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European Development Fund: Disbursement Rate

Volume 623: debated on Tuesday 20 March 2001

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What is now the average disbursement time for European Union aid from the European Development Fund; what improvement in the rate of disbursement in comparison to the average of the past five years this represents; whether they are satisfied with the current situation; and, if not, what action they are taking with other European Union member states to ensure an acceptable standard. [HL1073]

There are no published figures for the disbursement time of the European Development Fund. However, at the beginning of 2000, of the total commitments of 6.8 billion euros which had been made from the EDF and were awaiting payment, approximately 1.3 billion euros were either over five years old or had been inactive for at least two years. This was a clear indication of slow disbursement. As part of the present reform process, the Commission is making a significant effort during this year to clear this backlog of commitments. In addition, changes to Commission management procedures and to the EC's Financial Regulation have been proposed which would require commitments entered into in external programmes to be paid within three years. The UK has pressed hard for these changes, which, if adopted, would bring a significant improvement in the EC's disbursement rates.