The European Union is failing to keep track of huge annual subsidies, and 91 per cent of its budget is riddled with errors or cannot be verified, a financial watchdog said yesterday.
The European Court of Auditors refused to certify EU accounts for the ninth successive year, saying Brussels has failed to match reform rhetoric with a genuine change of culture. Abuse is said to be endemic in the Common Agricultural Policy, which still consumes almost half the £65 billion budget.
Checks on subsidy claims for suckler cows found that 50.2 per cent of animals in Portugal and 31.2 per cent in Italy were false. The “error rate” in forage and crop acreage was 89.7 per cent in Luxembourg, 42.9 per cent in Sweden, 34.5 per cent in France and 19.2 per cent in Britain, despite increased use of satellite photography to spot fraud.