Auditors target CAP in EU probe

The National Audit Office has warned
that there is a long way to go before problems with the UK spending of EU money
are resolved.

NAO chiefs are putting the final touches on its joint project with the
Treasury to fine-tune a Statement of Assurance, for UK spending of EU money.

In its document Financial management in the EU, released yesterday
and a sign of the body’s early thinking on the subject, the
NAO detailed major sticking points with
current UK spending of EU money.

Problems with common agricultural policy expenditure were top of the NAO’s
priority list. Non-maintenance of good flock registers for some livestock had
prevented the checking of some claims and in 2005/06 there were ‘considerable’
delays by the Rural Payments Agency, in making payments to English farmers.

This led to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs earmarking
£131m in its 2005/06 accounts for EU corrections arising from late or disallowed

The NAO said the delays were caused in part by changes to the development of
the IT systems and an underestimation of the work involved in mapping farmers’
land and processing each claim: ‘There is a risk that the commission will impose
a substantial correction as a result of the delays,’ the NAO added.

Edward Leigh, Conservative chairman of the Commons public accounts committee
said: ‘It is essential that national parliaments and the taxpayers within the
member states have a clear sight of how the EU funds are being spent.’

Related reading