Citizens believe fraud is widespread

14.01.04 @ 17:28

  1. By Honor Mahony
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BRUSSELS - A survey carried out for the EU's anti-fraud office across the current member states and the 13 candidate countries has revealed that most European citizens believe fraud is a common occurrence among governments.

The poll, conducted in autumn last year, but released today, shows that almost two thirds of Europeans (59%) think that fraud occurs against the European Union budget while just one in five (21%) of those asked believe EU institutions tackle fraud effectively.

The Belgians (67%) and the Dutch (65%) were the most likely to say that fraud occurs against the EU budget.

By contrast, the Finns were most in agreement with the statement that EU fraud occurs only rarely.

Citizens attitudes reflect the difficulties the EU has had in keeping control of its yearly budget of around 100 billion euro.

Last year, scandal erupted again as top employees in the EU statistical arm, Eurostat, were found to have siphoned off money into personal accounts.

Some 70% of EU citizens believe that the EU should co-ordinate national investigations of fraud against the EU and its budget and say that there should be more co-operation between the institutions - three quarters believe the fight against fraud should be a priority.

Most citizens feel there is a lack of information about fraud scandals with 56% saying that the media does not do a good enough job of reporting to them.

There was also a strong call - three quarters of those polled - for more information from the EU itself on the anti-fraud campaigns that it conducts.

"There is a real need for information", said a Commission spokesperson commenting on the survey results.

"We are considering launching an information campaign in the coming year", she added.