Integrity and Transparency
Frequently asked questions about the operation of the EUTF
The EUTF as an efficient instrument of the EU Cooperation
The European Trust Fund for Colombia is a fiduciary fund established officially on December 12, 2016 under the Constitutive Agreement. Trust funds are financial instruments the European Union has been using since 2013 for development cooperation in situations that require a flexible, reactive and results-oriented response. It consolidates contributions from the EU budget, its Member States as well as other donors under one management.
The European Trust Fund for Colombia was created as a response to the Colombian government’s request to receive the EU’s technical and financial assistance to implement the Peace Agreement signed between the government and former FARC-EP. The Agreement has a special role assigned to the EU as an international partner regarding on items 1 and 3 of the Agreement concerning the Integral Rural Reform and the Reincorporation of former combatants.
The EUTF was established with the participation of 19 European Union member states and with €94.6 million in contributions. In November 2018, a substantial increase in the Fund (an additional €26 million) was announced, and Chile became the Fund’s first Latin American donor and member. In 2019, Austria and Finland joined the Fund’s list of contributing states and in 2020, Romania. The 31 EUTF projects have been approved for a total value of €130 million.
Trust Fund governance and management bodies
The Fund has the support of a governance structure ensuring transparency, efficiency and effective coordination for decision-making on resource allocation and management.
It includes two governing bodies: the Trust Fund Strategic Board and the Operational Committee.
The European Commission, represented by the European Union Delegation (EUD) in Colombia, is responsible for the management of the Trust Fund.
The Colombian government, represented by the Counselor for Stabilization, is a partner in the EUTF governing bodies. This allows dialogue and coordination on priorities and needs raised by the Colombian government. The Counselor for Stabilization’s opinion on the identification, formulation and implementation is required in order to guarantee ownership and further sustainability on the different initiatives.
Additionally, the Fund has the support of the territorial and sectoral committees to oversee projects’ coordination at the local level.
The Trust Fund Strategic Board
The Trust Fund Board adopts and reviews the strategy of the EUTF, adjusts the geographical and thematic scope of the activities, decides on the strategic guidelines of the Fund, evaluates annual reports and the results of the financed actions, and defines the methods in which non-European countries may contribute to the EUTF.
The Operational Committee is responsible for examining and approving the actions to be financed by the Fund, ensuring that they are aligned with its priorities, which are listed in Annex 1 of the Constitutive Agreement. Its functions are to supervise the implementation of the financed actions, approve the annual reports of the EUTF and ensure the adequate visibility of its initiatives.
The Operational Committee is composed of the following members: (i) the Commission´s representative, acting on behalf of the EU (ii) the representatives of the founding members who have contributed with at least 3 million Euros and (iii) a representative of other donors or pool of donors, which has provided a signed contribution agreement for less than 3 million Euros. The invitation is extended to representatives of the Partner and representatives of non-Member States, and representatives of other organizations to act in the role of observers.
The European Commission
The European Commission is in charge of the management of the Fund, of the Secretariat of Trust Fund Board and of the Operational Committee, the projects’ financial administration, the implementation of the initiatives, among other relevant activities. To implement these activities, the Commission has the support of an administrative delegate, an accounts delegate and a team of project officers that work at the European Union Delegation in Colombia.
Follow-up, monitoring and accountability of the Trust Fund
The EUTF is involved in a significant number of projects that are designed under the territorial focus with their appropriate logic and strategies and according to the dynamics and needs of the local population. In order to advance in the monitoring and evaluation processes and accountability that respect the heterogeneity of the projects but allow them to have a global vision, of which the Fund is aiming to reach and has been identified in three levels of work:
Data gathering and results consolidation are carried out by project partners during the implementation phase. They allow reporting regularly on technical advances and compliance with contractual requirements. They are not limited to solely the activities in the Logical Framework, but also analyze other results and transformations brought upon by the project. To do this, partners count on specialized technical teams and the support of the EU technical assistance team.
Consolidated EUTF results
Globally, the EUTF has 28 Objectively Verifiable Indicators (IOVs) divided into 12 categories. These indicators allow the integration of projects from different partners. This set of framework indicators also allows the Fund to organize and group projects’ technical progress, and to report results and figures at a general, thematic, and regional level. IOVs are a fundamental resource in terms of integrity and transparency, and a practical tool for communication, visibility, and knowledge management. In order to develop this level of analysis, the Fund created an online platform. Through this platform, project implementers regularly report their project indicators, and the data reported is used to update the Fund’s web page, which is publicly accessible.
Strategic Pillars as a reference framework for analysis and evaluation
Beyond figures and reporting contractual progress, the Strategic Pillars provide key information for internal analysis and further evaluation over the life of the Fund. They analyze and inform the strategic contributions made by the projects towards the implementation of the Peace Agreement and the construction of territorial peace. The strategic impact is understood as the significant effects on the local dynamic and the reality of the communities that can be attributed to the European Trust Fund for Peace in Colombia.
Additionally, in order to guarantee transparency and sound management, two external monitoring tools are used in parallel:
It is a complementary support to the general follow-up and monitoring strategy of the EUTF which was developed by an independent company. Through field visits (at least one, per project per year) and technical assistance, this will identify early-warning and best practices and support the development of strengthening plans. This external, autonomous and objective view complements and enriches the monitoring and evaluation processes for each project carried out as well as the monitoring and evaluation strategy of the EUTF.
The ROM system, Results Oriented Monitoring, is a methodology implemented world-wide by the European Commission which allows project monitoring, with a strong emphasis on Results-Based Management, and strengthening connections among the Delegation, partners and local stakeholders. It assesses the quality of the assistance provided, including its pertinence, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability and provides a precise analysis on mainstreaming gender, conflict sensitivity, do no harm action, etc.
The Fund´s auditing and control
The auditing and control processes of the EUTF are ruled by the Financial Regulation (FR) of the EU. The FR lays down the procedures governing the establishment, implementation and control of the European Union’s budget and its financial control under principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
The European Trust Fund for Peace in Colombia undergoes an independent external auditing every year carried out by an international audit firm, in which it evaluates the management and accomplished objectives.
Audits carried out so far concluded that the internal control system of the EUTF worked in an effective manner and ensured security with regard to the legality and regularity of the financed initiatives.
In addition to the annual audit of the Fund, a risk evaluation is carried out on a yearly basis for the entire projects portfolio and, where appropriate, individual risk evaluations are undertaken for specific cases.
Projects expenditure verification
Concerning individual projects, the auditing process and/or expenditure verification will be carried out at the contract level. Each individual project will be subject to an expenditure verification process conducted by independent and external auditors, in order to ensure the effective management of the EUTF´s resources.
The expenditure verification is conducted on a yearly basis when a payment is requested to the Contracting Authority, the EU. The auditor examines the exactness and eligibility of declared costs and the action´s revenues.
European Court of Auditors
The European Court of Auditors exercises the same powers over the Fund as they do over any other activities of the European Commission.
Reports for the European Parliament (EP) and the Council
The EUTF’s annual accounts and the annual report are made available to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.