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Parliament will not act as rubber-stamp for unsatisfactory Council accounts


28 Apr 2009


EU Priorities 2020

"It is nothing short of absurd that the Council is not present to listen to this debate" said GUE/NGL MEP Søren Søndergaard speaking during this afternoon's plenary on his report on the Parliamentary discharge for the Council's budget for 2007.

The general debate on the reports on the budget discharges for all the EU institutions was held yesterday (Tuesday 21 April) but the report on the Council discharge was scheduled exceptionally for today so that Council representatives could answer some outstanding questions.

Explaining why the Budgetary Control Committee had recommended that the discharge for the budgets administered by the Council should be deferred, MEP Søndergaard reassured the house that there was no indication of fraud or irregularities "but a number of outstanding questions on accounting issues which had not been answered." These included why some 12 million euros had been moved from the interpreting to the travel budget line and the fact that internal auditors had found shortcomings in certain invoices.

"How can we say these accounts are okay when there are questions of this kind? We have obligations to our voters and to taxpayers. This is why we are asking the Parliament to defer the vote to give the Council time to come back to us with satisfactory answers. We are sending a clear signal that we are not a rubber stamp to the forces of darkness," Mr Søndergaard concluded.

Speaking on behalf of the GUE/NGL group, Swedish MEP Jens Holm said "it is Council that should be here today to answer our questions about how it manages its funds." Concerning the 12.6 million euros earmarked for interpretation that had been shifted to the travel budget "We want to know why? What happened to this money? Where did it go?"

MEP Holm explained that the Parliament had already asked the Council to get rid of its out-of-budget accounts. "We represent the European taxpayers, so we demand answers to our questions. If we do not obtain satisfaction, we will not grant the discharge tomorrow."

Gianfranco Battistini +32 475 64 66 28
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 842 320