“The EU accounts have never been signed off”: Really?

Not true. There is a persistent myth (reliably recycled every year by UK newspapers) that the European Court of Auditors has refused to sign off the EU’s accounts, but this is false.

In the most recent audit year (2013), the Court gave a clean bill of health to the accounts for the seventh time in a row. This means every euro spent from the EU budget was duly recorded in the books and correctly accounted for. In the auditors’ own words, they ‘signed off’ the accounts. Evidence

According to the European Court of Auditors, around 0.2% of the EU budget may have been subject to fraud. Any amount of possible fraud is unacceptable and needs challenging. But it’s worth noting that the figure of 0.2% is much lower than most national budgets! Evidence

There is a separate question about the proportion of revenue or spending that is affected by what auditors call “material error”. Material error arises from problems like a missing supporting document or the incorrect application of procurement rules (these were the two main causes of material error noted by the auditors). Material error is an accounting term and it does not mean fraud or waste. More details about materiality

For all EU revenue, and for the portion of EU spending that is administered by the EU itself, the auditors certified that the accounts were free from material error (which actually means that error fell below a certain threshold). For the portion of EU spending that is administered by member states, the auditors found a material error rate of 3.8% in 2014. Evidence

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