Monday, February 18, 2008

Court of Auditors
The European Court of Auditors is one of five institutions of the European Union. Its "mission is to audit independently the collection and spending of European Union funds and, through this, assess the way that the European institutions discharge these functions".

The Court of Auditors works independently, and is free to decide how to schedule its auditing activities, how and when to present its observations, and what publicity to give to its reports and opinions.
It has approximately 760 qualified staff, of whom about 250 are auditors. The auditors are divided into "audit groups". They prepare draft reports on which the Court takes decisions.
The auditors frequently go on tours of inspection to the other EU institutions, the member states and any country that receives aid from the EU. Indeed, although the Court's work largely concerns money for which the Commission is responsible, in practice 90% of this income and expenditure is managed by the national authorities.
The Court of Auditors has no legal powers of its own. If auditors discover fraud or irregularities they pass the information as quickly as possible to the EU bodies responsible, so they can take the appropriate action. For twelve years in a row the European Court of Auditors has refused to sign off the EU accounts,[1] stating that they cannot verify the location of 65% of EU funds, although independent financial experts place the figure at 93.4%. A large amount of the endemic fraud in the EU comes from CAP with funds disappearing in the Balkans and Russia.The court suggested that EU staff were abusing the disability system on a large scale, costing taxpayers £54 million a year. Half the claimants had psychological or stress-related complaints. A court official said: "These are not coal miners or deep-sea fishermen. It's not normal for so many to retire for ill-health."
Some paragraphs from EUROPA — European Union institutions and other bodies — The European Court of Auditors; the information on the EUROPA site is subject to a disclaimer and a copyright notice. As a general rule and unless otherwise indicated, the information available on the site may be reproduced on condition that the source is acknowledged. [2]

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