EurActiv: EU Budget: second-rate discharge proposed

European Commission must better control spending – Member States to sign contracts – Next European Commission must commit itself to better spending

 The European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee today combined its vote on the discharge of the EU Budget 2012 with significant criticism of the European Commission. The Commission must take greater direct responsibility especially for the control of EU agriculture and regional funds. Parliament’s Rapporteur, Markus Pieper MEP, said: “Given rising error rates in EU expenditure, the European Commission and the Council can no longer hide behind the principle of shared responsibility.”
As a precondition for future discharges of the EU budget, today’s Report, under the heading ‘political reservations’, calls for “binding bilateral agreements” between the European Commission and those Member States mostly affected. “With only 8 Member States responsible for 90% of all errors, this points towards significant deficits of national authorities in these Member States, prompting the need for the European Commission to keep a close watch on them based on the procedure established within the European Semester”, Pieper said. The Report also calls for a “self-imposed obligation of the Commission” to conduct further on-the-spot checks of recipients of EU money and national government departments.
These demands must be taken up by the next European Commission President and the Commissioners responsible right from the beginning of their next term in office, the Report said. “The European Parliament will make such definite assurances as part of the next discharge”, Pieper said.
“The Budgetary Control Committee is drawing red lines for the European Commission. We are only granting a second-rate discharge”, Pieper said. With the error rate now rising for the third year in a row to 4.8% and the EU Court of Auditors making clear that the Member States affected would have been able to remedy the errors and spend EU money correctly, the European Parliament had no other choice but to act. “If some Member States take the view that ‘it’s only EU money’, more awareness must be created for the aims and eligibility criteria of EU funds”, he concluded.
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 274 Members from 27 Member States.

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