The EU Commission: the numbers just don’t add up

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THE European Commission is demanding – not requesting – an increase in its annual budget of another unaudited sum that will, reportedly cost the average EU family an extra £400 (€451) per year, at a time when all are being told we must tighten our belts. The Commission’s accounts haven’t been passed and signed-off by the auditors for the past 15 years.

Time after time, year after year, the auditors have refused to approve them because the numbers just don’t add up. Enormous amounts of money have gone – disappearing somewhere, into space or into a black hole – and cannot be accounted for.

 

A few years ago, when it was discovered that a French Commissioner Edith Cresson had awarded some lucrative contracts to her dentist – and I’m not making this up – there was considerable uproar and the EU Parliament, exercising about the only independent power it has, demanded the resignation of the entire Commission.

Several members did resign, but there were no prosecutions because the terms of their contracts protected them from any legal liability. In fact, today’s Commissioners still enjoy this immunity.

Neil Kinnock, failed politician like the rest, remained in his post and was appointed vice-president of the Commission and given the task of cleaning up any corruption.

He doesn’t appear to have been terribly successful, although he did make a good start, firing the accountants and auditors, and setting up a new, tighter body under the direction of Marta Andreasen, a highly qualified and respected fiscal expert.

She was charged with clearing up the whole mess, and everyone cheered – until she challenged the accuracy and validity of the next set of accounts (2001), and refused to sign them off.

So what did our intrepid Mr Kinnock do? He suspended her, and when she still refused to back-down, dismissed her. Ms Andreasen, never one to give up easily, fought her corner for some time, but in the end was forced out, leaving the accounts still un-signed.

She is now a United Kingdom Independence Party MEP for SE England, and sits on several EU financial committees, including the one overseeing European Parliamentary expenditure. She demands that balance sheets should be correct, a requirement which she admits can make her rather unpopular with others who would prefer not to make waves.

This sorry tale continues, whilst we, who have to put our hands in our pockets and pay up, can do nothing. If we were talking about the accounting procedures of some rural Parish Council it might be mildly amusing, perhaps even becoming the basis of a television sketch or comedy series, but this is real money, OUR money, misplaced and unaccounted-for by the EU Commission, and it isn’t funny.

By Jim Collins


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