Public Sector – European auditors worry PAC

The government has been told to urge the European Commission to improve the powers and track record of the European Court of Auditors.

The powerful Public Accounts Committee said it was seriously concerned last week that, for the third year running, the court declined ‘to provide a positive assurance on the legality and regularity of Community payments because of the large number of errors identified.’

The committee was disappointed to find that standards of financial management and accounting across the community are still too low and that there is evidence of waste, error and fraud in the community’s expenditure programmes.

In a report on the court’s 1996 annual statement, the all-party committee says: ‘We endorse the Comptroller and Auditor General’s conclusion that the commission has some way to go before it attains the quality of financial reporting expected of public-sector financial statements, such as government accounts in the UK.’

The PAC also urged the government to press the commission to produce ‘clear and simplified financial statements’ and to promote ‘sound financial management of community funds’ while it holds the European Union presidency until the end of next month.

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