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“Despite progress, efforts must continue towards obtaining an unqualified Statement of Assurance in all areas of the budget,” says the Minister Bajuk.

Today in Brussels, the Slovenian Minister of Finance and current President of the Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) Council, Dr Andrej Bajuk, presented to the Committee on Budgetary Control of the European Parliament the recommendations adopted by the ECOFIN Council on 12 February 2008 on the discharge to be given to the European Commission for the implementation of the EU budget for 2006. He also presented the recommendations on the discharge to be given to the directors of 22 specialised EU agencies for the implementation of their budgets for 2006.

Dr Bajuk opened by emphasising, “We made real improvements in 2006. While ECOFIN regrets that the European Court of Auditors, despite the efforts of the Commission and our partners in the Council, was unable to issue an unqualified Statement of Assurance  for the implementation of Community funds as regards the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions, nonetheless the positive elements and improvements achieved should be acknowledged.”

He pointed out that, on the whole, the opinion of the Court of Auditors on the reliability of final EU accounts was, with the exception of some minor shortcomings, favourable. Dr Bajuk focused first on the positive aspects:

  • the good functioning of the accruals-based accounting system introduced by the Commission in 2005,
  • confirmation of the efficiency of the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) operated by the majority of Member States and which contributed to a marked reduction of the overall level of errors in Common Agricultural Policy expenditures,
  • the Court of Auditors findings related to expenditures in the area of external actions revealed only a limited risk of material errors in operations implemented by the Commission's delegations,
  • the decisive action undertaken by the Commission to improve the budgetary management.

ECOFIN is concerned about the situation regarding the legality and regularity of transactions in the field of rural development and Structural Policies, where certain errors still persist. Dr Bajuk underlined that ECOFIN addressed through its discharge recommendation a strong request to all participants involved to do their utmost to continue their best efforts towards obtaining an unqualified Statement of Assurance in all areas of the budget.

He went on to stress the ECOFIN priorities related to improving the controls over funds under shared management by the Commission and the Member States. Pursuant to the EU Treaty, the Commission implements the budget on its own responsibility, while the Member States participate in the process in order to ensure good financial management. ECOFIN's recommendation on discharge therefore included some recommendations to the Member States, including encouraging them to examine in detail the data for their respective countries in light of the Court of Auditors' audit results and to respond in a timely fashion to previous findings, to continue their work in the area of Structural Policy and to consistently implement IACS in the agricultural sector.

Dr Bajuk concluded by presenting the message adopted up by the EU Finance Ministers at the ECOFIN Council meeting of 12 February: “All Member States are doing their best to improve the situation, and the image we all wish to present to the citizens of Europe is that of a responsible and well managed European Union. I am certain that the European Parliament shares this objective.”


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Date: 29.02.2008