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SPEECH/10/210

Algirdas Šemeta

EU Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud

2008 Budget Discharge

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

European Parliament Plenary Sitting

Strasbourg, 21 April 2010

Mr President, Mr the Secretary of State, rapporteurs,

Honourable Members,

Allow me to thank the Budget Control Committee, and in particular the rapporteur Mr Liberadzki, and his fellow rapporteurs on the reports they have produced and for the recommendation to grant the discharge to the Commission for the 2008 financial year. I would also like to thank Mrs Ayala Sender for her report on the implementation of the European Development Fund and Mrs Mathieu for her comprehensive analysis of recurrent issues for agencies.

The 2008 discharge procedure is now reaching its end. It was an intensive period but most importantly, the start of a newconstructive dialogue between our institutions.

Achieving an unqualified Assurance Statement from the Court of Auditors remains the Commission's collegial objective. I believe this has been clearly demonstrated in our recent efforts.

Progress is already under way, with simplifications introduced, better management and control systems under the 2007-2013 programming period and the various action plans gradually showing their positive impact on the error rates. A substantialstep change will be possible with the new generation of programmes for the next financial period, currently under preparation, witch should aim at better balancing targeted eligibility criteria, cost of control and quality of spending.

However, with my fellow Commissioners, I do share the wish expressed in your discharge resolution: we want to see soon a measurable acceleration of the progress made over the last years in improving the financial management of the European Budget, including the reinforcement of the main stakeholders' responsibility and accountability.

Close and intense cooperation between the Commission and the European Parliament is instrumental in this respect. However, we all know that it will not be sufficient to accelerate concrete and sustainable progress on the spot. In order to succeed we need a new partnership with all stakeholders, not the least the active involvement of the Member States and the European Court of Auditors.

The Commission will not wait until the amendments to the Financial Regulation enter into force to invite the Member States authorities to fully assume their responsibilities as reinforced under the Lisbon Treaty and anticipating measures which are essential to improving financial management.

I also consider that the Court of Auditors has a crucial role in expressing its independent assurance statement on the Commission’s financial management. Any change in the splitting of the DAS by area would change the share of the budget associated with the different colour areas.

The Commission would very much welcome that the Court of Auditors in the near future considers a distinction between areas where the risk of error is different, and informs us about the actual added-value of the management and control systems introduced in the 2007-2013 legislation. I do hope as well that when the co-legislator will have agreed on the tolerable risk of error, the Court of Auditors will consider this new concept, in the way it finds appropriate.

As requested, the Commission will prepare and send to Parliament a New Agenda for 2010 onwards. The Commission will do its utmost, together with the other actors involved, to accelerate the reduction of error rates so as to ensure that a further 20% of the budget can be given a "green" classification by the European Court of Auditors in 2014.

The involvement of all stakeholders towards the common objective of improving financial management and protecting the Union's financial interests will be at the heart of this new agenda which I will share with you already next month.

Your considerations expressed in the 2008 discharge resolution will be duly taken into account. I am looking forward to constructive discussions.

Concluding remarks

I would like to stress once more the Commission's commitment to pursue the progress we made over the last years in order to further improve the quality of spending. I will of course look carefully at the discharge decisions that the European Parliament will adopt in two weeks time and the Commission will ensure appropriate follow-up.

The results achieved so far demonstrate that the European Union pursues its efforts to improve the way the tax payers' money is spent and adds value to our citizens. This progress is also the result of your action as discharge authority: being always attentive on the way the EU Budget is used, critical when it is not satisfactory but also supporting when progress is made. This is an important message to convey to the citizens of the EU!

Therefore, let me conclude by expressing my special thanks to the European Parliament for its support to the Commission’s effort toward a better financial management of the European Union’s budget.


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