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 Full text 
Tuesday, 26 March 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Discharge 2017 (debate)

  Jonathan Bullock, on behalf of the EFDD Group. – Mr President, just as a recap for those in the real world watching this debate, we are discussing the discharge procedure where MEPs have a look through the budgets of all the different EU agencies and institutions and give political approval whether to sign off on their financial activities. No bad thing in principle, as it is one of the few ways to hold these shadowy, behind-the-scenes agencies to account, but the procedure, I would argue, lacks some actual clout.

One of the biggest talking points has been the European Asylum Office, which has a budget of EUR 86 million. The Court of Auditors gave an adverse opinion on the legality of its payments. It has had a bad recent history, with high-ranking officios being removed and replaced, due to alleged harassment, misappropriation of funds and breaches of data protection, to name but a few.

If we look at the European Parliament budget for 2020, it will be increased to over EUR 2 billion. On top of that, in the Committee on Budgets (BUDG) last night, you approved over EUR 3 million for 51 contractual agents to boost media relations and digital communications activity in the Member States in order to build a so-called pan-European community ahead of the European elections. This sort of state—sponsored propaganda machine is exactly what I oppose and will continue to oppose to protect taxpayers’ money.

If Theresa May survives in the short term and continues the Brexit betrayal, she says she will meet all financial obligations to the EU, despite there being no legal obligation. So, under the Tories, if the withdrawal agreement deal goes through, the British taxpayers are on the hook for GBP 39 billion. For these reasons, I’ll be voting against the accounts of these EU agencies. All these matters and policy areas handled by EU agencies should be operated by democratically elected national governments, either on their own or bilaterally.

Last updated: 26 June 2019Legal notice