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The priorities of the Estonian Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers are being outlined to parliamentary committees by ministers in a series of meetings taking place in July.

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Following an exchange of views with the members of the Committees on Budgets, Budgetary Control and Legal Affairs, a majority of the committees’ coordinators were satisfied that Commissioner Günther Oettinger is in a position to assume the portfolio that is transferred to him and look forward to a close working relationship.

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The European Commission managed its 2014 EU budget funds according to the rules, so Parliament should grant it a 'discharge' (i.e. approval), for that year, the Budgetary Control Committee said on Thursday. Parliament’s own management of EU funds in 2014 was also approved, in a separate vote.

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Three joint private sector-EU technology projects must do better justifying their use of EU funds in 2014 before the European Parliament approves their accounts, said Budgetary Control Committee MEPs on Tuesday. Parliament should also postpone granting “discharge”, that is, approving the spending of the Council of Ministers and the European Council (EU leaders) for the same year, the committee recommended to the full House.

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MEPs urge EU member states to claw back EU funds lost through fraud or irregular spending, and the EU Commission to use its executive powers to help them to fight fraud and tax avoidance, in a resolution passed by the Budgetary Control Committee on Thursday. The resolution, on how EU funds were spent in 2014, also asks the Commission to assess member states’ corruption-fighting performance each year and to maintain its strict policy on suspending payments in the event of spending irregularities.

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The EU should better align its spending with its political priorities, carefully considering the intended objectives before allocating EU funds. And this new approach should be adopted as quickly as possible, so the EU can better react to current and future crises, said MEPs in a debate on the European Court of Auditors (ECA) report on the 2014 budget on Tuesday.

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Parliament should not endorse spending by the European Council and the Council of the EU for 2013 because they have failed to provide the information and documents requested, the budgetary control committee said on Tuesday. Parliament has refused toclear the Council´s accounts every year since 2009.

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The European Commission managed its 2013 EU budget funds according to the rules, so Parliament should grant it a “discharge” (approval) for that year, said the Budgetary Control Committee on Tuesday. MEPs nonetheless criticised high administrative error rates in agriculture, regional and employment policy spending, which is managed mainly by EU member states. Parliament’s own management of EU funds in 2013 was also approved, in a separate vote.

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EU accounts should measure the achievements of EU-funded projects, and not just payment errors, said Budgetary Control Committee MEPs debating the European Court of Auditors (ECA) annual report on EU spending in 2013 on Wednesday. Data from member states on how they spend EU funds are too often unreliable, they added. The ECA presentation marks the start of the 2013 "discharge” exercise in which Parliament vets spending. The overall error rate in 2013 was 4.7%, slightly down on 2012.

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Parliament should not sign off spending by the European Council and the Council of Ministers for 2012, due to their repeated failure to co-operate with its efforts to check the accounts, the Budgetary Control Committee unanimously advised on Tuesday. But it should clear spending by the Riga-based Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), whose budget management, procurement and recruitment shortcomings, highlighted in April 2014, have now been corrected, it adds.

       
 

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