Friday

24th Mar 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  2. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  3. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  4. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  5. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  6. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  8. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  9. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  10. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  11. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  12. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted

Latest News

  1. Birthday wishes to the European Union
  2. MEPs set out to give posted workers equal pay
  3. Hohe Cyber-Bedrohung für Frankreichs Wahlen
  4. 'No zero terror risk', EU security commissioner warns
  5. UN could step in where EU fails in child migrant protection
  6. May: London attacker was known to the police
  7. Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU
  8. Poland unlikely to face EU discipline on rule of law