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The EU has not “wasted £89 billion in one year” (Express, 7 Nov)

November 12th, 2012

On 12 November the Daily Express published a letter from Algirdas Šemeta, European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud correcting their grossly misleading article (Nov, 7). Good to have our position reflected in the Daily Express –for a change, even though post-factum. Also interesting to show what of the Commissioner’s reply was left out.

Commissioner Šemeta’s letter:

“Auditors certified the accounts accurate for the fifth year running.

They said that 3.9% of EU-financed activity involving about £4 bn did not fully comply with all relevant rules. This is serious. But it does not mean the money was wasted or misspent. An “error” can be anything from a missing signature to a mistake in a tendering procedure. It does not mean fraud, which affects 0.2 % of the EU budget.  Neither does it mean the mistakes were made by “Brussels”. The auditors blamed the Member States – who manage 80% of EU funds – for the vast majority of errors, with the UK among the five with the most errors found.  The European Commission has reformed its accounting and proposed big steps to further improve management of EU funds. But those can only deliver if Member States, too, step up to the mark.”


What the Express published:

Auditors certified the accounts accurate for the fifth year running.

They said that 3.9 per cent of EU-financed activity involving about £4billion did not fully comply with all relevant rules. This is serious. But it does not mean the money was wasted or misspent. An ‘error’ can be anything from a missing signature to a mistake in a tendering procedure. It does not mean fraud. Neither does it mean the mistakes were made by ‘Brussels’. The auditors blamed the Member States – who manage 80 per cent of EU funds for the vast majority of errors.

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