Monday 10 November 2008

Out now: European Court of Auditors Report for 2007 - supplemented

There it is: The European Court of Audiors report for 2007 (PDF). I won't be able to give a full account of the 300 pages, but let's have a look on some specifics.

According to the press release, the area most affected by misspending is social cohesion:
As in previous years cohesion policies (42 billion) are the area most affected by errors. Following the Court's sample estimate at least 11 % of the value of reimbursed cost claims should not have been paid out.
If I understand this correctly, then the European Union is spending more than 4.5 billion Euros to much on its social cohesion policy. Or in other words: A lot!

One of the reasons for misspending seem to be overly complicated legal and administrative provisions:
The Court also calls for due consideration to be given to simplification - for example in rural development and research. Well designed rules that are clear to interpret and simple to apply decrease the risk of error.
This is also the main point that the President of the Court of Auditors, Vítor Caldeira (CV), stresses in his speech: He asks for further simplification.

But regarding simplification, I would like to point out that neither the report, nor the press release, nor the published speech by the Court's president are very citizen-friendly - neither in terms of presentation nor in terms of language.

What do we learn? We learn that some things are better than in the past; we learn that the EU is spending too much money in several areas; we learn that the control mechanisms can be improved; and we also learn that a balance between efforts and results of control has to be maintained. Interesting, but rather empty.

All in all, the report lacks an executive summary, and it lacks a clear presentation of past shortcomings and necessary future changes.

Is anyone expecting citizens or smaller non-governmental organisations to comb through this technical language? - You may ask why? Well, maybe because it concerns all of us, and maybe because a simplification of the presentation would ease our understanding of how the European Union and its institutions are (not) working.

But maybe, this is yet just another administrative document, and we should not care about it too much, right?!


The EUobserver article covering the reports brings some interesting voices, inter alia from Commissioner Kallas, that demand a tougher stand of the Commission towards the member states when it comes to the mismanagement of funds.

Related articles:
- Daniel Hannan: "EU budget rejected"
- Me: EU budget committee criticises EU agencies
- Me: Boring: The European Ombudsman and his 2007 report

By the way: If you would like to be the next Secretary General of the Court of Auditors - now is the time!