Tuesday

26th May 2020

Call to scrap yearly statement on EU budget

  • Former auditors want to scrap the mandatory Declaration of Assurance attached to EU accounts (Photo: Jorge Franganillo)

The EU should scrap the annual Declaration of Assurance (DAS) on the EU's accounts prepared by the Court of Auditors, (ECA) says its former president Jan Karlsson.

Karlsson was speaking on Wednesday (30 May) during a public hearing organised by the parliament's budgetary control committee, responsible for overseeing the work of the Luxembourg-based Court of Auditors.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

President of the court between 1999 and 2001, Karlsson claimed that the exercise, which has seen the audits for the last 17 years fail to give the EU's accounts a clean bill of health, is "misunderstood" by the public who "perceived the exercise as an investigation into corruption in the European institutions."

Jules Muis, a former chief internal auditor of the European Commission, agreed the annual exercise should be scrapped in favour of an audit every five years.

"The time has come for parliament to initiate an EU inter-institutional debate to reconsider the rationale of the DAS and at least to take the annual mandatory DAS out of the ECA's mandates; possibly to replace it with a once every five years requirement," he told MEPs.

Muis added that the mandate of the court should be overhauled, calling for it to move from being "an almost exclusive auditing and accounting agency into a broader accountability agency" acting more as an independent accountability body.

The European Commission says that most irregularities in EU spending are committed at national level. Around 80 percent of EU budget spending is distributed by national governments.

Currently only four member states use a "national management declaration" which certifies that the accounts have been accurately verified, with governments blocking attempts to make it mandatory.

Earlier this month MEPs signed off the accounts of the European Commission and most EU agencies for 2010 although it refused to approve accounts prepared by the Council, the member states' secretariat.

MEPs also raised concerns about the accountability of the raft of new financial instruments being formulated by the commission and other institutions in response to the financial crisis, particularly the new EU bail-out fund, the European Stability Mechanism, which comes into force in July.

The current fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, was set up on an inter-governmental basis domiciled in Luxembourg with no parliamentary oversight, and MEPs are keen to ensure that the ESM treaty includes provisions for external audits.

Vitor Caldeira, Court of Auditors' chief, agreed that "adequate management reporting on risks and performance of such financial instruments will be key to maintaining transparency and accountability."

MEPs are also drawing up a report on the future role of the Court and its appointment procedures. Muis and Karlsson argue that ECA members should be selected on professional grounds, abolishing the one-country one-member requirement.

However, reforms to the court's governance structure require the unanimous support of the 27 EU governments.

EU agencies rebuked over spending

An MEP tasked with looking at how EU money is spent in the bloc's 24 independent agencies has caused a stir with her preliminary findings on conflicts of interest and questions about whether the agencies are useful.

Britain, Sweden and Netherlands refuse to sign off EU accounts

EU finance ministers on Tuesday rubberstamped the bloc's accounts for 2010, but Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands opposed the move, noting that auditors found too many errors for the seventeenth year in a row. MEPs can still block the accounts.

EU's smallest institution warned on 'threats, blackmail'

An EU institution known as the EESC has been given until the autumn to initiate a series of reforms to protect victims of harassment and whistleblowers, including against threats, blackmail and bribery attempts.

Ombudsman slams EU bank watchdog for 'revolving doors'

The European Banking Authority allowed its executive director to take a job at one of the world's largest financial lobbying groups. The move has been slammed by the European Ombusdman, who called it maladministration.

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  3. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic co-operation on COVID-19
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic research collaboration on pandemics

Latest News

  1. Recovery plans unveiled This WEEK
  2. EU and UK stumbling into Irish border crisis
  3. Malta patrol boat 'intimidates' capsized migrants
  4. How coronavirus might hit EU defence spending
  5. Herman Van Rompuy on power and influence in the EU
  6. EU links access to recovery fund to economic advice
  7. EU wants to halve use of pesticides by 2030
  8. Top editors alarmed by media cuts in EU and beyond

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us