Italy is singled out for its “exemplary” cooperation with the EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF, in spite of logging the most new cases under investigation. Belgium is criticised as sluggish. Yet the top fraud-buster points the sternest finger at Bulgaria. It must redouble its efforts against corruption involving EU funds.
Franz Hermann Bruener, presenting an annual report on irregularities, concentrates on the latest countries to join the bloc: “Bulgaria has a long way to go compared to Romania. But let me just say… we are a service convinced that we can move things forward… as long as others try to as well.”
The EU’s anti-fraud commissioner urged all the capitals to provide better information when they suspect fraud cases – and faster. The overall level of suspected misuse remained largely unchanged last year compared with 2005. Financial irregularities reached above the billion-euro mark, with suspected fraud accounting for some 320 million euros. Examples include national governments giving EU aid to farmers, or for transport infrastructure projects that did not meet EU criteria.