UK Liberty

er, what?

Posted in politicians on liberty by ukliberty on February 22, 2008

The Telegraph:

The European parliament yesterday tried to avert a formal investigation into possible fraud by Euro-MPs worth almost £100 million a year.

The report by the parliament’s internal auditor details expenses scams worth up to £125,000 a year for each Euro-MP. The European Union’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, has written a letter requesting access to the document, which parliament will receive today.

“We heard about this document on Monday and we were interested straight away,” said a source at OLAF. “Now we have had requests from MEPs for OLAF to look into it. We want to see it.”

But the parliament said yesterday that it saw no need for an investigation.

“As the internal auditor’s report has not revealed any individual cases of fraud, he has not recommended referring his findings to the EU anti-fraud agency OLAF,” it said in a statement.

EU and Parliament officials have tried to play down the internal audit of parliamentary assistance allowances as a dull and complicated “systems analysis”.

Chris Davies, a British Liberal Democrat Euro-MP, who has read the report and demanded a full fraud investigation, said the parliament’s stance was “outrageous”.

“I have read this report and it is deeply shocking,” he said. “The best way to settle this is to publish.”

You may remember this from November 2007:

The auditors for the EU have refused to sign off the bloc’s financial accounts – for the 13th year in a row.

A report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) criticises nearly every major area of the EU’s expenditure.

The auditors say there are weaknesses across the board and complain of neglect and presumed attempts at fraud.

Errors of legality and regularity still persist in the majority of the EU’s 106bn euro annual budget (£75bn), according to the Court of Auditors.

That’s our money, and our fellow Europeans’ money, disappearing into pockets and black holes, and no-one is being held to account.

Another Telegraph article:

the petty malfeasance of MEPs facilitates the larger Euro-abuses. For 13 years in a row, the European Court of Auditors has refused to endorse the EU budget; yet, for 13 years in a row, Euro-MPs have voted through the money anyway. Glass houses and stones, you see.

But there is more at stake than the bad behaviour of MEPs. If this is how the EU administers itself, are we wise to hand it substantial new competences? If Eurocrats cannot run their own accounts cleanly, are they the right people to be put in charge of our taxes, our foreign policy, our borders, our laws?

There are good and sincere people who support closer European integration. But I am struck by how often they refuse to look at the EU that has in fact taken form, concentrating instead on some idealised version that exists only in Eurocrats’ speeches.

Their European Union is a pure ideal, all about democracy and peace. They won’t acknowledge its antithesis: the inconvenient reality of false accounts, whistle-blowers being sacked and an unelected apparat enriching itself at the expense of the taxpayer. We may, as Oscar Wilde said, be in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Those who give the EU the automatic benefit of the doubt are doing it no favours. Assured of unqualified support, Eurocrats have become haughty, lazy and sleazy. Anyone who complains – even if he confines his criticism to the narrow issue of financial impropriety – risks being dismissed as a xenophobe.

Watch the debates at Westminster over the Lisbon Treaty (né European Constitution) and you will see that Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs are largely discussing the virtual European Union, rather than the real one. They put the issue in deliberately abstract and generalised terms: is Britain going to be “engaged”, or is it going to be “isolated”?

But the real question is more pragmatic. Are we going to hand 60 new fields of policy to an organisation that is visibly inept and often crooked? MPs must search their consciences. Do they really believe that their constituents will be better off when further powers are transferred from Westminster to Brussels?

Well said.

But I would add, what is the problem for which the EU is the solution?


3 Responses

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  1. Ralf Grahn said, on February 22, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    The European Parliament has been offered an opportunity to show that it can publish the findings, act on them and root out further abuse.

    We are still waiting for these things to happen.

  2. ukliberty said, on February 22, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    They’ve had 13 years to sort out the accounts!

  3. Ray, Coventry, England said, on February 23, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Reminds one of the story of the boy who cried wolf.
    These MEPs and MPs tell lies so often that even when? they tell the truth we don’t believe them. Well I don’t.
    for the full truth visit:-

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