They are worth having because almost every EU citizen, business, public authority or non-governmental organisation is directly or indirectly concerned.
In this regard, I find the newly published Commission Communication
"More or less controls? Striking the right balance between the administrative costs of control and the risk of error"a very good start and probably the right way to go.
This seems to be the beginning of a discussion about what is a "Tolerable Risk of Error" (TRE) when it comes to the spending of EU funds, and while this communication "just" covers the fields of "Research, energy and transport" and the "European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development" it is foreseen to continue this exercise in other policy areas, too.
The big question raised in the communication is whether it is worth spending more money on controlling how EU funds are used when the amount of money and effort you have to invest to do so exceeds the the financial gains you have.
The conclusion is, if I read the document correctly, that a certain margin of error should be formally introduced that is somewhere between 2 and 5% because there a balance between effectiveness of control and efficiency of administrative costs spent seems to be reasonable.
More background information is in the two accompanying Commission Secretariat documents SEC(2010)640 (on the rural development policy area) and SEC(2010)641 (on the research, energy and transport policy area). As so often, both documents are not yet available in the respective PRE-LEX procedure, so thanks to the Council register for making it public first!
According to the agenda of last week's Commission meeting, Commissioners Semeta (Audit and Anti-Fraud; on the picture) and Lewandowski (Financial Programming & Budget) are responsible for this process.
I suppose it'll be interesting to follow this process and to listen to the upcoming debate between control freaks and laissez-faire freaks in the Council, the European Parliament and all around in the stakeholder community.
Picture: © European Parliament (flickr) / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0