In a statement the auditors said: ‘We have again qualified our opinion of the accuracy of the accounts and refuse to provide assurances of the legality and regularity of payments in most areas of the budget.’
This damning verdict comes just days after European Commission whistleblower Marta Andreasen, the chief accountant at the EC, currently suspended on full pay after alleging fraud at the commission, was voted 2003 Personality of the Year, by Accountancy Age readers.
The auditors criticised the cash accounting system used by the EU for its €100bn budget and called for a more comprehensive system that included assets and liabilities.
Furthermore they questioned whether 90% of the budget was being dished out to the right people at the right time.
In particurlar, the auditors focused on the EU’s agricultural policy, where payments ‘were affected by significant errors which mostly occurred at the level of the final beneficiary?.
It also warned that there were ‘persistent deficiencies in the control systems operated by member states, who administer the bulk of the funds’.
And this could only be more problematic with enlargement of EU next year, the report warned, as it called for ‘fundamental reform’.
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