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19th Jan 2020

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the parliament has been granted full budgetary control powers and MEPs now say that the gentleman's agreement is obsolete.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

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