Euro­pean Union mis­spent €5.5 bil­lion

> Brus­sels needs to re­gain trust of Euro­pean cit­i­zens, says watch­dog

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ -

BRUS­SELS: The Euro­pean Union (EU) mis­spent 5.5 bil­lion (RM25.5 bil­lion) in 2015, the bloc’s fi­nan­cial watch­dog said yes­ter­day, warn­ing that Brus­sels needed to re­gain the trust of Euro­pean cit­i­zens shaken by Brexit and other crises.

Badly spent funds went on pay­ing over­charged per­son­nel costs for de­vel­op­ing cloud com­put­ing ser­vices, it said.

An­other ex­am­ple in­cluded aid ear­marked for small- and medium-sized en­ter­prises in the Czech Repub­lic, Italy and Poland also ben­e­fit­ing peo­ple deemed in­el­i­gi­ble, it added.

In is­su­ing the re­port for 2015, KlausHeiner Lehne, the pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Court of Au­di­tors, said Euro­peans have lost trust in EU in­sti­tu­tions amid eco­nomic trou­bles, the mi­gra­tion cri­sis and the Bri­tish vote to leave the EU.

“In the months and years to come, a ma­jor chal­lenge for the EU will be to re­gain that trust,” Lehne said in a pre­sen­ta­tion of the re­port, stress­ing that a good start would be to en­sure funds are bet­ter spent.

“Peo­ple can­not even be­gin to trust us if they do not be­lieve we are look­ing af­ter their money prop­erly,” Lehne said.

The re­port said the so-called er­ror rate for spend­ing fell slightly to 3.8% of the EU’s 145.2-bil­lion bud­get in 2015, but was still far above the ac­cept­able level of 2.2%.

That was bet­ter than the 6.3 bil­lion that were es­ti­mated mis­spent in 2014.

The re­port said the fig­ures were not a mea­sure of fraud, in­ef­fi­ciency or waste, but an es­ti­mate of the money that should not have been paid out be­cause it did not fully com­ply with EU rules.

Spend­ing man­aged jointly by Brus­sels and mem­ber states had the same level of er­ror as that man­aged di­rectly by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the EU’s pow­er­ful ex­ec­u­tive branch, the re­port said.

The to­tal EU bud­get amounts to around 1% of EU gross na­tional in­come and around 2% of to­tal pub­lic spend­ing in mem­ber states, it said.

EU spend­ing amounts to around 285 for ev­ery ci­ti­zen in the bloc of around 500 mil­lion peo­ple. – AFP

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