De Jong: Barroso fails to combat errors in spending of EU moneys

5 November 2013

De Jong: Barroso fails to combat errors in spending of EU moneys

For the nineteenth year in succession the European court of Auditors has failed to give its complete approval to the accounts of expenditure of EU moneys. Commenting on the Auditors’ decision, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong says: ‘Not only has once again no approval been given, for the fourth year in a row the percentage of errors has increased. The Commission under Jose Barroso’s leadership has recorded absolutely no results in this area. The situation has simply got worse.’ The Commission is now seeking a solution in the form of establishing a European Office of Public Prosecutions charged with investigating and prosecuting fraud in the member states. National parliaments have used the yellow card procedure, which enables them to reject proposals, to do just that, as it is a disproportionate and probably also ineffective means of combatting fraud in relation to EU money. ‘Instead of wasting its time on this no-hope project,’ says De Jong, ‘the Commission should demand a declaration of accounts from each member state, while reforming its own anti-fraud institution, OLAF, so that the quality of investigations is greatly improved.’

Errors have been made in every member state. For this reason the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom are ensuring that their own spending is checked by auditors and that the auditors’ report is appended to their accounts. These countries have put pressure on the Commission to make this obligatory for all member states, but the Commission is refusing to do so. The result is ever increasing problems in relation to the expenditure of EU money. In addition, it’s well-known that OLAF is far from always reliable in carrying out investigations that the member states can use to tackle abuses. That was clear, for example, during the enquiry into former European Commissioner John Dalli, who was suspected of tolerating corruption.

Most errors concerned EU subsidies for rural development, environmental programs, fisheries and health, where 7.9% of the accounts, almost one in every twelve, was found to be faulty. The European Union spends a total of €138.6bn annually, and the percentage of errors overall has grown from 3.9% in 2011 to 4.8% in 2012 (of which a small percentage, 0.3% is due to a new accountancy method). In 2010 the proportion was 3.7% and in 2009 3.3%. The unlawful spending for the most part involves funds where the member states are responsible for managing expenditure. Most errors are made by the funds for rural development, followed by regional policy, research and agriculture.

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