An intriguing story in the Torygraph today claims that only 7% of the Â£80 billion [tag]EU budget[/tag] is spent “correctly” – as, apparently, revealed to the [tag]European Parliament[/tag]’s budgetary control committee by the [tag]European Court of Auditors[/tag].
93% of [tag]EU[/tag] funds are wasted in the wrong places or frittered away by mistake? That’s a pretty major story, right?
So why is the Telegraph the only paper to be running with it, and then with a piece of just 350 words?
And why is there no mention of any recent meeting between the European Court of Auditors and the European Parliament’s budgetary control committee on either groups websites? Indeed, the last official meeting between the two groups would appear to have been back in October (warning – .PDF), just prior to the publication of the ECA’s annual report. At that meeting, no mention of 7% was made. Nor, that I can find, is there any mention of 7% in the annual report itself (warning – 4meg .PDF).
Where has this figure come from, exactly? Where’s the evidence? Where’s the corroboration?
The only hint is the following paragraph:
“the auditors have concluded that administration, which accounts for only seven per cent of the overall budget, was the sole area of spending for which good ‘supervisory and control systems’ were in place, with few errors found.”
The Telegraph surely haven’t made this figure up, have they? But it’s not in the annual report itself, and I can find no mention even of a meeting where such a figure might have been mentioned, let alone any other reports on this potentially incredibly damaging finding.
Can anyone actually confirm this story in any way, or is it merely a load of nonsense based on recycled, misunderstood two and a half month old reports from the October launch of the report into the 2005 budget, and slipped in merely to fill space? (I won’t be mean to the journalist whose name appears on the story by naming her here and doing untold Google damage to her career, but if she’s the same as this award-winning young hack from a few years back, is it possible that the jump up from writing articles about Clacton Pier to covering the niceties of EU budgetary administration was a bit much? Says the guy whose day job for the last three years was writing lightweight articles no doubt very similar to that Clacton Pier one…)
It is, however, perhaps also worth noting at this stage that, erm… “administration” is pretty much the only thing “the EU” actually spends money on itself – so if it’s spending that well, it’s doing the best it can. The vast majority of the EU budget is actually shipped out to the individual member states, who then administer its spending – and, as with implementation of EU directives and the like – generally do so with a high level of incompetence. This is why the budget hasn’t been signed off by the ECA for the last 12 years – the member states’ incompentence in administering the budget, not that of the EU institutions themselves.
(Hence the disaster of CAP subsidy distribution to British farmers – nothing to do with Brussels, everything to do with the piss-poor Defra, who are suitably lambasted in another part of the paper by the virulently anti-EU Christopher Booker. With agricultural spending accounting for around half the EU budget, if other countries are even slightly as shoddy as Defra in handing over the cash to Farmer Palmer, no wonder the budget’s screwed.)