Monday

24th Apr 2017

Environment agency and Council fail MEPs' budget test

  • Environment agency manager Jacqueline McGlade is under fire for mismanaging EU funds (Photo: EEA)

MEPs dealing with budgetary checks on Wednesday (26 September) refused to give a clean bill of health to the European Environment Agency after its director gave "contradictory" explanations on how she managed EU funds.

The anti-fraud office is also investigating the Copenhagen-based office.

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In March, MEPs voted to suspend the procedure on signing off the 2010 accounts for EU three agencies citing lack of transparency and alleged conflicts of interests.

The two other agencies - dealing with food safety and authorisation of medicines - were given the green light on Wednesday.

But the director of the environment agency, Jacqueline McGlade, has given apparently conflicting information to the parliament about her links with an environmental NGO hosted on the premises of her building in Denmark.

Research trips to the Caribbean and a "green facade" for the site - plants worth €300,000 - were also paid out of EU money without proper tenders.

"It is a serious signal for both the executive director and the management board that they have to assume responsibility for the way the director managed the EU funds," Romanian MEP Monica Macovei, who drafted the parliament's position, told this website.

"The contradictions in the executive director's correspondence with the parliament raise concern about the capacity to ensure the correct management of EU funds and to be accountable," she added.

A final vote by all 754 members of the parliament is expected in October.

Council keeps its books closed

MEPs also refused to sign off the 2010 accounts for the Council of the European Union, where ministers and EU leaders meet.

Council services and management is protected by a "gentleman's agreement" dating back to the 1970s that the two institutions would not look into each other's books.

In the meantime, the parliament has been granted full budgetary control powers and MEPs now say that the gentleman's agreement is obsolete.

They want answers to several questions on the Council's budget, including the financing of its new headquarters in the Rue de la Loi in Brussels' EU district and costs relating to setting up the EU's new diplomatic service.

It is the second year in a row that the Parliament is refusing to sign off the Council's accounts.

The final vote on the Council will also take place in October.

EU agency under scrutiny for Caribbean trips

MEPs have questioned why the EU environment agency held staff training in the Caribbean and Mediterranean and spent €300,000 on decorating its headquarters with plants.

Eurozone bank needs more scrutiny, says NGO

Transparency International says eurozone's central bank is not subject to "appropriate democratic scrutiny" and should have no say on EU bailout projects.

Analysis

From Bratislava to Rome: Little more than a show of unity

The so-called Bratislava process of reflection for the EU came to an end on Saturday, but there were few tangible results that citizens could take away from the soul-searching. Despite that, unity among the EU-27 has been maintained.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Controlling the right of repeal

There was a distinct air of finality about Sir Tim Barrow's personal delivery of the Article 50 letter in Brussels – it certainly marks the end of an era.

Be fair in Brexit talks, EU tells UK

European Council chief Tusk sent draft guidelines to member states. He said the EU wants "fairness" and then warned against using security cooperation as bargaining chip.

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