Margarida Vasconcelos: MEPs voted in favour discharging the EU budget

The European Parliament is the discharge authority. Each year it must close the financial year on the basis of the recommendation of the Council and the Statement of Assurance (DAS) provided by the Court of Auditors. By granting a discharge the European Parliament approves the implementation of the budget in respect of the relevant financial year. Hence, the MEPs declare that a particular EU institution or agency has spent EU taxpayers’ money in line with EU rules that govern the implementation of the EU budget. It is well known that the European Court of Auditors for the 19th year in a row has not given the EU’s accounts a clean bill of health. Yet, the European Parliament has recently given discharge to the Commission for implementation of the EU’s budget for 2012.

The European Court of Auditors’ report on the implementation of the 2012 EU Budget, as previous reports, showed that there are serious errors and mistakes in the EU monitoring and accounting system, which is inadequate. The EU spending continues to be affected by “material error.” The Court has estimated the error rate for payments from the €138.6 billion 2012 EU budget at 4.8%. This means that €6.6bn, of which British taxpayers paid £800 million, was spent against EU rules governing the spending.

The MEPs signed off the European Commission's accounts for 2012 with political reservations over the high error rate in agriculture and regional policy spending by member states. Markus Pieper MEP, the rapporteur, stressed “Financial management in two well-delineated policy areas must be further improved, that is why we gave discharge with political reservations, giving a yellow card to the Commission".

However, it is important to note that the Commission, since 2000, has been working on a reform program to improve the management of the EU budget. It adopted an Action Plan to address the recommendations of the Court on how the Commission should improve its supervisory role of management and control systems in Member States for structural actions. Nonetheless, nothing has changed and, in the meantime taxpayers' money is being spent in a system that does not work.

The European Parliament granted a budget discharge to almost all the EU institutions and agencies. It has postponed the discharge for the Council of Ministers and of the electronic communications regulatory body (BEREC) for the 2012 budget.

Every year the MEPs voted to postpone signing off the Council’ accounts due to the Council refusal to provide information on them.

There is an endless list of EU agencies, most of them are useless and a waste of taxpayers money. But, the European Parliament signed off the 2012 accounts of most of the 31 EU agencies. It has not endorsed the 2012 accounts of the electronic communications regulatory body (BEREC). The MEPs decided to postpone the discharge for this agency due to “shortcomings in budgetary management.”

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