EU auditor: bad budget reporting increases for yet another year in 2012

BRUSSELS – The European Union’s auditor said Tuesday that bad budget reporting has increased further, resulting in several billions of euros in irregular spending of EU funds by the 27 member states and the executive Commission.

Each member of the EU contributes about 1 per cent of its gross domestic product to the EU budget, which is then invested across Europe on various projects to bolster the economy.

The European Court of Auditors said that about 4.8 per cent of the EU’s 129 billion-euro ($174 billion) 2012 budget was wrongly approved for projects. That’s up from 3.9 per cent the year earlier and 3.7 per cent in 2010.

ECA President Vitor Caldeira called on EU authorities to make sure irregular spending is cut down in the future and more is done to recover such funds.

“Europe’s citizens have a right to know what their money is being spent on whether it is being used properly,” Caldeira said.

At a time when EU institutions come under fire whenever there is a whiff of a scandal about overspending, the European Commission made clear that much of the funds under discussion Tuesday were appropriated by the EU nations themselves.

“Member states still need to step up their game. They are responsible for 80 per cent of the budget,” EU Commission spokeswoman Emer Traynor said.

“They are first in line for choosing and managing the projects and they are still not doing enough to protect EU funds,” Traynor said.

The court of auditors concurred, saying that in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, environment and development, member states often have enough information to detect and correct errors but often do not.