Lack of transparency hides details of funding

The Bureau has created an index to show how good each of the 27 member states is at providing transparent detail about the Structural Funds.

Member states are supposed to publish details of the distribution of the money under the European Transparency Initiative (ETI).

However, the levels of transparency differ markedly between the states. This proved a major problem when compiling a database detailing the recipients of the Structural Funds.

Compiling the data was made all the more difficult by misinformation, incomplete data and overly complicated websites, some of which are themselves funded by Brussels.

Perhaps surprisingly some of the most transparent states are new EU members such as Slovakia and Poland. Both made their data available for download with clear indications about how much EU money was being given to beneficiaries, and are therefore at the top of our index.

In comparison, Bulgaria, which is at the bottom, often make only scanned, sometimes unreadable documents available to the public. In order to get a full list of beneficiaries the Bureau had to go directly to the Bulgarian authorities to get useable data.

We found many mistakes in the data published by the UK, and Belgium published incomplete data.

We have scored each member state out of 100. The total relates to a series of criteria including the usability of the website and accessibility of data, the amount of detail provided and the format of disclosure. You can see how each country scored on our Transparency Index.

The European Commission said: “With regard to Structural Funds, all Member States must publish lists of beneficiaries. The European Commission has asked the Member States to do this according to the same format and/or template, but so far they have not responded to this request. The Commission cannot oblige the Member States to harmonise the publication requirements of these lists of beneficiaries, but will reintroduce this request in future, when drawing up new proposals.”

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