Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

'EU accounts are a disgrace - if it were a company shareholders would demand resignations'

'If the EU was a private company shareholders would be hammering at the door of the head office demanding resignations'
'If the EU was a private company shareholders would be hammering at the door of the head office demanding resignations'

If the European Union was a private company, the shareholders would be hammering at the door of the head office demanding the instant resignation of the Directors and the Board on the grounds of serious financial impropriety.

In fact were an auditor to refuse to give a clean bill of health to a set of company accounts it would potentially be the cause of police investigations, a run in the confidence of the public in the firm and a slump in the share price.

If it were a publicly-owned enterprise there would be demands for Ministerial resignations and independent inquiries.

Yet for 19 straight years the European Court of Auditors has declined to give their overall approval to the accounts of the European Union.

The report concluded that there was a 3.9% margin of error in the figures published by the EU: a figure that was worse than the previous year. 3.9% may not sound like a great deal, but given the scale of the budgets involved in the European Union it actually amounts to in excess of 6.7 billion euros.

That is an enormous amount of money in anyone’s language and it is nothing short of an institutional disgrace that such a set of circumstances should have pertained for nearly two decades.

In a time of economic uncertainty across Northern Ireland and the rest of Europe, the report by the Court of Auditors highlights the EU elite’s blatant disregard for how they spend UK and other member-state taxpayer’s money.

The arrogance of the Commission is to be found in their public commentary after the publication of the nineteenth report by the Court of Auditors refusing to sign off on the accounts.

Instead of true and abject remorse followed by resignations as one would expect, the Commission actually had the audacity to welcome the findings of the report. Such grotesque waste is not a cause for celebration.

As an MEP, I have constantly highlighted these completely unacceptable failings and the waste of taxpayer's money.  I have consistently refused to vote in favour of granting discharge to any part of the EU's accounts and will continue to do so until a positive statement of assurance is received from the auditors.

Unfortunately, based on the previous track record we are a long way away from ever seeing the EU accounts approved. In the meantime, vast amounts of our money will continue to disappear into this black hole. Running scandals such as this are proof positive of the need for a fundamental and radical overhaul in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. 


 

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