European Union, the accounts that do not add up: the budgets of Frontex, the Court of Auditors and the Council rejected. Waste even with the pandemic – Il Fatto Quotidiano

Among the items to be circled in red, the restyling from Paul-Henri Spaak palacethe one that houses the hemicycle of the European Parliament: 500 million of euros to house the MEPs. But also bizarre purchasing projects abroad, such as those in Congo (offices), in Afghanistan (land), in Mali (offices) and in United Kingdom (residence). And we are only in real estate. Then there are the management costs, the staff, the lack of transparency and the few antidotes to lobbying in a period where pharmaceuticals and the war industry have prairies in front of them. All in an immense amount of chapters, voices and little voices that it is difficult to even follow, let alone give them the green dot. The European Parliament tried yesterday. In a river vote he approved the clearance of accounts 2020 for most EU bodies, postponing those of key agencies such as Frontexthe European Economic and Social Committee and the same European Council. Who are therefore called upon to provide explanations and respond to the concerns of the Members, before a second vote is held between September and October.

The “discharge procedure”Is the European Parliament’s most important tool for verifying how public funds have been spent and how European projects have been implemented. The budget of the European Court of Auditors, the one that should watch over waste: 333 votes against 291, but with a resolution that asks the Court to resolve a series of ethical and financial management issues involving members and the president and raises doubts about its impartiality. However, that of the agency does not pass Frontex which deals with internal border security, rejected by 492 votes and only 145 votes in favor. Ditto for that of the Advise, which is usually rejected because it never provides the deputies with the documents on which to make assessments in order to the critical issues that they gradually encounter. Even the accounts presented by the Economic and Social Committee (EESC) are returned to the sender. Not so much or only for the numbers, but also because of the lack of actions to stem the phenomenon of harassment emerged in 2018 that they involved a high-level member of the committee, with Olaf involvement and the opening of several investigations and sanctions.

In general, the plenary shows that while Covid ate a piece of the continental economy, Europe as an institution was able to spend and spread like nothing had happened, including 500 million to renovate one of the many staterooms (the Paul-Henri Spaak building). He also allowed himself the luxury of looking down on recommendations transparency that were to act as an antidote to the waste and conflicts of interest that all remain standing, from those with the pharmaceutical industry that has done gold deals with vaccines to those with arms manufacturers that Europe has been sending to Ukraine for two months. The discussion focuses on an apparently accounting theme, but also for the context it becomes politics.

Driven by the war, Europe as never before is discussing how to reform some cornerstones of its common policy, from defence to strategic autonomy, up to the policies of energy supply. Also on the impulse of Prime Minister Draghi – who bluntly reiterated this in Strasbourg on Tuesday – reflects on the decision-making mechanisms that paralyze his action. In short, the urgency of a new dynamism of the community institution is felt at a very high level. But when you wade into the bottom of pocketsthis Europe “in progress” discovers that it has its feet planted firmly in one quagmire of bureaucracies heavy and spendthrift, weighed down by the multiplication of costs and expense centers that he cannot keep at bay. His backbone, made up of many community agenciesis burdened by bad management and conflicts of interest which also occur in extraordinary situations, such as the pandemic and war.

“The Budget Control Commission – he reports Sabrina Pignedoli, MEP of the 5 Star Movement – has done an enormous job denouncing and rejecting the budgets of numerous European institutions. For the M5S, citizens’ money must be managed with sobriety and accuracy, but it is evident that it is not by hiding the dust under the carpet that we provide a better idea of ​​the European institutions, but by bringing out the critical issues and working to solve them ”.

ADVICE – The approved report points the finger at the Council accusing it of non cooperation with Parliament continuing to demand full respect for the prerogative in the discharge procedure. In practice, it does not provide parliamentarians with the documents necessary for an assessment of the budget. This refusal to grant discharge has lasted for more than a year decade.

FRONTEX – It is the agency that presents the greatest number of criticalities, also detected by the Court of Auditors, in relation to the budget managementbut also in the management of rhuman resources. In particular, it discounts the effects of a sensational internal investigation on alleged harassmentmisconduct and refoulement of migrants on which Olaf has been investigating since December (its President Fabrice Leggeri resigned last Friday).

THE COURT OF AUDITORS – The relationship was the focus of a furious fight between the right (represented by the EPP, ECR and ID – in defense of the Court of Auditors and its President) and the progressive front (against the discharge and in favor of heavy criticism of the Court). The Litigation Committee decided to postpone the discharge, but the vote was extremely tight. At the center of the debate are irregularities and fraud within the Court itself. This publication was followed by aextraordinary audition with the president Mr. Lehne, former German member of the EP, in the EPP group. At the heart of the irregularities: use of the fleet of machinesrents, subleases, conflicts of interest and installation allowance. It passes, but with a resolution that commits the Court to shedding light on many aspects, not only financial but also ethical.

THE SERVICE FOR EXTERNAL ACTION – The approved report gives an account of the financial impact of the reserves for the intervention sector “External relationse “increased from 16 million euros in 2019 to 21 million in 2020. Among the expenses circled in red 400 thousand euros for the organization of study trips of the European Union delegation to the United States in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. Stresses that, in the call for tenders, the EEAS requested accommodation and related services three times in 2020 for an average of 15 participants visiting Brussels and other cities in the EU Member States; criticizes the planned purchase projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (offices), Afghanistan (land), Mali (offices) and the United Kingdom (residence).

THE TRANSPARENCY KNOT – In the report on the Parliament’s budget, it is the Court of Auditors that points out the little progress made, criticisms that between pharmaceuticals in the pandemic and weapons in the Ukrainian war assume a greater specific weight. The report attached to the financial statements reminds that thearticle 11 of the European regulation requires rapporteurs and committee chairs to publish their meetings with interest representatives; notes with concern that as of April 30, 2021 only 380 of the current 705 deputies have posted at least one meeting with an interest representative on the site Internet of Parliament; further notes that since the beginning of the ninth parliamentary term, 10 of the 24 committee chairs have not published any meetings with interest representatives, or have only published one; reminds that information, reminders and e-mails on the obligation to publish meetings should be sent to all members at more regular intervals. “

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European Union, the accounts that do not add up: the budgets of Frontex, the Court of Auditors and the Council rejected. Waste even with the pandemic – Il Fatto Quotidiano


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