In this edition of Brussels, my love?, we discuss all things EU money with our special guest, the president of the European Court of Auditors, and we explore how EU conversations on spending have now moved into the field of defence.
Our guests this week are Tony Murphy, the President of the European Court of Auditors, Vlad Gheorghe, the Romanian MEP from the Renew Europe group and investigative journalist Lise Witteman from Follow the Money.
Panelists dive into the complex topic of EU funds and hear now the EU Court of Auditors are juggling several aspects of the EU budget from the environment and cohesion funds to European public administration.
“We’re one of the seven EU institutions, but unfortunately we’re not as well known as we should be,” said Tony Murphy.
“We’re trying to ensure that the taxpayer can trust that their money has been spent in accordance with the rules. But secondly, that the objectives of the different policy areas are being achieved, which obviously has an impact on their daily lives.”
The Luxembourg-based organisation has expanded since the pandemic and the launch of the EU Recovery and Resilience Fund. Guests discussed the transparency of the money and the usefulness of this fund given the changing times with countries like Italy struggling to absorb the funds.
“We need a one-stop shop for transparency. So every single euro that we spend from the taxpayer’s money needs to be traceable. You need to see it went to the actual beneficiaries. So no excuses, no exceptions on that.” said Vlad Gheorghe.
The panel also discussed defence spending in Europe.
The European Parliament backed a draft bill on Thursday. The Ammunition Production Act (ASAP) would increase European ammunition production and allocate 500 million euros towards this goal.
The Romanian MEP said this is important, “I think it’s a great title for this (bill) because we needed it yesterday. We need to move fast because reality doesn’t wait for us to do our usual papers, our usual Brussels dance.”
For Lise Witteman, this is a very new topic for the EU which she compared to a piece of paper.
“The big overall question is are we going to go in the direction of a European army, European defence force, how would that look, and I think those questions actually should be answered first before you start throwing money at it.”
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