Conflict 3: A Lack of Transparency

It's a strange cycle. The European Court of Auditors examines where the European Commission funds go on the basis of IMI records. The results are also released --  but only to IMI.

TMN/ Beyond

Complaints about IMI's lack of transparency have also come from industry itself. In 2012, German biotech companies wrote a letter to the department of current IMI chief Irene Norstedt, complaining about a "glaring lack of transparency toward the research organizations themselves, but also toward the member states."

IMI has said it will improve transparency in a second phase of the program by implementing strong control mechanisms prior to project commencement and increased monitoring of results. "I'll be curious to see whether this will work," says Inge Grässle, chair of the European Parliament Budgetary Control Committee.

Grässle took a close look at the IMI budget and the European Commission audits and concluded that although revenues and expenditures were monitored on a regular basis:

"The mistakes discovered by the auditors were only reported to IMI itself. It's as if a company were subjected to a tax audit, but the results were not sent to the tax authorities but simply back to the company itself."

When questioned by the investigative team, IMI rejects this criticism. Everything is legitimate, says spokeswoman Catherine Brett, who goes on to note that the project has been integrated into the European Commission's anti-fraud program since 2012.

However, implementation of the anti-corruption strategy still seems sketchy. In cases in which sensitive processes involving experts occur, the résumés of these experts should be made accessible to the public. This was demanded by the European Parliament in 2012, and the IMI website now includes some information about IMI employees. However, it still provides no information on the identity of the pharmaceutical industry's auditors

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