Dutch refuse to sign off EU accounts

The Dutch finance minister is set to refuse to sign off the EU’s accounts
over concerns that that national governments are not taking enough
responsibility for the European money they spend.

Although auditors found huge errors last year in four-fifths of money spent
nationally, Dutch finance minister Wouter Bos still faces being outvoted at a
gathering of other European finance ministers who meet tomorrow to pass the 2006
budget of £80bn.

The European Court of Auditors, financial watchdog of the EU, has qualified
the accounts of the organisation for 12 years running. It also found that 12% of
the £24bn regional fund budget had been paid out erroneously in 2006. While only
a fraction may have been misused, the states of the EU were unable to prove that
they had sent the money to the right recipients, who would have included farmers
on agricultural subsidies.

Bos, who has the support of the European Commission and parliamentarians,
plans to pressure states into showing proof that money has been well spent. The
Commission has further threatened to suspend billions of euros worth of payments
or take legal action if this proof is not forthcoming.

Further reading:

EU sensitive on audit ‘qualification’

EC launches crackdown on funding

Brussels sweats on court’s accounts verdict

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