Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Even the EU's auditors are dodgy

Leigh Phillips at EUobserver has picked up an important breaking story.

The Court of Auditors is often classed as one of the better EU institutions. I rexcall one press conference with them which they opened with a disclaimer that they were still an EU institution, despite how critical they were being (that ws about the CFP). They are also the institution which has famously refused to sign off the EU's accounts for the last 15 odd years.

So it is quite something when one of their members (ex-member to be fair) Maarten Engwirda lays the boot in one sits up and listens.
"There was a practice of watering down if not completely removing criticism," Mr Engwirda told the paper. "I wanted to write a book, I was so sick of it all."

In particular, Mr Engwirda, a former politician with and leader of the the social liberal D66 party, which is staunchly pro-EU and federalist, accuses his French and Italian colleagues, amongst others of this type of activity.

But he also speaks of "heavy pressure" from then anti-fraud commissioner Siim Kallas in 2005 for the court to relax its standards.
Engwirda who resigned from the Court on the 1st of January, I suspect so that he could go public on these allegations is no pushover.Despite that course he qualifies it, by saying that all this has changed now... but he would say that wouldn't he. He has a pension to worry about.

What is going to be interesting is to see the position of Siim Kallas after this. If Mr Engwirda has proof of Kallas's pressure then surely he should resign?

Marta Andreasen former Commission chief accountant and UKIP MEP said,

"These comments are no surprise to me. They merely echo the treatment I recieved as Chief Accountant of the European Commission. I experienced constant pressure to conceal the truth about EU expenditure and swallow any criticism. I witnessed the arm twisting of the Auditors each time they attempted to reveal the failures in the EU accounting and control systems. I myself suffered the Auditors lack of support when I stood up in defence of European taxpayers. As I have been repeating for the last 9 years the European Court of Auditors is not an independent body and their opinion, on the basis of which the EU expenditure is approved, cannot therefore be relied upon. This arrangement has allowed massive irregularities and waste in EU funding and I have absolutely no hope that this situation will ever change".

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