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2010 Discharge: A story of waste and dodgy accounting
Date 30/03/2012 13:36  Author webmaster  Hits 2587  Language Global

By Marta Andreasen MEP

In a clear snub to Chancellor George Osborne who refused to sign off the EU budget for 2010, the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee officially approved the EU accounts in their entirety on Monday (26/03). 

The Committee, responsible for scrutinising irregularities and ensuring financial probity did this despite the fact that €4.6 billion of payments from the EU budget – taxpayer’s money – are ‘irregular’ according to the European Court of Auditors.

The Court of Auditors Report on the 2010 budget showed that ‘irregularities’ – or possible fraud in layman’s terms – were on the rise from their previous 2009 report.

The combined error rate for payments for 2010 is 3.7% or €4.6 billion.

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). Next Agriculture, the largest recipient of payments from the EU budget, had an error rate of 2.3% (€1.6 billion).

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.

I sit on this Committee, and the actions of the majority of MEPs who voted for the discharge are simply an insult to taxpayers whose money has effectively disappeared as the Auditors cannot get to the bottom of where it has gone

Before my career in politics I spent many years in the private sector. I can tell you that heads would roll and the shareholders would demand change at the top if such large ‘irregularities were found’ . Not in the European Parliament. Waste and dodgy accounting are tolerated. The Chancellor’s move was a half-hearted protest. He should now take decisive action and stop sending money to Brussels immediately.

Stop press….stop press…stop press…stop press.

Just yesterday it merged that the head of the EU’s environment agency used taxpayers money for training her staff in the Caribbean and Mediterranean and for spending around €300,000 on plants to spruce up her agency’s offices in Denmark it emerged today (picture).

Jacqueline McGlade – the British scientist in charge of the agency used €30,000 of EU funds for “staff training sessions” in Caribbean and Meditteranean projects managed by an NGO, EarthWatch, whose advisory board she sat on.

The figures came up in Parliament’s Budgetary Control. In a report discussed by the Committee, the agency states EarthWatch were paid “a total of €33,791.28 for 29 separate staff training sessions in different locations,” including the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

The ‘green facade’ project – putting plants around the exterior of the offices – in Copenhagen totaled around 300,000 Euro. The budget priorities for 2010 for the agency had already been decided so the money used would have been diverted from other projects – a breach of the rules.

I voted against the entire discharge of the EU budget for 2010 given that €4.6 billion of it was not properly accounted for. Here is further proof that I was right to do so.