Page last updated at 09:39 GMT, Thursday, 11 November 2010

Court of Auditors report

The way in which the EU spends its budget has been criticised by the Court of Auditors for the 16th year in a row.

Presenting his annual report to the European Parliament on 11 November 2010, the president of the Court Vitor Caldeira said there were "material levels of error", particular in the fields of agriculture and the cohesion funds.

The European Court of Auditors was established in 1975, and audits the accounts of EU institutions.

In its most recent report it has found that over a third of the €35.5bn allocated by the EU for regional funding was affected by errors, either unintentional or possibly fraud.

The Audit and Anti-Fraud Commissioner Algirdas Semeta said the Commission would "follow up on all recommendations" but said the report was a "positive sign that efforts to improve budgetary control are having an impact".

He pointed to the fact that the auditors found that 95% of payments were free from errors, however Polish conservative MEP Ryszard Czarnecki said voters would "focus on the remaining 5%".

Strong criticism came from UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen, a former Chief Accountant at the European Commission, who said that if similar problems were revealed in the private sector, "the company would be closed down and the directors fired".

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