On May 26, the European Commission adopted the first annual work program for the new anti-fraud regime Hercule III. In 2014, €13.7 million will be made available to support EU countries in fighting fraud, corruption and other illegal activities. The program will help finance specific projects and the purchase of technical equipment by national authorities, to tackle smuggling and other activities affecting the EU's financial interests.
Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation, Customs and Anti-Fraud, said “Fighting fraud and corruption in the EU must really be a partnership. Hercule III means that Member States will have significant financial support in catching fraudsters and protecting tax-payers' money.”
The budget for technical assistance actions amounts to €10.3 million and will be used to help national authorities to buy, for example, investigation tools, x-rays scanners and computers for Automated Number Plate Recognition Systems (ANPRS). The Commission will also pay for access to specialized databases for use by EU customs and tax authorities. A further €3.4 million will be spent on training activities, seminars and conferences. Training will, for instance, be organized for operational staff in EU countries’ customs or police forces, to improve their skills in digital forensics and to allow them to share best practice in this field. Seminars, studies and conferences will facilitate the exchange of information between legal experts and academics related to legal practices in fighting fraud and corruption.
Under the Hercule III Program, EU countries can apply for additional funding even when only minimal national co-funding (as little as 10% in some cases) may be available to strengthen the technical and operational capacity of customs and law enforcement agencies.