BRUSSELS bureaucrats wasted billions of pounds through fraud and blunders
last year, the European Union’s own spending watchdogs revealed last night.
Official auditors raised questions over a colossal £89billion of spending
during 2011. And for the 18th year in a row, they refused to sign off the
EU’s annual accounts.
The damning verdict brought new fury at the soaring EU budget and added to
the pressure on David Cameron to block a further massive hike.
He faces tense talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today over the
rising bill for Brussels ahead of a crunch summit on the issue later this
In yesterday’s report, the European Court of Auditors admitted there were
“too many cases of EU money not hitting the target or being used
Confirming that the level of fraud and blunder was getting worse, the report
said that the “error rate” in EU spending rose to 3.9 per cent last year
from 3.7 per cent in 2010. In environmental schemes, fisheries and rural
development, the error rate hit 7.7 per cent.
Before asking for more taxpayers’ money, perhaps the commission should
prioritise better spending of the money it already has î
Senior Tory Euro-MP Martin Callanan
Ukip Euro-MP Marta Andreasen, a former chief accountant at the European
Commission, said: “This is the 18th year in a row the European Court of
Auditors has refused to give the EU budget a clean bill of health.
“If this report, outlining as it does the continued gross mismanagement of
EU funds, doesn’t set alarm bells ringing in Downing Street then nothing
Senior Tory Euro-MP Martin Callanan said: “Before asking for more taxpayers’
money, perhaps the
commission should prioritise better spending of the money it already has.”
And Tory MP Mark Reckless warned that the report would help increase anger
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“The continued waste and fraud will accentuate the concerns MPs have over
increased spending,” he said.
Tory eurosceptics praised a top Brussels eurocrat yesterday for his
“honesty” in saying Britain must pay more to the EU or leave.
EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, who backs an 11 per cent budget
boost, said “We can’t finance more Europe with substantially less money.”
Asked if he was referring to Britain’s stance, he said: “Of course. Either
they see their future in the EU in the long term or they don’t.”
Tory MP Douglas Carswell responded: “It’s good to hear from an honest
eurocrat that it is a choice to stay in and pay more or to get out. I wish
our ministers would show the same candour.”
Brussels chiefs claimed EU member nations were largely to blame for the
budget waste. Algirdas Semeta, EU Commissioner for taxation and tackling
fraud, said: “A little effort to control projects and retrieve misused funds
could go a long way.”
HOW THEY WASTED OUR TAX
• More than £160,000 was paid to a scheme in Lombardy, Italy, to build a
farm with a lab for processing and a terrace for drying fruit. It was found
to be a private dwelling.
• An aid agency paid £4million to itself for “technical assistance”.
• A farmer was granted a special premium for 150 sheep. Auditors found he
had no sheep.
• In Italy and Spain, farmers were paid for keeping “permanent pasture” that
turned out to be dense forests.
• A farmer paid to carry out appropriate orchard management techniques
failed to even prune his trees.