Maarten Engwirda, a former Dutch member of European Court of Auditors for 15 years, who retired 10 days ago, has alleged that abuse of EU funds was swept under the carpet by an auditing body that was supposed to expose wrongdoing.
“There was a practice of watering down if not completely removing criticism,” he told the Dutch Volkskrant newspaper yesterday.
Slim Kallas, the European Commission’s vice-president, who was responsible for anti-fraud measures from 2004 to 2010 and who is now the EU transport chief, is accused of putting “heavy pressure” on investigators to tone down findings of abuse.
Mr Kallas also clashed with the Court of Auditors over its use of strict accounting standards which meant that the EU’s annual accounts have embarrassingly never been given a clean bill of health. Mr Engwirda, 67, also described an endemic “cover-up culture” within the court and wider EU institutions that had prevented the true extent of fraud from being disclosed.
“All these abuses never came out into the open because of the Kremlin-style information we provided. But it didn’t enhance our reputation one bit,” he said.
The former Dutch national auditor highlighted strong pressure from France to bury a notorious fraud case involving the Fléchard dairy and abuse of EU butter export subsidies worth tens of millions in the 1990s.
Forgive me my jadedness, but what else is new? That the EUnion was not playing by the rules with regard to accounting has been known or suspected for a long time. The revelations by Mr. Engwirda are not all that shocking (though infuriating enough). And like similar stories before this, Mr. Endwirda’s revelations will probably also die a quiet death within now and a few days.
The story will disappear, because nobody cares enough to make it a issue. No government of any member state, let alone an alliance of such governments, will stand up and take the EUnion to task over their wasteful and fraudulent spending of tax money. So, with Dr. North, we ask: Why do we put up with this?