Presentation of the annual report 2007 of the European Court of Auditors: statements by Herbert Bösch, Jean-Pierre Audy, Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira and Siim Kallas

Type: Report   Reference: I-059500   Duration: 10:23:48  Lieu:
End production: 10/11/2008   First transmission: 10/11/2008
The European Court of Auditors presented its annual report 2007 on 10 November 2008 at the European Parliament. The Commission is, solely or in cooperation with Member States, responsible for the implementation of the EU budget, which in 2007 totalled 114 billion Euros of payments. The Court of Auditors is the external auditor of the implementation of this budget. Its annual report provides a basis for the European Parliament's and Council's discharge procedure. The European Court of Auditors' opinion on the EU accounts is now 'unqualified'. The opinion on the underlying transactions remains broadly similar to that of the previous year. The Court identifies the need for improvements in supervisory and control systems and recommends the simplification of regulations. For the first time since the introduction of the accruals based accounting rules, the Court provides a clean (unqualified) opinion on the consolidated accounts. It states that the 2007 annual accounts of the European Communities give a fair presentation, in all material respects, of the financial position of the European Communities and the results of their operations and cash flows. The Court also gives a clean opinion on the legality and regularity in certain areas, such as the Union's administration. However, for most spending areas the Court cannot provide a clean opinion. Although most of the payments which the Court checks are made in compliance with the rules, the Court still finds that payments made to final beneficiaries, such as farmers and project promoters running EU-funded projects, have a too high level of error (non-compliance with rules). The Commission has since 2000 been working on a reform program to improve the management of the EU budget, including an action plan launched in 2006. For 2007, the Court has identified further progress in the Commission's supervisory and control systems, in particular in the area of monitoring and reporting. By the end of the year the Commission had implemented two thirds of the sub-actions in the action plan. It is however too early to assess their impact. Improved high level controls - such as Commission supervision of Member State controls - cannot compensate for inadequate lower level controls, including on-the-spot-checks. The benefits of increasing the number of the latter however have to be balanced against the costs. The Court encourages the political authorities of the Union to conclude their analysis of what would be a tolerable level of risk of error. The Court also calls for due consideration to be given to simplification - for example in rural development and research. Well designed rules that are clear to interpret and simple to apply decrease the risk of error.

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TIME DESCRIPTION DURATION
10:19:33 Title 00:00:04
10:19:38 Exterior view of the European Parliament in Brussels 00:00:05
10:19:43 Door sign: Committee on Budgetary Control of the EP 00:00:04
10:19:47 Jean-Pierre Audy, Member of the EP, Rapporteur, before the meeting starts 00:00:07
10:19:54 General atmosphere 00:00:05
10:19:59 Jean-Pierre Audy talking with Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira, President of the European Court of Auditors, and Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud 00:00:05
10:20:04 Jean-Pierre Audy (in FRENCH) saying that the unqualified opinion on the accounts is good news, although the EP still has some doubts on certain budgetary lines and the Committee on Budgetary Control of the EP wants to hear from the European Court of Auditors and the Commission on all those issues before the EP vote in April 00:00:27
10:20:31 Cutaway 00:00:05
10:20:36 Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira (in ENGLISH) saying that the Court's audit opinion on the EU accounts is now unqualified while the opinion on underlying transactions remains broadly similar to that of the previous year; this is a key message he wishes to convey; but to understand why material levels of error of legality and regularity persist, they need to examine the weaknesses related to supervision and control; the Court's audit has shown over the years that significant amounts of EU funds under shared management are irregularly spent; in these areas the EU funds are disbursed to millions of beneficiaries across the Union based on self-declaration of those who receive the funds; this is inherently risky 00:00:51
10:21:27 Cutaway 00:00:04
10:21:31 Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira (in ENGLISH) saying that the Court has established a sample estimate, based on which it concludes that at least 11% of the total amount reimbursed should not have been reimbursed; in the cases audited by the Court that year, the most frequent causes of incorrect expenditure reimbursements in structural funds were inclusion of ineligible costs, over-declarations of money spent and serious failures to respect procurement rules 00:00:30
10:22:01 Cutaway 00:00:04
10:22:05 Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira (in ENGLISH) saying that all participants in the budget process need to recognise that not all final beneficiaries can be checked on-the-spot, and therefore there will always be some residual risk of error; a key issue is, therefore, to manage the risk in order to keep it at an appropriate tolerable level 00:00:24
10:22:29 Herbert Bösch, Member of the EP, Chairman of the Budgetary Control Committee, (in ENGLISH) saying that mismanagement and the lack of transparency in the use of community funds are not acceptable to any responsible politician; in this light, they will not only look at the snapshot which represents the annual report by the Court, but they should also analyse developments over the years (2 shots) 00:00:21
10:22:50 Jean-Pierre Audy (in FRENCH) saying that as Rapporteur, he has to admit that he is worried about the 14th time they get a negative DAS and he is waiting for the Commission's answer to that 00:00:16
10:23:06 Siim Kallas (in ENGLISH) saying that he hopes that everyone will help to communicate the facts that the EU books are in order; their figures in the balance sheet are reliable 00:00:08
10:23:14 Cutaway 00:00:05
10:23:19 Siim Kallas (in ENGLISH) saying that he recalls: the opinion on the accounts is unqualified; so that year's report is not more of the same; it is an improvement on the previous year, for a year of higher payments, in an increased number of Member States, the EU 27; we are improving, even as an already challenging task is steadily growing (4 shots) 00:00:29
10:23:48 Cutaways (8 shots) 00:00:28
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