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Brussels sums right at last

26 Nov 08

The European Commission has had its annual accounts passed by the European Court of Auditors, after 14 years of attempts

Auditors said the accounts were a “fair presentation” of the Commission’s financial position, but said there were unacceptable spending errors in all but two of the seven policy areas covered under the €114 billion (£93 billion) budget.

Poor tender procedures, dodgy expenditure declarations and insufficient local checking caused concern.

When it came to regional policy, social affairs and rural development auditors exposed errors in at least 11 per cent of spending. Rural development was particularly inaccurate. Agriculture has the single biggest budget at €51 billion (£42 billion), and had mistakes in up to 5 per cent of its spending decisions.

 

The auditors recommended the Commission make better use of corrective measures such as payment suspensions and financial recoveries, and that its rules needed simplification.

The passed accounts are a victory for the EC’s Estonian vice-president Siim Kallas, who as head of administrative affairs, audit and anti-fraud swore to get the accounts a clean bill of health by the time the Commission’s mandate ended in 2009. They may also be some solace to Marta Andreasen, the chief accountant sacked by Kallas’ predecessor, Neil Kinnock, for going public with lax EC accounting in 2002.

EU auditors have been struggling with the Commission since they were obliged to provide a declaration of assurance in 1994.

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European Commission | accounts

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