Daniel Freund

1. March 2022 Anti-Corruption

The European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control has decided to postpone the discharge of the European Court of Auditors’ budget for the time being. The decision follows serious allegations of waste of funds by members of the Court. In particular, the Court’s President Klaus-Heiner Lehne (German EPP) is alleged to have cheated with rent subsidies and to have been politically active in his home town of Düsseldorf, contrary to the rules.

Daniel Freund, member of the Budgetary Control Committee, comments:

I have doubts whether Lehne maintained the necessary party-political independence. The trickery with rent subsidies also leaves at least a bad taste. Unfortunately, we budget controllers have still not been provided with all the documents as promised in order to clear up the allegations completely. The outstanding issues must be clarified before we can give a green light for the discharge of the Court’s budget.

 

What is the discharge procedure?

The vote is part of the annual discharge procedure, which allows the European Parliament to hold the various EU institutions politically accountable for the implementation of the EU budget. Although the postponement or refusal of the discharge by the Parliament has no direct consequences, it is a strong political signal which has in the past often triggered reforms and/or personnel changes in the institution concerned.

Yesterday’s vote took place at committee level. The final discharge decision will be taken by the plenary in May. In most cases the plenary follows the decision of the committee.

News coverage on this topic

Series of articles from the French newspaper “Libération” (in French): 26 Nov 2021, 14 Dec 2021, 7 Feb 2022

Article by the German news magazine DER SPIEGEL from 25 Feb 2022 (in German)