Rural Europe, tax police patrol farm buildings built fraudulently with EU subsidies… sound familiar? It is to the European Court of Auditors. And yet, for the second year running the EU annual accounts have received a clean bill of health. That is official. Faulty payments have been halved since 2004, by improvements in EU financial management, the auditors said.
But the court still found unacceptably high errors in rural development spending and cohesion funds (for poorer member states). Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira, President of the European Court of Auditors, said: “Cohesion, the second largest policy group representing almost a third of the budget, remains the area most affected by error. The Court estimates that at least 11% of the total amount reimbursed in this area should not have been reimbursed.” That meant some 2.5 billion euros. A senior Commissioner said the court’s report vindicated accounting improvement efforts. As for errors in payments made to EU regions, the Commission promised to “claw back the money each time national administrations do not manage to spend it correctly”.