Eurosceptics seek to exploit affair

The European Commission's accounting system, which deals with more than over €80bn annually, has been described as insecure and unreliable by Martha Andreason.

As a result of her allegations, an internal audit was conducted by the Luxembourg-based audit service in February of this year. It made serious criticisms of the system being used by the commission for not upholding basic principles of double-entry accounting.

Ms Andreason was suspended in May by the EU’s Administration Commissioner - the former British Labour leader, Neil Kinnock - for making unsubstantiated allegations involving senior colleagues. The commission has published a detailed document refuting her criticisms.

While it acknowledged that the existing accounting system has flaws, it argued that the German system that she was advocating would not solve the problems but would cost 30m to implement.

Although the row has been simmering for over two months, it was exploited this week by a group of Eurosceptic MPs in Britain. Tory MEP Chris Heaton-Harris has charged that Ms Andreason has been very shabbily treated for behaviour that would merit promotion in another organisation.

Allegations of suspect accounting practices will undoubtedly be taken seriously in the light of the accounting scandals in the US.

No doubt, opponents of the Nice Treaty will seize on this issue with a re-run of the referendum due here in October, but the manner in which the Tory MPs have sought to exploit the affair at the start of the so-called silly season should prompt a healthy dose of scepticism.

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