Big Four bag millions for Structural Reform Support Programme

05 July 2021 2 min. read

Big Four accounting and advisory firms Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC together won over €156 million in contracts from the European Commission (EC) in 2020 alone – much of which was deployed towards the commission’s Structural Reform Support Programme.

Designed to provide EU member states with the technical and financial support required to implement growth-driving reforms, the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP) was launched in 2017 – and draws roughly €75 million in financing from the EC each year.

Part of the reform expertise comes from the EC’s own team of specialists, although the body is increasingly relying on external experts for programme implementation – particularly Big Four accounting and advisory firms. 

Big Four bag millions for Structural Reform Support Programme

Brussels-based media group Euractiv has presented some spending figures: of the €79 million the EC allocated to SRSP in 2019, €24 million was spent on contracts with the Deloitte, EYKPMG or PwC. Last year, their share had risen to €28 million of the €75 million SRSP allocation. And this figure is only set to keep climbing. 

This year, the EC has launched a new iteration of SRSP known as the Technical Support Instrument (TSI) – equipped with all the provisions of the initial programme, plus special consideration for rebuilding efforts following the Covid-19 crisis last year, and a higher budget allocation. Roughly €115 million per year has been earmarked for TSI between 2021 and 2027 – and current trends suggest that the Big Four will likely be in for a larger chunk of change.

Add these allocations to other EC projects that have solicited advisory support – and the Big Four’s earnings from the EC amount to €156 million plus worth of contracts in 2020, topping off €125 million in 2019. Altogether, the EC spent €462 million on the Big Four between 2016 and 2019 according to Euractiv – sparking some concern among member states and the general public. 

EC executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis responded to these concerns in June this year, stating: ”where a task is temporary in nature, or where it requires a skill set which is rapidly evolving – notably in relation to IT development – use of external expertise is a sensible option, bringing in the necessary skills for a time-bound exercise, in a specific field.”