The European Court of Auditors today presented its annual report on how EU money was spent in 2016. German EPP Group Member Joachim Zeller, Spokesman for the European Commission discharge for 2016, underlined the serious consequences of the delays in payments that the report reveals.
“The excessive delays incurred in the launching of the new programming period since 2014 should be treated with deep concern. The report shows that the EU made fewer payments in 2016 than planned. SMEs, farmers, researchers and other beneficiaries of EU funding are the ones bearing the consequences of this. As EU budgeting lacks the flexibility needed, it is likely that the piling-up of payments over the last years of the financing period will create problems for the following years”, recalled Zeller.
“The lower error rate of 3.1% is positive news and we welcome the trend, but we should always look beyond the error rate. The errors tell more about the complexity of the financial rules and regulation than of misuse and fraud. There is always room to reduce bureaucracy. The highest error rates are still found in the funds where the management is shared between the Member States and the European Commission. This shows that the Member States also need to better focus on how they spend the money.”
“The Court correctly welcomes the Commission’s better performance analysis. The effective use of taxpayers’ money is what the Budgetary Control Committee has always advocated. The Commission should also take the Court’s recommendations for simplified, accessible and user-friendly performance measurements seriously”, concluded Zeller.