11 years' chaos for EU accounts11 years' chaos for EU accounts
EUROPE'S official financial watchdog has refused to approve the EU's accounts for the 11th year in a row because they are so full of fraud and errors. The European Court of Auditors refused to give a statement of assurance on the EU's E100billion ($160.3 billion) budget for 2004. "The vast majority of the payment budget was again materially affected by errors of legality and regularity," it said. The audit found major shortcomings in the EU's two biggest areas of spending - farm subsidies and regional development. And it refused to approve the budgets for the EU's foreign policy, aid program and internal policies, particularly its research program. However, financial assistance to countries applying to join the EU was certified, as was the administration budget. The report is highly embarrassing for the European Commission, which said it was "sad" about the findings but insisted it had made progress on improving its account-keeping. The timing of the audit is highly sensitive for Brussels, which hopes to persuade European leaders to agree to a E1000 billion seven-year budget at summit talks next month. Half the project budgets approved by the commission were inadequately monitored.
EU to build network of spy satellites
The European Union is building its own network of spy satellites allowing Brussels to ensure nations and private individuals are obeying its policies, it was announced yesterday. he management of the satellites will fall to the European Space Agency (ESA), which pools the space resources of 15 EU member states, including Britain, plus Norway and Switzerland. US politicians are already suspicious of the ESA's "Galileo" project, a 30-satellite global navigation system designed to improve on the Pentagon-controlled GPS system. The EU's invitation to China to become a major investor only increased US concern.