Tuesday

30th Aug 2016

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EuridThe 2016 .eu Web Awards is a Chance to Make Dreams Come True so Vote Today !
  2. Nordic CouncilNordic-Baltic Co-operation Vital in Turbulent Times
  3. GoogleBrussels: Home of Beer, Fries, Chocolate and Google’s Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  4. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students to China for ICT Training
  5. EFASpain is Not a Democratic State. EFA Expresses Solidarity to A. Otegi and EH Bildu
  6. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  7. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  8. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  9. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Applies Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  10. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  11. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  12. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER