Budgetary Control Committee: EU Must Strengthen Fight Against Fraud
On 19 February 2020, the EP’s Budgetary Control Committee (CONT) voted on the discharge report prepared by MEP Monika Hohlmeier (EPP, DE). By a 20 to 4 vote, the committee members voted in favour of granting discharge of the Commission’s accounts for 2018 (corresponding to 97% of the entire EU budget). However, MEPs recommend a number of measures to fight fraud and avoid conflicts of interest:
- The Commission should introduce subsidy ceilings, so that EU financial support is distributed more fairly; it should be made impossible to receive subsidies amounting to hundreds of millions of Euros in one MFF-period;
- The Commission should create rules that allow disclosure of the end beneficiaries of agricultural funds;
- The EU must establish a complaint mechanism enabling farmers to inform the Commission of organized crime or other malpractices (e.g., land-grabbing, forced labour, etc.);
- Future guidelines must tackle conflicts of interest with regard to high-profile politicians;
- The newly created European Public Prosecutor’s Office is underfinanced and not fully operational in conjunction with current budget planning; based on an estimated caseload of 3000 cases per year, the EPPO needs at least 76 additional posts and €8 million in funding;
- MEPs insist on the adoption of the regulation enabling the EU to restrict EU money for rule-of-law violations in a Member State (this regulation is currently blocked in the Council).
The CONT report comes in preparation for the EP’s discharge decision. The discharge is one of the most important rights of the EP.