HM Treasury News Release
ANTI-FRAUD FOCUS IN EUROPEAN COMMUNITY REPORT
Latest developments on anti-fraud measures in the European Community
were published today as part of the Government's annual statement
on the EC Budget.
Commenting on the publication of European Community Finances
- the nineteenth statement in the series - Economic Secretary,
Patricia Hewitt said :
"As in previous years, this Statement clearly sets out the latest
key developments and measures to counter fraud and financial mismanagement
in the EC.
"We are determined to crack down on fraud at every level within
the European Community. That is why we pressed hard, and won agreement
for, UK proposals to reform the EU's anti-fraud system, drawing on
a number of strengths of the UK model:
"The new European Anti-Fraud Office meets our requirements. The
EU fraud buster will be independent, will initiate its own investigations,
and will make sure its recommendations are followed up.
"But getting the new Anti Fraud Office in place is only the vital
first step. We need thorough reform in Brussels. And it is coming.
The Cologne European Council stressed the importance of reform and
modernisation of the Commission and of the European civil service,
and proposals will come forward soon."
Details about EC financial management and measures to counter fraud
the European Court of Auditors' Annual Report for 1997 and Statement
of Assurance, published on 17 November 1998;
the Council's recommendation to the European Parliament on the discharge
to be given to the Commission for its implementation of the 1997 budget;
details of progress on the major areas of work under the Commission's
Sound and Efficient Management 2000 Programme;
the 1998 "Fight against Fraud" report;
the new European Anti-Fraud Office.
The Annual Statement also sets out a breakdown of expenditure and
sources of revenue in the 1999 Community Budget, along with details
of the UK's contributions to, and receipts from, the Budget.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. The Economic Secretary announced the publication of European
Community Finances in answer to a Parliamentary Question from
Jackie Lawrence (Preseli, Pembrokeshire).
2. European Anti-Fraud Office : The European Anti-Fraud
Office was formally established by the Commission on 1 June 1999.
Investigations into fraud against the European Community budget had
previously been carried out by the Commission's UCLAF (Unité
de coordination de la lutte anti-fraude) unit. Following calls for
a stronger, more independent unit, the Commission put forward a proposal,
which was discussed and amended by Member States. On 25 May ECOFIN
agreed on the Regulation for a European Anti-Fraud Office within the
Commission in line with Chancellor's initiative at the January ECOFIN.
The Regulation had already been agreed by the European Parliament.
3. The new Office will have a strong independent head with statutory
protection similar to that which the Financial Controller already
has. It will have operational independence: it will be able to initiate
investigations on its own initiative, have automatic right of access
to documents and buildings and the right to question officials. But
this independence will be matched by a responsibility for making recommendations
for ensuring speedy and effective follow up once problems have been
identified. This responsibility will be based on accountability: the
Office will report direct to the Council and to the European Parliament,
and through them to the European taxpayer.
5. Details of information in the report includes:
6. Copies of European Community Finances (Cm 4382) are on sale at
all Stationery Office bookshops and can also be ordered by telephone
on 0171 873 9090, price £6.70.
7. If you have access to the Internet, you can find this news release and other Treasury information at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk.