SNP Give Scottish "Not Proven" Verdict On EU Accounts

27 April 2006
Transparency and accountability must be improved

SNP Europe Spokesman Alyn Smith MEP has today given a "Not Proven" verdict on the European accounts for 2004. He has rejected 2004 budget discharge as unacceptable due to a lack of information and transparency.

Mr Smith also voted to oppose the accounts for the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions where there is specific evidence of budgetary incompetence and mismanagement.

The SNP MEP abstained on the grounds that he had no confidence in European budgetary and accounting systems and as persistent accounting problems had not been rectified. There was insufficient evidence either to pass or fail the accounts. The abstention is an indication of no confidence in the accounting system.

Speaking from Brussels where the vote took place Mr Smith said:

"I have serious concerns about the European budgetary procedures and no confidence in this system, but equally no evidence of wrong doing or mishandling in the majority of cases. The only way to go on this is "Not Proven". I abstained on the final votes because I am not willing to accept that the procedures we have are adequate, but I am also not willing to line up with the anti-Europeans in their misrepresentation of the EU as corrupt and incompetent when in actual fact the problem lies with the member states.

"This annual saga is euro-manna from heaven for the anti-Europeans. What we need instead of Europe bashing from parties like UKIP is a real improvement in the transparency of these accounts and in the way the EU administers funding. Transparency is the key, only when we have a truly transparent system in all EU institutions and over all EU funds can MEPs have full confidence in these accounts.

"I am disappointed that so many MEPs have raised that concern today but have still voted to sign off the books. If they continue to do that each year there will be no solution to the problems the EU finances face.

"Large amounts of European monies are actually spent and accounted for by member states, local authorities and external organisations, not the European Institutions - it is this that has left auditors unable to prove that the budget is correct but equally unable to prove it is not. This is not the same as finding evidence of wrongdoing, and the anti-Europeans do the citizens of Europe no favours by pretending that it is.

"There is much in the EU that needs reformed, but it is not all bad. We have missed an opportunity here today to reform it."

Note to Editors

In a complicated series of votes on 24 reports Mr Smith abstained on 22 votes. He voted directly against the discharge of the accounts for the European Parliament and for the Committee of Regions. Despite the European Court of Auditors being unable to approve the accounts for the 11th year due to insufficient information on the administration of EU funds by member states and third party organisations MEPS voted by a large majority to approve the budget for 2004.