EP: Zero Tolerance to Misuse of Community Funds

In its report on the discharge for implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2007, the Committee on Budgetary Control (CBC) of the European Parliament addresses in particular the management of EU funds in Bulgaria and Romania.

The report notices that the commissioner for enlargement failed to provide the CBC with sufficiently detailed information about the scale of the shortcomings in good time. The CBC claims that the lack of reliable control systems and the management problems encountered pose a risk to European taxpayers’ money, but acknowledges the efforts made in the meantime to overcome these problems.

CBC recommends to the European Commission (EC) to step up technical assistance to Member States lacking the necessary administrative capacity. At the same time MPs support the suspension of funding by the Commission in cases where a Member State’s management systems fail to function as required. The report further encourages the Commission to formulate a range of measures that might be used to exert pressure on a Member State, “should this prove necessary”.

In a very important development, CBC calls for quarterly EC reports on the administration of the EU funds for Bulgaria and Romania. The MPs believe that European institutions should apply the principle of zero tolerance in connection with cases of misuse of Community funds.

There are two paragraphs specifically focused on Bulgaria. In the first the CBC calls on OLAF to forward to it the findings of its enquiries concerning Bulgaria. In the second, the committee agrees with the Commission that all actions and measures recently taken by Bulgaria need to be followed up by credible, structural corrective actions and a fundamental reform of all structures involved in the management of EU funds, ensuring the correct and timely absorption of funds and a high level of transparency. CBC calls in this context on the Commission to closely monitor the implementation of the various action plans submitted to it by Bulgaria, and to keep Parliament informed thereof.

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