De Jong demands European Parliament enquiry into EU agencies

16 September 2011

De Jong demands European Parliament enquiry into EU agencies

European agencies are being established in prodigious numbers as a result of collusion between EU member states and the European Commission. Surveillance of the functioning of the agencies and their expenditure is hopelessly inadequate. These are the most important findings of research conducted by Radboud University in Nijmegen on behalf of the SP European Parliament group. Commenting on the findings, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong says: ‘The research makes it clear that there are serious problems with the functioning of these EU agencies. I want to see a European Parliamentary enquiry this year into the agencies’ effectiveness.’

Dennis de JongExponential growth
Since the beginning of the 1990s the number of European agencies has grown exponentially. Until 1990 there were only three such agencies, but in the next decade eleven more were added. In the first ten years of the century a further twenty-five arrived, with three additional agencies being established this year, bringing their number to more than forty in eighteen different member states. According to the researchers, the European Commission sees the establishment of the agencies as a means of artificially holding down the number of officials it employs. From a member state point of view, the establishment of an agency delivers employment and prestige. This, the researchers say, is what has led to such prodigious growth. The procedure must therefore be made more transparent.

Failure of accountability and monitoring
European agencies cost almost €2 billion annually. While it is true that each agency is required to present an account of the millions of euros which it spends, the effectiveness of the expenditure in achieving its ends is not examined. “I’d also like to know if the same work could be done at a lower cost,” says De Jong. According to the researchers the autonomous status of the agencies means that a culture of irresponsibility prevails, in which only internal accountability exists - to the agencies’ leadership - with no accountability to the European Parliament.

Agencies under scrutiny
Recent years have seen various EU agencies come under scrutiny. The European anti-fraud body OLAF announced during the summer that it would be conducting an enquiry into the authorisation of a controversial drug by the European Medicines Agency, while earlier in the year OLAF also established an investigation into corruption at Eurojust, the agency charged with combating organised crime. In addition, an enquiry has been begun by the European Court of Auditors at the behest of the European Parliament with the aim of preventing conflicts of interest. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has on a number of occasions over the last few years been spoken of in connection with alleged close financial links between major corporations and EFSA experts. The European Police College (CEPOL) has for some time been under intensified surveillance as a result of the syphoning off of public moneys for private ends. At Europol, meanwhile, there was earlier in the year a case in which nepotistic influence on staff appointments was involved. The European Railway Agency (ERA), which is headquartered in two separate places, is being looked at as a result of inflated costs in establishing these offices. The researchers further state that member states’ citizens have absolutely no way of influencing the agencies.

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