The European Court of Auditors is responsible for reporting on the legality and regularity of the EU's revenue and expenditure. For twelve successive years the Court has been unable to give a positive Statement of Assurance on the accounts, and this situation, together with its attendant press coverage, has become a serious problem for the European Union and the governments of its Member States. However, the Committee's report argues that this does not necessarily indicate that high levels of fraud or corruption have taken place, given that the National Audit Office would similarly be unable to give a positive Statement of Assurance on the UK's accounts, were this required. The Committee makes a number of recommendations to clarify the work on the Statement of Assurance, including the need for the Court to distinguish clearly between irregularity and fraud by publishing separate figures for the level of fraudulent transactions and administrative mistakes, and for improvements in methodology to ensure the use of full and accurate data in accounts analysis. The report goes on to argue that the audit of the European Commission's accounts should be separated from the broader remit of the Statement of Assurance, and finds no evidence of an alleged culture of corruption within the Commission's administration. As over 80 per cent of EU funds are disbursed within the Member States, the Committee calls for the introduction of national Statements of Assurance audited to internationally recognised standards and for the European Court of Auditors to publish a list of Member States which have demonstrated poor management of EU funds.
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