EUrocrat Corruption Watch

Critics of the EU are having a field day with the latest investigations into the Eurostat scandal:

In a frenzied atmosphere not seen in Strasbourg since the downfall of Jacques Santer’s commission on nepotism charges four years ago, Euro-MPs were allowed their first glimpse of a set of audit and fraud reports before midnight in a sealed room.

In a damning conclusion, the chief auditor wrote: “It is apparent that the commission is ill-equipped to protect itself further against the risk of collusion on third parties, where little controls, if any, are in place”.

The reports decried a “total lack of audit trail”, making it impossible to know how long the practice had continued or whether Eurostat officials had been skimming contracts for their own enrichment.

They revealed that taxpayers’ money had been used to pay for perks and freebies, including a riding club, a volleyball team, extravagant dinners, and trips to New York and the Bahamas.

For all the EU’s bluster about how America is run by some sinister corporate cabal, the business climate in Europe is based on the incentuous relationship between business and government. Because of the EU’s draconian regulatory climate businesses that want to expand have to engage in lobbying or outright bribery to get things done. This kind of cozy public/private backscratching is an accepted part of the European business system.

This siphoning of funds continued for some time under the administration of former EU President Romano Prodi:

[Chris Heaton-Harris, a Tory MEP] called for the resignation of Pedro Solbes, the commissioner heading Eurostat, but said the issue went deeper. "Neil Kinnock [the commission vice-president] has serious questions to answer. He is in charge of cleaning up Brussels but we’re still looking at a total breakdown of control," he said.

The dominant Socialist and Christian Democrat MEPs had held their fire until now, but last night support for Mr Prodi’s team was starting to crumble. Abuses continued well into the Prodi era, some until as recently as July.

Arlene McCarthy, a Labour MEP, said: "These reports contain serious evidence of malpractice, cronyism and cosy cartels."

It’s yet another way in which the European experiment is failing due to the arrogance of the Eurocrat elite.

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