8th Dec 2023

Letter to deepen Eurostat scandal

The European Commission could have reacted much sooner to stop alleged corruption at its statistical arm in Luxembourg according to Stern, a German news magazine.

According to an article that appears today (28 August), the journal has proof that at least one Commissioner was knowledgeable of apparent wrongdoing at Eurostat, much earlier than first assumed, or admitted by Commissioners.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • NEIL KINNOCK - The administrative reform Commissioner was knowledgable about wrongdoings in Eurostat as early as January 2002, according to Stern (Photo: European Commission)

A letter dated 1 January 2002 and obtained by Stern apparently shows the Vice-President of the Commission Neil Kinnock referring to an investigation into the affairs of one of the sub-contractors involved in the alleged fraud at Eurostat.

The question is also, whether Commissioner Kinnock directly mislead the European Parliament Budget Control Committe, when he stated at a meeting with MEPs on 16 July: "I was not aware that there had been an internal auditors report into Eurogramme or indeed into anything about Eurostat".

No prior knowledge

The Commission claimed in July to have acted promptly after receiving two reports, (7 July) providing evidence that "serious wrong-doing on a much more widespread scale than previously thought may have taken place".

Two days later, (9 July) Mr Kinnock and his monetary affairs counterpart Pedro Solbes told the European Parliament that Eurostat offices had been raided the night before and all its files secured.

It is alleged that Eurostat officials put forward false contract cost estimates and then spend the leftover money as they pleased.

On the same day the Commission announced its decision to set up an "inquiry team" of 20 officials to look into the Eurostat case, with oversight from a group chaired by the Secretary General David O'Sullivan. He is to report on a monthly basis to the Commissioners responsible.

The Commission one week later, (16 July) came under fire from MEPs for not taking political responsibility for the fraud cases. Questions were also raised about the existence of other cases similar to the Eurostat case, which itself involves three top EU officials.

Admitting that Eurostat was his responsibility, Mr Solbes said he could not act on issues he was unaware of.

"I accept responsibility for everything I have done and for what I should have done but not for something I did not know about," Mr Solbes told the Committee in July.

The holidays are over

Now the holidays are over, the involved Commissioners can look forward to a difficult autumn.

German Christian Democrat MEP and chairman of the largest political group in the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering would like to see somebody take responsibility for the mistakes.

According to Stern the matter could mean things get a lot tougher, not least for Mr Kinnock.

Commission President Romano Prodi, who so far emerged unscathed over this affair, has been asked to appear before the European Parliament Budget Control Committee after the summer break.

After the mass resignation of the Santer Commission in 1999 on charges of nepotism and mismanagement, the current Prodi Commission had pledged 'zero-tolerance' of fraud and mismanagement.

Commission admits huge Eurostat fraud

The European Commission has come clean and admitted the huge extent of fraud in its statistical arm, Eurostat, whose offices were raided last night.

Commissioners pressed by Eurostat affair

An internal report by the Commission due by the end of September is expected to shed more light over the Eurostat fraud case - it is not likely to point fingers at any Commissioner but is expected to hit hard on officials.

Polish truck protest at Ukraine border disrupts war supplies

Disruption at the Polish-Ukrainian border by disaffected Polish truckers is escalating, potentially affecting delivery of military aid to Ukraine. A Polish request to reintroduce permits for Ukrainian drivers has been described as "a shot to the head" during war.

Brussels denies having no 'concern' on Spain's amnesty law

The Spanish government remains secretive about its negotiations with pro-independence Catalans, but claims the EU Commission has "zero concerns" about their proposed amnesty law for Catalan separatists. The EU executive denies that.


Tusk's difficult in-tray on Poland's judicial independence

What is obvious is that PiS put in place a set of interlocking safeguards for itself which, even after their political defeat in Poland, will render it very difficult for the new government to restore the rule of law.


Can Green Deal survive the 2024 European election?

Six months ahead of the EU elections, knocking an 'elitist' climate agenda is looking like a vote-winner to some. Saving the Green Deal and the EU's climate ambitions starts with listening to Europeans who are struggling to make ends meet.

Latest News

  1. How Moldova is trying to control tuberculosis
  2. Many problems to solve in Dubai — honesty about them is good
  3. Sudanese fleeing violence find no haven in Egypt or EU
  4. How should EU reform the humanitarian aid system?
  5. EU suggests visa-bans on Israeli settlers, following US example
  6. EU ministers prepare for all-night fiscal debate
  7. Spain's Nadia Calviño backed to be EIB's first female chief
  8. Is there hope for the EU and eurozone?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us