How difficult is getting FP7 funding? Not too hard for some UK and EU fraudsters!

Nature has reported that the European Anti-Fraud Office are currently in the process of prosecuting project consortia who received EU grants for fake research projects. The fraud was committed by a number of beneficiaries who appear to have made up entire research projects, including whole research teams, fictitious companies and subcontractors, and won EU grants for these projects. It appears that the projects were designed solely to obtain the funds and that no actual research activity was carried out.

Four collaborative projects under in the ICT area were terminated by the European Commission, and several individuals were charged for the fraud. Further projects are currently being investigated in the UK, France, Greece, Austria, Sweden, Slovenia and Poland.

It should be stressed that this is a very rare and unusual example of fraud in EU grants, especially when it comes to research grants, and it seems it is never possible to completely prevent fraud, even with the already very strict and robust systems in place for the Framework Programme. Overall, there continues to be a lot of support for simplification of the EU funding programmes including for greater acceptance of own (nationally approved) accounting systems, clarity and consistency.