Friday, 30 March 2012

When “economic, efficient and effective” met Ryanair

When the EC can’t find a specific rule to exclude a cost which they don’t wish to accept, they often describe it as “uneconomic”. Now Ryanair, a low cost airline, has used the same rule against them. The EC invited Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, to lecture at an innovation conference in Brussels. All travel, including chauffeured transport from the airport, would be organised and paid for by the EC.

However, when he asked to fly Ryanair to Brussels Charleroi airport he was told that the EC’s travel agent could not book this travel, because their computer systems did not interface to Ryanair’s. Further investigation found that the travel agent also organises business travel for EC staff, and does not book Ryanair flights for them. How could the EC have selected a travel agent that doesn’t work with (according to Ryanair) Europe’s largest low-cost airline, so missing out on the opportunity to reduce travel costs?

Lawyers for Ryanair have filed a formal complaint with the European Court of Auditors, which audits the EC, asking it to assess “the legality, regularity and financial soundness” of the EC’s travel policy.


Forthcoming Singleimage workshops:

19 April Finance in FP7 – with guest auditor (Brussels)
24 April Consortium Agreements for FP7 (Cambridge)
22 May Winning FP7 bids (Cambridge)
26-27 June Finance in FP7 – the fuller picture (Cambridge)
3 July Coordinating FP7 projects (Cambridge)

Singleimage - FP7 Training Workshops and Advice

Thursday, 1 March 2012

When is a rule not a rule?

One of the EC’s most arcane FP7 “rules” is that pre-financing paid to a project coordinator must be placed in an interest bearing bank account. The EC claims this is required by the EU’s Financial Regulation. The University of Copenhagen disputed their interpretation of the legal texts, and won.

The case was mediated by the European Ombudsman from September 2010 to December 2011, when the EC finally agreed to relax the rule in cases where the coordinator says that the cost of establishing or operating an interest bearing account outweighed the interest to be earned. This now appears in the January 2012 Financial Guidelines.

We should all be grateful to Copenhagen University and others who have taken formal (and informal) action against the EC where it over interprets legal texts to add complexity to FP7.

Singleimage - FP7 Training Workshops and Advice