15th Nov 2018

Awards given for cleaning up Eurostat

  • Dorte Schmidt Brown - "I believe under all this to have lived up to my obligations as an employee of the EU" (Photo: Susie Belinda Kimby)

Two prominent critics of fraud and mismanagement in the EU system were awarded the Frode Jakobsen prize by the Danish June Movement this weekend.

The prize is awarded to people who have shown outstanding personal courage.

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Dorte Schmidt-Brown, a Danish employee of Eurostat, was awarded the prize because she blew the whistle on financial irregularities in the statistical arm of the EU.

Hans-Martin Tillack, the editor of the German weekly Stern in Brussels, received the prize for his series of investigative articles which helped to shed light on the eurostat affair.

I have lived up to my obligations

"My parents brought their kids up with norms and values such as honesty, one must do ones duties and refuse to do, what is wrong", Mrs Schmidt-Brown said in her acceptance speech at the awards ceremony in Copenhagen.

"I believe under all this to have lived up to my obligations as an employee of the EU and also as an individual in a democratic society. … as I have said earlier, the personal price was much, much too high, however I would do it all again", Mrs Schmidt-Brown said.

Without a strong backing from her family, she would never have gone through it, she also told the audience.

What the Dane saw three years ago appeared to be just one small part of a large Eurostat scandal, which culminated in 2003 with the removal of the heads of Eurostat.

The scandal saw millions of euro channelled into unofficial bank accounts as well as contracts tendered in an opaque manner.

Investigative journalism

The other prizewinner in the awards ceremony in Copenhagen was Hans-Martin Tillack, the editor of the German weekly Stern in Brussels.

His dogged investigative journalism and inside information very much helped to shed public light on the Eurostat affair.

Mr Tillack hit the headlines recently after he was arrested by Belgian police and his house and office were searched.

A Belgian judge ordered the searches on behalf of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), after an article about alleged fraud within the European Parliament.

The case has sparked serious questions concerning journalists' rights to protect their sources.

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