By Marta Andreasen | Related VIDEO • 4.6 billion Euro of payments from the EU budget – taxpayers' money – are ‘irregular’ according to a report released today by the European Court of Auditors. I sat in Committee this morning (10.11.2011) where the report was presented.
This figure equates to around 25% of the UK’s annual contribution to EU coffers.
The Court of Auditors Report on the 2010 budget shows that ‘irregularities’ – or possible fraud, in layman’s terms – are on the rise from their previous 2009 report.
The combined error rate for payments for 2010 is 3.7% or 4.6 Billion Euro.
Cohesion funding, which includes structural funds (or aid) to countries, of which Greece received some 60 Billion since joining the Euro, was worst affected with an error rate of 7.7% (3.6 Billion Euro). Next, Agriculture, the largest recipient of payments from the EU budget, had an error rate of 2.3% (1.6 Billion Euro).
Most alarmingly, in the samples used by the Court of Auditors around 50% showed ‘errors’. Additionally, the auditors raised the alarm over the lack of supervision on advance payments which they consider to be out of control.
Despite repeated assurances from the European Commission and pressure from the European Council, the way the EU makes payments from its Budget is getting worse not better. This should send alarm bells ringing across Member States governments. However, I fear there is a business as usual mentality, where ‘irregularities’ are tolerated despite the huge amounts of money involved that cannot be properly accounted for.
This mentality is not helped by the terminology used by the Auditors who refer to the payments being ‘partially effective’. Such contrived language is an insult to the taxpayer whose money has effectively disappeared as the Auditors cannot get to the bottom of where it has gone.
In any private enterprise heads would roll and the shareholders would demand change at the top. Doubtless the Commission will again try to trumpet these figures as a success. They are anything but.