De Jong urges thorough investigation of European Agencies’ spending

13 March 2012

De Jong urges thorough investigation of European Agencies’ spending

An as yet unpublished inquiry by the European Union’s Court of Auditors has revealed that European Union agencies’ accounts are in disarray and that they are guilty of massive extravagance, spending an annual total of €1.45 billion. Its examination of twenty-two of the total of forty-two agencies has convinced the Court of Auditors that they have inflated their budgets to such an extent that they have built up huge savings from the excessive amounts of money which they have received. The agencies cover a wide range of policy issues such as food safety and environmental protection, as well as matters of security and policing. Commenting on the findings, SP Euro-MP Dennis De Jong says ‘This report, which remains secret, reveals that the agencies’ office and meeting costs are a great deal higher than those of the Commission in Brussels. Furthermore they are presenting excessive budget estimates, so that despite these relatively high costs they always have money left over. I want now to see a thorough and extensive investigation into these agencies and to this effect have put forward concrete proposals both in the European Parliament Budgetary Control Committee’s 2011 payments report and in a resolution on the Commission’s budget for 2013 which will be debated in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.’

Dennis de JongThe SP wants the European Commission and the Court of Auditors to look further into three points: the effectiveness of the spending, including whether the same tasks could not be performed at less expense by the Commission in Brussels; the possibility of merging of agencies with overlapping tasks; and the democratic legitimacy of the agencies. Last year an investigation commissioned by the SP’s European Parliament team and conducted by Radboud University in Nijmegen in the Netherlands detected major shortcomings in relation to each of these points. The European Agencies receive, in addition to moneys from the EU, funds from both the member states and private sources. “The Agencies’ reports give too little information on this matter,” notes De Jong. “I want to see clarity on this, because he who pays the piper calls the tune and we’re dealing here with important matters such as food safety and the allowing of medicines on to the EU market. The rules on integrity must be sharpened up, too, and I want to see a precise and clear report on how the existing rules on integrity are applied and how independent these agencies really are.”

European agencies make and carry out a great deal of EU policy and fall formally under the European Commission. In the last ten years the number of agencies has grown explosively. The member states often find this to their taste as having an agency on their territory not only provides employment but also carries prestige. An example of this is the fact that The Hague has gained the title ‘City of International Law’ as a result in part of the presence there of EUROPOL and EUROJUST, two agencies concerned with policing and issues of justice. The European Commission also has an interest in the proliferation of agencies, because they enable the number of officials to be kept artificially low, as agency personnel are not normally included in tallies of Commission staff. For these reason the European Parliament has a major responsibility to put these matters in order.

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