The European Parliament’s budgetary control committee will adopt its draft report today by Jorgo Chatzimarkakis (FDP, Germany) proposing to grant discharge to the European Commission for the 2009 budgetary year. Nevertheless the report is highly critical of the management of certain common policies such as cohesion where Member States feel immune from responsibility for the handling of EU funds despite being jointly responsible for the management of structural funds and selection of projects.

The budgetary control committee foresees several reforms in particular that are necessary, inter alia a requirement for national management declarations signed by the 27 ministers of finance and the introduction of a system of automatic payment interruption as soon as the existence of deficiencies or errors in the functioning of national control structures become apparent.

“I am satisfied that corrective mechanisms are gradually being put into place to eliminate bad practice. In times of austerity, which also affects the European budget, we can no longer tolerate scandals or poor use of public money,” stated Chatzimarkakis.

“There were a number of elements in the Court of Auditors annual report which could have led us to postpone discharge. However the truth of the matter is that it is less the Commission’s fault than that of Member States who do not feel sufficiently accountable for the sound management of EU subsidies for regional development where the error rate remains above 5% whilst falling to 2% for CAP subsidies.

“It must also be recognised that the Commission has made a favourable step in meeting our stringent demands, both in the context of the current recast of the Financial Regulation and the inclusion of financial declarations of assurance by national authorities.  This is a clear step towards national management declarations which should, in future, be a condition for receiving structural assistance.”

“This is not a blank cheque but a message that all those responsible for the management of public money will be more closely scrutinised.”

The report will be voted in plenary in May.