EU Court of Auditors Report reveals billions in misspent EU money

10 November 2011

EU Court of Auditors Report reveals billions in misspent EU money

For the 17th year in succession the European Court of Auditors has, for 2010, withheld approval from the EU’s expenditure accounts. After four years in which the number of errors in these accounts has been falling, the books for 2010 have shown a rise, from 3.3% to 3.7% of the budget. The total amount of money involved is €4.5 billion. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, responding to the news, said that ‘Although most of the errors are down to the member states themselves and relate to their spending of EU subsidies, it’s extremely disappointing that this year the percentage has once again shown an increase. The European Parliament must force the Commission to make much stricter arrangements with the member states regarding monitoring their spending of EU moneys.’

Dennis de JongFor the first time the Court of Auditors has paid attention to the effectiveness of the EU institutions’ activities. The Court confirms that the Commission’s services do not adequately investigate how stated objectives are in practice not realised, or not fully realised. De Jong notes that “this is the same conclusion that was arrived at in a previous enquiry, one commissioned by the SP and conducted by the University of Radboud. There too we saw that there hardly existed a reliable way of assessing effectiveness. I hope that the Court of Auditors will see this through, because in times of crisis we need to screen the institutions not only to ensure adherence to the law but also effectiveness.”

Most of the errors were made in relation to expenditure on the Cohesion Fund, where in around 7.7% of cases something had gone wrong. De Jong describes the situation as “a shambles”. The Cohesion Fund is intended to help poorer regions, financing projects through the EU and the local or national authorities. In more than half of the cases in which mistakes were made in relation to the Cohesion Fund the local authorities, according to the Court, were fully informed of unlawful expenditure, but no action was taken. A third of the errors related to projects which, according to the rules, had absolutely no right to receive a subsidy. “The SP has said for years that an end should be put to the needless pumping of money back and forth between the member states and Brussels,” De Jong recalls. “The richer member states have no need whatsoever to receive subsidies from the Cohesion Fund, which is designed to aid poor regions. What’s more, local and national authorities must be tackled if they commit fraud with EU money, and this money must be paid back to the EU.”

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