EU Council of Ministers refuses to make details of millions spent public

25 October 2011

EU Council of Ministers refuses to make details of millions spent public

The European Parliament today declined to approve the accounts of the European Union Council of Ministers for 2009 because the Council refuses to make public the details of its spending. SP Euro-MP Dennis De Jong said that the lack of openness stretched ‘from the failure to go through tendering procedures in a third of the cases to the refusal to give details of spending by foreign affairs coordinator Catherine Ashton,’ adding that ‘there is also a gigantic excess of €17.8 million relating to the purchase of the Residence Palace international press centre in Brussels. In all of these instances and a dozen or so more the European Parliament wants to know what the money was spent on. The Council won’t explain, so we won’t approve the spending.’

In the European Parliament only the social democrats of the PES were happy with the Council’s position. PES leader Martin Schultz, a candidate for President of the Parliament in elections scheduled for December, was clearly hoping to ingratiate himself with the member states’ government leaders, but Dennis de Jong was unimpressed. “A parliamentarian who considers a power play more important than responsibility for millions of euros isn’t one who takes his task as a representative of the people seriously. In my view his behaviour is that of a careerist.”

Today’s vote means that no payments will be made in relation to the Council of Ministers’ spending for 2009. There is nothing new about such problems, the same thing having happened to begin with last year and the year before, until the Council made concessions to the Parliament. “It looks as if the Council is going to turn up late again,” says De Jong. “This clash isn’t necessary. The Parliament has the last word on the spending and the Council should simply cooperate.”

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