UK seeks less detailed auditing of EU programmes

The British government is opposing widespread individual transaction checks
within European Union (EU) funded programmes, by the EU’s Court of Auditors.

The comments have come as the European Commission is pressing for member
states to release more detail about EU-funded programmes that are managed
nationally, such as agricultural subsidies.

Britain, however, appears to want less detailed checks, not more. In comments
on the most recent Court of Auditors annual report (for the EU’s 2004 accounts),
the UK government has proposed that EU audits be ‘more as system and
benefit-cost audits rather than transaction-tracing audits’.

It continued: ‘Transaction tracing audits bring up specific timed errors,
often of minor amounts, which when extrapolated can make it look as though the
whole programme is in error. These errors are also often corrected later…’

France has similar criticisms, although it avoids recommending a solution,
saying of the Court’s sampling methods: ‘General conclusions are drawn from
findings relating to a very limited number of isolated operations, many of which
involve very small amounts’.

And Germany questioned the cost-effectiveness of EU spending assessments,
period. It proposes an audit of the audits: ‘The cost of management and control
systems in member states should be assessed by the [European] Commission to
ensure that cost is proportionate to the results obtained.’

Denmark called for more cooperation between the Court and national supreme
audit institutions, a line supported by the EU financial watchdog itself, which
agreed there should be an ‘appropriate balance between costs and benefits’ in
statements of assurance.

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