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AUDIT : COMMISSION WANTS TO IMPROVE ITS SPENDING CONTROL STRUCTURES.

The European Commission presented,on 7 March, a progress report on achievements over the past twelve months in improving its internal control structures for EU spending. Several areas where progress is still requiredawere identified.

A little over a year ago, the Commission launched an action plan for an integrated internal control framework, which amounts to improving its internal control structures. Each financial year, the European Court of Auditors issues a Statement of Assurance (SOA) for the execution of the budget for which the Commission is responsible and must provide the Court of Auditors with proof of audit. As part of Jose Manuel Barroso's goal to obtain a clean bill of health from the auditors during his mandate (something which has not happened for twelve years), the Commission wished to implement an integrated internal control framework. The aim is to ensure more efficient internal control of EU funds and to provide the Court of Auditors with a solid base on which to establish its statement of assurance.

The Action Plan consists of 16 actions intended to improve all aspects of the control structures in place, from the underlying legislation to auditing finished programmes and recovering funds from beneficiaries where necessary. This week's report shows that considerable progress has been made in these 16 areas and sets out what still has to be done.

NEW SUB-ACTIONS

Some adjustments or modified actions have therefore been proposed such as: strengthening the link between reasonable assurance and payments; clarifying the importance of recoveries; ensuring the cost of control is commensurate with the risk of error; the simplification and clarification of rules; the sharingof audit data.

Experience has shown that a number of actions need to be refined and the Commission has therefore proposed new sub-actions in these areas, focusing on direct centralised management given the Commission's sole responsibility in this domain. The new sub-actions will be completed within the original timetable for the action plan (end of 2007).

In 2007, the Commission plans to focus on other key areas of the control framework, in particular making a clearer link between control weaknesses and the suspension of payments, recoveries and sanctions. It will also present the results of the actions currently being carried out to assess the role of cost-benefit analysis in setting the level of control. The Commission will then be in a better position to set its level of control to ensure the minimum administrative burden while still protecting the financial interests of theEuropean taxpayer.

A final report on the implementation of the action plan will be drawn up at the beginning of 2008.

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Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Mar 14, 2007
Words:430
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