The European Medicines Agency (EMA) in London has carried over into this year an “excessive” amount of payments - some €20 million – that should have been made last year, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors.
Payments of €9.6m for administration and €10.3m for operations were carried over from 2011, amounting to 29% and 34% of their respective budget lines. The auditors have criticised the agency for carrying over funds in previous years. The agency was also criticised for renewing an IT framework contract, first signed in 2009, which the auditors said was not properly conducted.
In response, the agency said it has “made every effort to reduce its level of carry-over to an acceptable level” in recent years, and has actually achieved a continuous reduction. “A certain level of carry-overs is unavoidable,” it said. The agency said the IT contract was renewed because it does not accept the auditors' finding that it was improperly executed.
The EMA has been at the centre of allegations of conflict of interest recently. MEPs initially refused to sign off on the agency's accounts for 2010 because of the concerns earlier this year.
In a separate report, released earlier this month by the auditors, the EMA – along with three other EU agencies – was found to have failed to draw up adequate policies on conflicts of interest. The auditors noted that members of EMA's selection board did not always complete their conflict of interest declarations.
Carry-over was identified as a problem for several other agencies, including Eurojust and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which carried over 16% of its administrative budget and 55% of its operations budget to 2012. ECHA was also found to be failing properly to review and complete conflict-of-interest declarations.