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EU COURT OF AUDITORS : EX-MEMBER SLAMS COURT'S "COVER-UP CULTURE".

Maarten Engwirda, a former Dutch member of the EU Court of Auditors, speaks of a "culture of cover up" in this institution in an interview, on 11 January, with the Dutch daily De Volkskrant.

According to Engwirda, who retired this month after working for the ECA since 1996, Italian and French colleagues sabotaged ECA reports. "There was a practice of watering down if not completely removing criticism," Engwirda told the newspaper. "I wanted to write a book, I was so sick of it all."

ECA representatives had not yet commented by the time Europolitics went to press.

Engwirda goes as far as claiming the European Commission itself was not interested in good budgetary control. He mentions "heavy pressure" in 2005 coming from then Anti-Fraud Commissioner Siim Kallas (now commissioner for transport) on the court to relax its standards.

"We would not feel that there is any basis for the allegations made in this article," said a Commission spokesperson.

"The European Court of Auditors is an independent body [ ], it decides its own methodology and audit priorities without any interference from the Commission," continued the Commission spokesperson.

According to the interview, the pattern of obstruction continued beyond 2005. But after Engwirda convinced his colleagues that their work should be reviewed by national audit offices, things began to change. The Dutchman says that since 2008 this sort of activity has stopped. This date coincides with the first, and only, unqualified opinion on the EU budget since the court began issuing such opinions in 1993. An unqualified opinion from the ECA signifies the annual accounts present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the European Communities and the results of their operations and cash flows.an

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Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Jan 12, 2011
Words:284
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