EC accounts chief: complete signoff unlikely

Any improvement on the cautious seal of approval given to the European
Commission’s accounts is doubtful under current
Court of Auditors
’ rules, according to the EC’s chief accountant.

Brian Gray said that the clean bill of health given to the EC’s accounts, the
first in 14 years, was good news, but the possibility of the auditors ever
signing off on all underlying transactions was ‘unlikely’.

The Court said that while the accounts gave a ‘fair presentation’ on the
financial position of the European Communities, it remained concerned over the
legality and regularity in some spending areas, particularly those relating to
cohesion policies and agriculture.

Gray said the 2% error rate allowed by auditors was restrictive.

‘The chances of getting it down to 2% in every aid scheme is very unlikely,’
he said.

‘It might be more appropriate if it was 0.5% for administration and maybe 5%
for emergency aid schemes.’

He added: ‘Of these schemes, 80% are managed by the member states so it is
their responsibility to check that people put in the right paperwork and respect
all the conditions.’

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