17. MEMBER STATES' REPLIES TO THE COURT
Commission report on Member States' replies to the Court of Auditors' 2000 annual report.
|Document originated:||18 July 2002
|Deposited in Parliament:
||31 July 2002|
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 27 August 2002|
|Previous Committee Report:
|To be discussed in Council:
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||Cleared, but relevant to any debate on the Court of Auditors' 2001 annual report
17.1 Following the Dublin European Council in 1996 the
Commission and the Court of Auditors set up a framework allowing
Member States to:
- comment on the observations made by the Court of Auditors
in its annual and special reports;
- add to or comment on the Commission's answers to the Court's
It is an opportunity to support or challenge the Court's recommendations.
This report is an analysis of the responses of Member States.
17.2 The first part of the report is a general analysis.
In their responses Member States broadly agreed with the Court's
assessment that weaknesses still remained in the financial management
systems. Nevertheless Member States disputed some particular findings
of the Court and commented adversely on some aspects of the Court's
methodology and time-tabling. In their responses Member States
also commented on any necessary corrective actions. The Commission
summarizes them as being limited in number and not necessitating
any fundamental reassessment of systems.
17.3 The longer second part of the report is a sector-by-sector
analysis of comments on particular issues including:
- anti-dumping duties such as inadequate follow-up to
mutual assistance messages;
- keeping of separate accounts whilst disputed items are determined;
Common Agricultural Policy:
- improvements to the Integrated Administration and Control
- issues of clearance of accounts;
- the Court's accuracy and methodology;
- implementation of controls in relation to co-financed operations;
17.4 This part of the report also deals briefly with
administrative expenditure, internal polices and external action.
As these sectors are mainly the preserve of the Commission rather
than Member States, little of interest was revealed. But the Commission
does note comment from the UK under the internal policies (research)
and external action headings, asking for more investigations.
The Government's view
17.5 The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Ruth Kelly)
"The Government welcomes this report as this can be used
as an effective tool in sharing information between Member States.
Also, by being aware of the current weaknesses, the Commission
and the Member States are in a better position to cut down on
both fraud and waste.
"The Commission holds the responsibility for implementing
the Community's budget (under Article 274 of the Treaty) and therefore
also takes the responsibility for responding to the Court of Auditors'
findings. However, the Government also takes the UK's responsibility
for managing its share of the budget seriously. The UK argued
in the Council in 1995 for a procedure for Member States to respond
to the Court of Auditors' comments, which was endorsed by the
November 1996 ECOFIN Council. The UK was the only Member State
to respond to the 1994 Court of Auditors' Report, but since then
the procedure has become a regular event for all Member States."
17.6 We clear this document. But many of the issues
raised in the document would be relevant to a debate in European
Standing Committee B on the Court of Auditors 2001 Annual Report,
which we are likely to recommend once the report is received.
(We have already recommended for debate a Commission report on
sound financial management in 2001
which would be debated with the Court of Auditors report.)
10625/1/02; see HC 152-xxxix (2001-02), paragraph 2 (23 October