Blame the messenger

The EU president told the Europe’s Court of Auditors that he wants it to ensure that its findings get positive headlines and preach the benefits of European spending worth over £110 billion a year.

“Your reports are not released into a void but into the rough and tumble of political life and media reporting,” he said on Thursday night. “Every year, they generate headlines that ‘yet again the EU’s accounts have not been signed off’, with deceptive allegations of fraud and mismanagement. You and I know that such headlines can be misleading.

“Given this media handling of information, and its impact on public opinion in some countries, the court might want to give some further thought as to how it can encourage more nuanced reporting.”

Rather missing the point of what auditors are supposed to do really.

The EU already has the politicians and the PR bods to say how lovely everything is. The auditors are there to say how efficiently the money is being spent and that’s it. So that’s what they should report on, no more.

9 thoughts on “Blame the messenger”

  1. The auditors are there to say how efficiently the money is being spent and that’s it.

    And they are supposed to be independent, so taking direction from an auditee in how and what to write up will compromise that.

    Presumably the auditors have come up with a set of recommendations that if implemented would help fix the shortcomings? Is Van Rompuy trying to brush problems under the carpet?

  2. The auditors should of course resign if they are under political pressure.

    By the way, when did the British government last have its audited accounts signed off?

  3. And somehow the headlines in the media are the responsibility of the auditors?

    “More nuanced reporting” – an interesting euphemism!

  4. The National Socialists instituted a number of modifications to accounting practices in Germany.

    Dr. Göbbels was quite a hand at propaganda.

    Those two areas of activity were not, however, combined, conjoined or merged.

  5. “The auditors are there to say how efficiently the money is being spent and that’s it.”

    Depending on the type of audit – an operational audit (a typical ‘internal audit’ function) might deal with efficiency, but the external (or financial) audit verifies accuracy and adherence to representational standards (within limits of materiality and statistical error…). This is something less than “efficiency of spending” which determination is left to the user / reader.

  6. IIRC the amount of the budget lost to (detected) fraud is 0.09%. Because it isn’t 0% the accounts can’t be “signed off”.If they stopped looking for fraud they might be able to make it, but that would be a perverse incentive.

    If that number is true, it’s quite remarkable, and means outright fraud is a rather smaller problem than the massive misallocation of lots of those funds (a lot of which is probably fraudulent in spirit but not in letter).

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