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Cyprus

‘More attention needed to how EU funds spent’

By George Psyllides

There is no negative reference about Cyprus in the European Court of Auditors (ECA) report on the European Union budget, MPs heard on Tuesday.

Watchdog Committee chairman Giorgos Georgiou said Cyprus was not included in the list of countries with problems regarding the management of EU funds and is an example to follow for best practice and dedication to transparency, compliance and credibility of official accounts for EU-funded projects.

In the report, published on Tuesday, the ECA warned that the budget system was too focused on just getting funds spent and needed to place more emphasis on achieving results.

The ECA stressed that the management of EU spending is not yet good enough overall – either at EU level or in the Member States.

Throughout the 2007 to 2013 spending period, EU auditors said, the priority was given to spending the money rather than to achieving good results.

“From now on, there has to be more careful management and control of EU funds,” ECA President Vítor Caldeira said. “The European Commission and the Member States must pay more attention to how they spend our taxpayers’ money.”

The report said for EU expenditure the estimated error rate was 4.7 per cent in 2013 – from 4.8 per cent in 2012.

The ECA’s estimate of the error rate is not a measure of fraud, inefficiency or waste.

It is money that should not have been paid from the EU budget because it was not used in accordance with EU rules.

Typical errors include payments to a company declared as an SME, which is in fact owned by a large company, or making additions to an existing public contract without giving other tenderers a chance to bid.

Most errors occurred in spending areas where management is shared between the member states and the European Commission.

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