By Matt Chorley | DailyMail.co.uk
The European Union is still wasting billions every year, spending watchdogs said today as they refused to sign off official accounts - again.
It is the 18th successive year that the Court of Auditors has said the EU’s finances were in such a mess that they could not be given a clean bill of health. In fact errors are still on the rise.
It included a ‘special premium’ paid to a farmer for 150 sheep which did not exist and 200,000 euros paid for a two-storey "laboratory" for producing fruit in Lombardy, Italy which inspectors found had ‘predominantly the charters of a private residence’.
The revelations will heap pressure on David Cameron who suffered a humiliating Commons defeat last week as Labour and Tory rebels united to demand he insist on a cut on the vast budget at talks next month.
The 27 member states and the executive Commission stand accused of failing to do enough to track billions of pounds in spending at a time when countries are imposing deep spending cuts at homes.
The Court of Auditors said that errors in EU payments had risen to 3.9 per cent from the 2011 budget of almost 130billion euros (Ł104billion).
It added that there were ‘too many cases of EU money not hitting the target or being used sub-optimally’.
Acknowledging the clamour for cuts in spending, ECA President Vitor Caldeira said it was essential for the EU to disburse its current budget ‘more efficiently’
He added: ‘Member states must agree on better rules for how EU money is spent, and member states and the European Commission must enforce them properly.’
Marta Andreasen, a UK Independence Party MEP, said: ‘If this report, outlining as it does the continued gross mismanagement of EU funds, doesn’t set alarm bells ringing in Downing Street then nothing will.’
The former European Commission Chief Accountant added: ‘There is a new generation who will be voting later this month who have never known an EU with clean accounts.’
UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen, a former Accounting Officer for the European Commission, said today’s report should set alarm bells ringing in Downing Street.
Read the full article at: dailymail.co.uk
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