Juhan Parts introducing Riigikogu to European Court of Auditors 2017 report

Juhan Parts (second from the left) talking to one of the Riigikogu's committees.
Juhan Parts (second from the left) talking to one of the Riigikogu's committees. Source: Chancellery of the Riigikogu

The Estonian member of the European Court of Auditors (ECA), Juhan Parts, is due to introduce the Riigikogu's EU affairs, finance and budget control committees on Monday. The main issues are Brexit, grant as well as subsidiary payments and the still complicated procedure for member states to get access to the EU's structural funds.

The parliament's press service wrote on Monday morning that Mr Parts will report both on the overview committee members received of the ECA's work as well as the auditors' recommendations for the coming budget period.

Chairman of the Riigikogu's EU affairs committee, Toomas Vitsut (Centre), said that keeping the EU's finances in top condition is of paramount importance, seeing as trouble might be ahead as the United Kingdom is leaving the Union.

Mr Vitsut added that this year's European election as well as the issue of the EU's multi-annual framework for 2021-2027 could also complicate the situation further, the latter being due this autumn.

According to the 2017 report of the European Court of Auditors, the Union's revenues on the whole are "lawful and correct", the Riigikogu's press service wrote.

However, for the second year in a row, the ECA made a comment on payments. There still are issues with the reimbursement of costs on the part of the EU in sectors with a higher error rate, such as research and development aid projects, rural development, market measures, the environment, climate action and fisheries, and economic, social and territorial cohesion.

The auditors' complaints include bad planning on the part of several institutions, cost overruns and issues with deadlines. For example, the ITER nuclear fusion project is looking at a likely increase in costs of 82% and a completion 15 years later than previously thought.

Still, internal controls of the grant and support allocation process and the institutions involved are generally good, with an estimated error rate of payments out of the EU budget of just 2.4% in 2017.

In the ECA's opinion, the use of funds allocated to the European Structural and Investment Funds remains complicated. According to the auditors' report, the Union's budget continues to be under pressure due to the volume of payments the Union has committed itself to in the coming years.

This, according to the auditors, means that reducing the risk of outstanding payments suddenly piling up needs to be one of the priorities in the upcoming multi-annual framework period, and made an important part of the planning process.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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