EU misspent 5.5 billion euros last year, auditors find

The European Union spent about 5.5 billion euros (6.1 billion dollars) of its 2015 budget in error, the bloc's auditing body announced Thursday, while warning of a loss in citizens' trust.

The European Court of Auditors' (ECA) annual report comes at a time of soul-searching across the EU, following Britain's shock decision to leave the bloc, which is seen in part as a manifestation of broader euroscepticism.

"People cannot even begin to trust the EU institutions if they do not believe we are looking after their money properly and keeping a good account of how we are doing that," said ECA chief Klaus-Heiner Lehne.

The irregularities affected 3.8 per cent of the EU's budget for 2015, down from a 4.4-per-cent error rate the previous year.

The auditing court would like to see a rate of less than 2 per cent.

The Luxembourg-based watchdog said that - as in the previous year - the most errors were found in regional aid granted to EU member states and in spending meant to boost growth and job-creation, which are both priority areas for the bloc.

EU member states and the bloc's executive, the European Commission, corrected some of the irregularities, preventing the error rate from reaching 5.5 per cent, the court found.

But "more errors could have been corrected," it said in a statement, calling on the commission to make "full use" of its powers to reduce errors further and recover misspent funds.

Last update: Thu, 13/10/2016 - 11:49

More from Europe

Italy police arrest seven linked to online global paedophile network

Seven paedophiles linked to a global online network that counted tens of thousands of affiliates have been arrested...

Turkey now top 10 destination for German arms amid refugee crisis

Turkey has jumped into the top 10 in the rankings of destinations for German arms exports as Ankara responds to...

EU proposes corporate tax reforms to cut red tape, tackle abuse

The European Commission unveiled proposals Tuesday aimed at streamlining corporate tax rules across EU member states...

EU Parliament lifts Le Pen immunity over alleged racial slur

The European Parliament on Tuesday lifted the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France's far-right...

Sweden lowers projection for number of asylum seekers in 2016

Tighter border checks introduced by the European Union and individual European states were Tuesday cited as the main...