Audit of the clearance of accounts procedureSigned of by the rather inapproriately named Michael Cretin. (see left)
So what do we find? Looking at it all is not well. The report covers the Agricultural budget, which makes up,
some 54 billion euro, representing close to 50% of the EU ’s paymentsQuite a lot of cash then, indeed given the fact that they don't seem to know what is where. But it is not all bad news,
The Court found that between 1999 and the end of 2008 the Commission recovered 5.582 Million euro from the Member States through its conformity clearance procedure. However, significant shortcomings still affect the implementation of the conformity clearance procedure and adversely impact on the achievement of its objective to exclude irregular payments.So that is about 1% of the budget has been clawed back, but those are strong words from an auditor. "Significant shortcomings" which "adversely impact" on its ability to stop fraud and error.
And they repeat this later,
The difficulty with this type of correction is that they do not provide an adequate basis to determine accurately the total amount of irregular payments that are due to weaknesses found in the systems. Thus, the conformity decisions are not related directly to irregular payments made to beneficiaries and do not therefore directly exclude this irregular expenditure from Community financing.and in conclusion,
In the absence of such a legality and regularity decision, the expenditure for the year in question cannot be considered as being fully cleared at the time of the discharge.Or in other words the system is riddled with fraud, corruption and error. The processes we use cannot work out one from another,. We have no idea what is happening to the money, so we better tear the system up and start afresh.
In order to better comply with the overall objective of the procedure and more fully meet the needs and expectations of the various stakeholders, the Court recommends a comprehensive review and subsequent reform of the clearance of accounts procedur
Much as Marta Andreasen was suggesting all those years ago before she was sacked by Kinnock for making those suggestions.
So what of the Commission's response to this rather anguished cry of professional pain from the ECA, who are after all the auditors?
The Commission considers the current system to function well and to achieve its overall objectives. It will, however, continue to improve its operations in practice and, where necessary, submit appropriate proposal for furher improvements to the European Parliaent and the Council for the post-2013 period.