The European Union (EU) misspent more than 4 billion euros (or 4.6 billion dollars) in the 2020 budget year, an assessment by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) published on Tuesday.
The ECA audits states to confirm whether the EU budget was spent in compliance with the bloc’s rules.
“Misspending can occur as a result of accounting errors, or when funds go towards something other than what they were intended for but in rare cases it is also due to fraud.
“The proportion of misspent funding was 2.7 per cent of the total 147.8-billion-euro expenditure examined in the audit, broadly level with recent years.
“The report indicated that most of the audited cases came down to errors in the procurement process and not fraud.
“The errors our auditors found most frequently were ineligible cost claims, ineligible projects, activities, or beneficiaries.
“Also errors in public procurement and state ad aid and lack of supporting documentation,” the assessment indicated.
Six cases were reported to the EU anti-fraud agency Olaf, compared to nine cases in 2020.
The report also flagged challenges ahead in the 1.8-billlion-euro coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery programme.
The report noted that over the next seven years, the EU would spend significantly more than in the previous programme period.
It added that the 27 member states in the bloc agreed on a COVID-19 recovery programme, which will be financed by issuing public debt.
This decision marks a major shift in EU finances.
The auditors warned that the decision entails an obvious need for effective checks on how EU money is spent.