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SPENDING 2008 Auditors' report

EU spending still falls short

By Simon Taylor  -  12.11.2009 / 05:10 CET
Regional aid still the most problematic but improvements on 2007 in farm spending.

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VITOR CALDEIRA The president of the European Court of Auditoris says the level of irregularity in EU spending has decresed, but is still unacceptably high in some policy areas. EP
Fact file

‘No improvements'

Members of the European Parliament's budgetary control committee blamed member states for failing to control spending on policies under shared management and called for more simplification to make it easier for legitimate beneficiaries to get access to EU funds.

Luigi de Magistris, the Italian Liberal MEP who chairs the committee, said that there had been “no improvements” in areas where member states controlled management. He called for the “naming and shaming” of member states that have failed to respect the rules and “praise for virtuous ones”.

German Liberal MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis called for simplification of rules for spending programmes and sharing of best practice among member states.

German centre-right MEP Ingeborg Grässle called for simplification of programming for EU projects to reduce administrative errors and “naming and shaming” of those member states with the worst record for financial management. She pointed out that Germany's error rate of managing farm support was 0.3% while in Romania and Bulgaria it was more than 13%.

Grässle praised the Commission of José Manuel Barroso for reforms that reduced the proportion of the EU budget where level of errors was more than 5% from 62% to 31% of the total. She called on the Commission to move to a more targeted control system that focused on the biggest problem areas.

Responding to MEPs' questions, Siim Kallas, European commissioner for audit, said that there was already an element of naming and shaming as the Commission had highlighted problems with the structural funds in Spain, Portugal, Italy and England. He agreed with the need for simplification and said that the number of programmes should be reduced in the next budgeting period. Kallas said that clear objectives would be have to be defined for EU policies in future and monitoring and control to track that the money was being spent in line with these objectives. This made simplification such as moving to lump sum payments difficult, he suggested.

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Vítor Caldeira seeks change to spending culture.




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