Parliament freezes EU Police College funds over dodgy accounts
08.10.10 @ 09:21
BRUSSELS - The European Parliament has frozen the funding of the UK-based European Police College over dodgy accounting at the EU agency.
Euro-deputies on Thursday refused to sign off its budget for 2008, declaring that the European Police College (Cepol), launched in 2006 to establish a network of European police officers via training courses, seminars and exchange programmes, "has yet to meet good standards of administration."
In a frank statement issued by the chamber, which has offered budget discharges so far to all other EU agencies, MEPs called the situation at the college "unacceptable".
"Repeated audits have highlighted shortcomings in the college's observance of the financial and staff Regulations, its accounting system, its management of budgets and staff, its procurement procedures and its rules governing expenditure on courses," said the parliament statement.
In particular, it is understood that expenditure on mobile phones and cars for staff at the college, located in Bramhill, a town some 70 km west of London, is "unclear".
On Tuesday, the parliament's Budget Committee froze €425,000 in funds for the college until it responds "satisfactorily" to the chamber's concerns.
In May this year, the parliament had already once postponed discharge of the college's accounts, pending submission of an action plan including a list of remedial measures.
However, "Cepol's governing board did come up with the action plan but we did not receive the specific measures and their timetable for implementation", said the centre-right French in charge of the Cepol dossier, MEP Veronique Mathieu.
"We asked for an implementation plan that was adopted by the governing board and had been subject to a professional assessment. None of these requests were met."
The European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) is also currently investigating the college.
Its former director, Ulf Goeransson, is subject to a referral from Olaf for criminal procedures.
Responding to the parliament's move, the college issued a statement "accepting" the decision.
"The European Police College's (CEPOL) Director fully accepts the decision of the EP. The refusal of the discharge was expected since the year 2008 was marked by inadequacy and ineffectiveness in the areas of budget, procurement and human resources management," reads the statement.
"This fact cast a shadow over the achievements of 40 national training institutions in the Member States and draws the attention away from the core activities and the value added to the fight against crime through education and learning."
"Cepol will concentrate on the implementation of its recently approved strategy and addressing all expectations of the parliament."
The European Police College has been under new management since February 2010 and considers the work of the Agency is now conducted in line with all applicable regulations and legitimate expectations of all stakeholders.