31st Oct 2020

Dutch finance minister not to approve 2006 EU budget

Dutch finance minister Wouter Bos is set to vote against approval of the EU's 2006 budget at Tuesday's meeting of EU finance ministers.

Errors found by the European Court of Auditors across some 61 percent of expenditures of European monies designated for national projects caused a stir in the Dutch lower house, reports the NRC Handelsblad newspaper.

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  • EU finance ministers will meet in Brussels on Tuesday (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

"That is shocking," said Christian Democrat MP Frans de Nerée tot Babberich, according to the Dutch daily, "We're talking here about well over 61 billion euros," as the budget for 2006 was €102 billion.

Nonetheless, Mr Bos, who wants member states to properly account for the spending of European funds, is unlikely to be supported by many of his colleagues at Tuesday's meeting.

Anti-fraud commissioner Siim Kallas last year managed to get European governments to agree to provide evidence of how the monies were spent.

Member states will indeed supply annual summaries of the available audits and declarations, according to draft documents prepared ahead of the Ecofin meeting, reports the Financial Times, but some member states feel that Kallas' agreement only refers to money for projects launched last year, not previously existing ones.

Dutch Labour Party and Socialist Party MPs also called the situation "unacceptable", a message Mr Bos is to take to the meeting.

The Court of Auditors report shows however that the Netherlands itself runs financial risks due to its own shortcomings in the implementation of projects using European regional subsidies, with the country possibly having to pay back the EU millions of euros.

A qualified majority of member states is needed to sign off the accounts, making the Dutch position symbolic but unlikely to have a practical effect without the support of other capitals.

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