Posted by: Dirk | January 29, 2016

European Court of Auditors: ‘European Commission’s handling of financial crisis was “generally weak”’

The European Court of Auditors has released this account:

​The European Commission was not prepared for the first requests for financial assistance during the 2008 financial crisis because warning signs had passed unnoticed, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. The auditors found that the Commission did succeed in managing assistance programmes which brought about reform, despite its lack of experience, and they point to a number of positive outcomes. But they also identify several areas of concern relating to the Commission’s “generally weak” handling of the crisis: countries treated differently, limited quality control, weak monitoring of implementation and shortcomings in documentation.

Among the more specific complaints this is interesting:

Different approaches: the auditors found several examples of countries not being treated in the same way in a comparable situation. In some programmes, the conditions for assistance were less stringent, which made compliance easier. The structural reforms required were not always in proportion to the problems faced, or they pursued widely different paths. Some countries’ deficit targets were relaxed more than the economic situation would appear to justify.

So this is basically saying that politics interferes with the economic policy, with some countries getting better deals (or are able to renegotiate – think Ireland) while other countries get worse deals (think Greece, especially the Tsipras government). There is much more to be criticised, like the fact that the Eurogroup is an informal institution now ruling over large parts of Europe. From an auditing perspective, accountability should be a concern.


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