, is intended for loans and grants that support reforms and investments by EU countries. The facility aims to mitigate the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic and to make European economies and societies more sustainable, resilient and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transitions.
This 2.225 billion euro budget is part of the recovery plan ‘Flemish Resilience’, which totals 4.3 billion euros and includes 180 projects.
The regulation establishing the Recovery and Resilience Facility was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 18 February 2021 and elaborately specifies the criteria for recovery and resilience plans. This European regulation requires Member States to take action to prevent corruption, fraud, conflicts of interests and double financing when using funds from the facility. To this end, Flanders has set up a management and control system.
Flanders Audit Authority has developed an audit strategy (decision of the Flemish Government of 26 February 2021 [in Dutch]). On 30 April 2021, the Flemish Government decided that the FAA could implement the proposed audit strategy, for which the government will provide additional staff and operating resources.
Within the framework of the RRF, the core tasks of FAA are:
- Assessment of the submitted projects;
- Assessment and follow-up of the internal management and control system;
- Audits of projects;
- Assessment of the accuracy and reliability of reported milestones and targets;
- Verification of the management declaration and summary of audits, as well as providing an audit opinion.
The reporting is communicated to the Minister of Finance and Budget and the project management office (monitoring tool recovery plan) to ensure the conformity of the data.
In its audits FAA will check if:
- the agreed targets and corresponding milestones have actually been achieved;
- the underlying actions are free from substantial irregularities;
- actions are not influenced by double financing.