PracticeAuditEU’s accounts qualified for 11th year running

EU's accounts qualified for 11th year running

European Court of Auditors points finger at member states rather than Brussels

The European Court of Auditors has qualified the EU’s annual accounts for the
eleventh year running.

The European Union’s financial watchdog today repeated concerns about the
accuracy of the books in the 2004 budget, totalling nearly £70bn, and refused to
give a formal ‘Statement of Assurance’ about their validity.

The auditors acknowledged European Commission’s efforts to bring accounting
reforms into effect, and pointed the finger at the member states themselves
rather than Brussels – as some 80% of EU spending is conducted by national and
regional authorities.

Last week, chancellor Gordon Brown chaired talks between EU finance
ministers, and made it clear he thought it was up to the auditors to find ways
to improve the procedures for clearing the accounts.

However, Conservative MEP James Elles said in The Independent that
the auditors’ refusal to clear the books could become a permanent feature of the
EU unless member states faced up to their responsibilities and ensured
euro-funds were better accounted for.

He reportedly said Britain’s EU presidency had been a missed opportunity to
tackle the problem.

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