What are the programme’s main activities?
The financial support provided by the Hercule component mostly consists of grants awarded to competent authorities in EU countries. The grants aim to strengthen the operational and technical capacity of EU countries to investigate activities detrimental to the EU budget. The financial support is used to purchase technical equipment and tools, such as investigation and surveillance equipment, forensic tools, and tools to analyse data.
This component also finances training, staff exchanges, risk-analysis workshops, conferences, and comparative studies. It helps national authorities, research bodies, educational institutes, and NGOs to: (i) share best practices; and (ii) improve cooperation and coordination between people involved in protecting the EU’s financial interests. The programme also supports specialised training to improve and update the digital-forensic and analytical skills of law-enforcement organisations.
What's new in this programme?
The Hercule component provides updated support, in particular for technical assistance activities. It takes into account: (i) the changing nature of fraud; (ii) new EU programmes for national authorities to purchase equipment (such as the customs-control equipment programme); and (iii) a stronger focus on supporting on the expenditure side.
The training section in the new programme continues to provide funding for training, conferences, seminars, studies, webinars, and e-learning activities. This training should aim at preventing and combating: (i) fraud; (ii) corruption; and (iii) any other illegal activities affecting the EU’s financial interests. Indicative priority areas are proposed in the call for proposals, and are updated every year.
The Union Anti-Fraud Programme (UAFP) also reflects the importance of: (i) tackling climate change as part of the EU’s commitments to implement the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; and (ii) the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The UAFP therefore aims to promote climate actions and contribute to the overall target of spending 30% of the EU’s budget on supporting climate objectives. To this end, the UAFP may, for example, better equip Member States to prevent imports of certain illicit, climate-unfriendly products. This will not only prevent infringements of EU customs legislation, but also protect the environment.
The UAFP can also support cooperation between customs and other competent authorities to fight fraudulent activities that damage the environment. These activities may include certain waste shipments or illicit trade in endangered species.
The UAFP also strives to support Member States’ digital transition. For instance, it may: (i) fund the acquisition of IT tools for data analysis to detect fraud affecting revenues or expenditure; and (ii) continue to build national expertise on digital forensics.
What does the annual work programme involve?
The first annual work programme, adopted in July 2021 (C/2021/5338), has a budget of EUR 24.053 million, of which EUR 15.16 million is allocated to actions to fight fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities affecting the EU budget. On 7 February 2023, the third financing decision and annual working programme has been adopted (C(2023) 813) with a total budget of EUR 24 850 000 for 2023, of which EUR 15 662 329 is allocated to protect the budget from any detrimental activity.
Regulation (EU) 2021/785 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2021 establishing the Union Anti-Fraud Programme and repealing Regulation (EU) No 250/2014
Implementation reports and annual overviews (Hercule II and Hercule III Programmes)