Friday 28 October 2016

Concern over errors in way EU funds spent

Sarah Collins in Brussels

Published 11/11/2015 | 02:30

Kevin Cardiff is writing book on his role in the banking crisis
Kevin Cardiff is writing book on his role in the banking crisis

EU auditors have urged the Government to clamp down on irregularities in the way Ireland's EU funds are spent.

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In an annual report, the European Court of Auditors - the bloc's financial watchdog - found errors in three out of four payments sampled in Ireland in 2014, all of which were agricultural.

While none of the errors were serious, auditors said it "showed weaknesses in both administrative and on-the-spot checks" in Ireland.

"The transactions we sampled in Ireland this year did have errors, indeed, in the majority of cases, but the errors tended to be small relative to the size of the amounts concerned," said Kevin Cardiff, Ireland's member of the European Court of Auditors.

"The fact that there are errors means that you have to continue to insist that the systems for controlling that spend are appropriate," he said after the report was published yesterday.

Farm payments make up almost 90pc of Ireland's total EU funding, and amounted to €1.2bn in 2014. Most of the errors in Irish farm payments concern land that is misclassified as farmland or that doesn't comply with environmental conditions.

Mr Cardiff said Ireland should be more attuned to spending errors in other countries because for the first time since joining the EU in 1973, Ireland now pays more into the bloc's budget than it gets out.

The former secretary general of the Department of Finance, who recently gave evidence to the Banking Inquiry, is working on a book about his and the department's roles in the crisis. All royalties from it would go to charity, he added.

Irish Independent

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