Tuesday

19th Nov 2019

Auditors reject EU spending 18th year in a row

  • Most errors in using EU funds were found in agriculture (Photo: freefotouk)

The EU's top auditing body has for the 18th year in a row said there are too many errors in how EU money is spent, particularly in subsidies going to farmers and fishermen.

"A farmer was granted a special premium for 150 sheep. On inspection the European Court of Auditors found that the beneficiary did not have any sheep," the annual report on EU spending released on Tuesday (6 November) said in a typical case.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The auditors also found an alleged fruit processing factory built with EU aid to the tune of €0.2 million which turned out to be a private residence in northern Italy.

Based on such on-the-spot tests, the auditors concluded that spent EU money in 2011 has an overall error rate of 3.9 percent, which is above the threshold needed for a clean bill of health to be recommended by the court.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission on Tuesday said the error rate does not mean the money is lost, because when fraud or irregularities are detected, the EU claims the money back from the member state.

Still, the report is welcome ammunition for spending hawks among member states who want to contribute less to the next EU budget, as negotiations are enter the final week ahead of a special summit on this topic.

"We all need confidence in how EU money spent. Today's EU Court of Auditors report undermines credibility of EU's financial management," the British representation to the EU wrote on its Twitter page.

The auditors' report is not binding on the European Parliament, the EU institution which signs off the EU's accounts year by year.

Still, political groups reacted according to national and ideological lines.

The British-dominated Conservatives and Reformists group said it made "risible" the EU commission's call for a five-percent rise in the next seven-year budget.

A dedicated commissioner for budgetary control was needed, British Conservative MEP Martin Callanan said - for instance by splitting the current portfolio which pools several tasks - once Croatia joins next year and has the right to put forward an extra commissioner.

The Socialist Group in the European Parliament took a milder stance, even though it noted it is the 18th year in a row the auditors find too many errors.

"We need to make sure that EU money is spent more effectively. But we won't achieve this goal by cutting spending. We need better controls," German Social-Democrat MEP Jens Geier said in a press statement.

EU accounts and the Brussels blame game

Publication of the European Court of Auditors' annual report on EU accounts brings predictable accusations of fraud and mismanagement.

New commissioners clear 'conflict of interests' hurdle

The parliament's legal affairs committee narrowly gave the green light to France's Thierry Breton - with some MEPs critical of the candidate's links to IT firm Atos. Meanwhile, Brussels still waits for a UK commissioner.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary's new commissioner approved by MEPs
  2. Balkan coal power plants fail to meet emissions targets
  3. Belarus vote: zero opposition candidates elected
  4. Germany: Tehran should hold dialogue with protesters
  5. US ex-diplomat: Trump's 'historical mistake' on EU
  6. France's MoDem finance director indicted on EP funds
  7. Cyprus hopes for reunification talks in December
  8. Russian link to €406m crypto disappearance

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.

Column

Why the EU can't do security and defence

What if the EU can't guarantee European security? In times when US physical presence does not make up for its mental absence, the question got urgent.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us