De Jong: dubious practices should mean no payments to European Environment Agency

26 September 2012

De Jong: dubious practices should mean no payments to European Environment Agency

In view of misspent funds and a continuing investigation by EU anti-fraud body OLAF, the European Parliament Budgetary Control Committee is withholding payments to the European Environment Agency (EEA). Commenting on the decision, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said: ‘I’m really pleased about this, as there are a large number of unanswered questions. For example as many as twenty-nine of the EEA’s officials went on a ten-day “study visit” to the Caribbean, which is certainly not provided for in the agency’s mandate. In addition, they spent €300,000 on a green façade of plants at the EEA headquarters in Copenhagen, despite the fact that this money was earmarked for external research.’

OLAF’s enquiry is centred on the agency as such and on the director’s alleged conflict of interests. It’s unclear how long her activities for the Earth Watch organisation have continued during the time she has been director of the agency and thus responsible for commissioning work from this body, such as the above-mentioned Caribbean study visit, which Earth Watch organised.

Two further agencies have come under scrutiny since the beginning of the year. In the case of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), there has been criticism of the close links between the food industry and EFSA’s leadership. In addition, EFSA employees taking positions at biotechnology firms immediately on leaving was in conflict with EU rules. The European Medicines Agency has also been found wanting. ‘The fact that these two agencies’ expenditure has now been approved is a result of confidence that new measures can prevent conflicts of interest from arising,’ explains De Jong. ‘I’ll be continuing to follow these activities with a critical eye. Confidence is all very well, but monitoring and control are better.’

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