Vigorous and consistent control of European funds are needed for Europe

More thorough checks of EU spending, more efficient clawing back of fraudulently or irregularly spent EU funds, and vigorous anti-corruption policies in Member States are demanded in a report on the EU’s own resources in the Budgetary Control Committee.  The report of Georgi Pirinski (S&D, BG), will be presented in the March plenary.

Each year the European Commission publishes a report on the state and effects of fighting against corruption in Member States that includes the use of EU funds and poses a potential threat on the financial interests of the Union. Therefore it is good news for the whistleblowers of corruption cases, bad news for tax evaders that the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament voted on the Report about the protection of the EU’s financial interests (the PIF Report) and adapted almost all of Mr. Jávor’s amendment proposals.

This, among others, calls on the Commission to develop an adequate regulation on whistleblower protection. In numerous countries, including Hungary, the quality of whistleblower protection is very poor. In many cases, the procedures in Hungary are conducted against whistleblowers instead of the reported corruptive players, as was in the case of András Horváth, former employee of the Hungarian Tax and Customs Administration. It is evident and declared now that whistleblower protection is a crucial element in fighting corruption.

Up till now, this issue has not been officially displayed on the agendas of the EU institutions; however, the EP has now succeeded in making its responsible committee to adapt the amendments that are also supported by various NGOs. Now there is a basis serving as a reference point in every aim to make the Commission submit an adequate regulation. Mr. Jávor’s other adapted amendment proposal was the one calling attention to the threats of cross-border VAT frauds that jeopardize the EU’s budget.

Three weeks ago Mr. Jávor and Ms. Ingeborg Grässle of the EPP held a public hearing in the European Parliament on VAT frauds in the European Union, after which András Horváth handed in a petition to the European Parliament and now the Budgetary Control Committee has officially articulated its expectations from the Commission to take firm action. Furthermore, Mr. Jávor has asked the Commission to move towards consequential transparency as well as to issue measures even at the slightest indication to any fraudulent activity.

As there has not yet been any available data on how much cohesion money was clawed back from Member States in 2013 by the Commission, another important element of the report was that the Commission will now have to disclose this information in its report.

The committee also adopted amendments calling on the Commission to introduce obligatory criminal procedures on EU level and encourages the Council to do the necessary steps toward the setting up of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office for investigating such crimes. According to Mr. Jávor the adaptation of the amendment proposals by the Budgetary Control Committee is a crucial victory in the fight against corruption.