European Court of Auditors is right: change of direction needed when it comes to EU expenditure accounts

10 November 2015

European Court of Auditors is right: change of direction needed when it comes to EU expenditure accounts

This year the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has once again declared itself unable to approve the accounts of expenditure from the European Union’s various funds. The grounds for the Auditors’ decision are that the proportion of errors – 4.4% - was far above the acceptable margin of 2%. The ECA is, furthermore, concerned about the member states’ capacity to make effective use of the funds. Commenting on the matter, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong says: ‘It’s crazy that new airports have been built simply to get the money spent. In only 50% of projects was an investigation carried out into whether there was any need for the facility. No wonder that only one in three of the airports built with EU money has proved profitable. In every project the need which it meets should be clearly stated, along with the added value gained from EU financing. In particular the question as to whether a project would be realised without such European support is asked far too infrequently. This is a matter of taxpayers’ money. A results-based approach could save a great deal of costs.’

De Jong added that ‘every year the European Commission and the member states promise improvement. This can’t go on. In the evaluation of the multi-annual budget which will take place next year, during the six months when the Netherlands holds the EU’s rotating presidency, this sluicing around of money will be stopped. Better direction of the deployment of the funds will mean better monitoring of them. In addition, the added value offered by EU projects must be explained and the results subject to improved assessment. Member states which repeatedly offend must be subject to financial penalty. And lastly all member states should, just as the Netherlands, for example, does now, depose a declaration from their national accountants. Only with a radical package of measures can the situation improve.’

The SP has for years been fighting the practice under which all member states profit from every fund, as De Jong explains: ‘The fewer the member states which gain from a fund, the better the European Commission can monitor compliance with the rules. It’s ridiculous that the Netherlands first of all has to transfer loads of money to Brussels, then part of that money is sent back via the European funds.’

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