The European Union’s financial watchdog has criticised three controls operated by the European Commission and EU member states, which are supposed to prevent fraud and mismanagement frittering away Brussels’ budgets.
The Court of Auditors has strongly criticised checks to ensure agricultural products that attract EU export refunds are released onto non-EU markets.
The court concluded there were ‘many cases involving the presentation of false and invalid proofs of arrival’. And it added controls on proofs offered by third countries, supervisory companies and EU embassies were also riddled with ‘serious weaknesses’.
Other critiques focus on structural funds which are spent by the EU on poorer regions and economic sectors, in a bid to raise their general level of prosperity.
One system, Regulation EC2064/97, involves national checks on at least 5% of projects co-financed by the EU. Although the court said this was ‘positive’, it added that in many cases member states were not applying the regulation correctly, in part because the commission ‘had not issued sufficient clear and timely guidance’. It added Brussels had been too slow to assess its implementation.
More problems were detected in Regulation EC 1681/94, which says how national governments should communicate information about irregularities in structural fund programmes. The court identified weaknesses in its application by the commission, national and regional governments, calling on member states to ‘review their systems’.
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