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EU Budget: error rate for EU funding increases for the third time in a row
The error rates in European structural funding increased for the third time in a row in 2012. At a rate of 4.8%, the European Court of Auditors has denied the statement of assurance in dealing with EU funds to the European Commission.
In 2011, the error rate was 3.9 % (2010: 3.7%, 2009: 3.3%). The main reason for the increase is in particular the negligent behaviour of EU Member States with EU structural and agricultural funds. The auditors particularly criticised illegal tendering procedures. For agricultural funds, more and frequently false indications of area sizes have been made. In addition, many farmers do not follow the environmental requirements necessary to receive EU funding.
According to the European Commission, 80% of the incorrect use is down to three Member States: Spain, Greece and Italy. For the past few years, the Commission has also found increasing error rates in the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania. As a consequence, the European Parliament Rapporteur for the budgetary discharge procedure, Markus Pieper MEP, is calling for a greater direct responsibility of the Commission in the use of EU funds. In Member States showing a problematic record, the Commission must take responsibility for the certification of the national audit bodies. There must eventually be effective financial sanctions for Member States continuously in violation of rules. Pieper has called repeatedly for "a financial correcting mechanism, including a freeze of EU funds" for States with high error rates. He said: "We have to prevent the same Member States which always have the same errors from bringing the whole funding policy of the Community into discredit. The European Commission must intervene directly here."
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The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 275 Members from 27 Member States.
<p>Since Spain alone was responsible for 58% of the correction procedures in the last funding period, the Spanish Finance Minister has been invited to the Budgetary Control Committee. It is also eagerly anticipated how the Commission will react to the demands for tougher financial sanctions. Obviously, the Commission has already failed at fulfilling its own claims. It started its term with the aim to obtain a comprehensive statement of assurance by the Court of Auditors for dealing with EU funds. For this aim, the Commission is further away than ever because of increasing error rates. The European Parliament will consider this situation in the discharge procedure for 2012. The Parliament vote on budgetary discharge to the Commission will be in April 2014.</p>
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