EU Budget: Grazing away at billions of euros
7 November 2012
Trouw, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
"New problems with European Union spending," headlines Dutch daily, Trouw. A report on the implementation of the 2011 EU budget, published by the European Court of Auditors on November 6, notes spending "errors" of 5.2 billion euros from a total 130 billion euros, and an increase in unjustified spending, up from 3.7% in the previous year to 3.9%.
The un-justified spending was particularly prevalent in the administration of funds for rural development, the environment, fisheries and health. German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung criticises "the waste of billions of euros" and cites an example in Italy in which –
plots of land were registered as 'permanent grazing grounds' in order to obtain EU funding. However, the Auditors noted that these plots were 'totally or partially covered by forests'.
Trouw explains that most cases are due to "errors in procedure including the absence of a proper bidding process. Cases of fraud are rare," but are not inexistent. A Spanish farmer thus received a special bonus for 150 sheep. "But an inspection revealed that he kept no sheep".
While FAZ remains positive, noting that the rate of error has remained below 4% since 2009, Trouw worries that inspections by the institutions are "too scatter-shot". The paper also stresses the problem raised by "discussions about net contributors". With this mentality, the paper warns –
Each country only checks to make sure it's not overpaying without caring how the funds are attributed. [...] It is important, especially in time of crisis, that each euro be well- spent.