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Algirdas Šemeta

Commissioner responsible for Taxation

Statement on the Council's recommendation for budget discharge

EP Committee on Budgetary Control

Brussels, 28 February 2011

Dear Chairman, Dear Minister Becsey, Honourable Members,

I want to thank the Hungarian Presidency and the Council for this recommendation in which the Council invites the Discharge Authority to grant the discharge for the 2009 budgetary year.

Despite the significant progress in 2009, weaknesses still exist and a lot of work lies ahead for all actors involved in the management of EU programmes, not only the Commission but also the Member States who are managing close to 80% of the EU Budget.

First we need to improve the performance of our "only partially effective" management and control systems. The better designed systems introduced for the new programmes 2007-2013 will be fully performing only if and when they are correctly implemented by the Commission services and by the national authorities in the Member States.

Secondly, financial corrections and recovery must improve and the reporting to the Commission made more timely, complete and reliable. This is instrumental to reduce the level of error and guarantee that the EU money reaches the ones who need it for the right purpose. The Commission is committed to contribute to this effort by using, where needed, preventive instruments such as the interruptions or suspension of payments.

Thirdly, all financial actors have to be more accountable towards the EU tax payer. The Commission's assurance depends from the largest part of the Budget on the Member States' accountability and reporting.

The Commission proposed in the review of the Financial Regulation that National Authorities provide an annual managerial declaration for all programmes under shared-management. This is in my view the best way to provide a credible and reliable assurance that the EU budget is used and controlled properly.

The Commission looks forward for our forthcoming discussion on this proposal, which will also be discussed in a seminar next week in Brussels with representatives of this House, the Council, the National Authorities and the Commission services.

Finally, the complexity of rules and processes is a main source of errors. The Commission will pursue its efforts to propose simplification measures focusing on the beneficiaries. Such measures are included in the review of the Financial Regulation. Others will follow in the sectoral legal bases for the next generation of programmes.

To conclude, I believe that this discharge exercise is the opportunity for all of us to identify the measures that should be implemented without delay. It also gives us clear guidelines for our forthcoming work regarding the preparation of the next generation of EU programmes, to ensure that they provide the necessary EU added-value and cost effectiveness.

Thank you for your attention.

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