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EU Accounting - Making Government Accounting look good

Marta Andreasen - August 2012

Based on the authors’ direct experience of the inner workings of the European Union this article argues that the procedures within this supranational institution make the relatively poor standards of national government accounting look good. The current version of the Financial Regulations and Implementing Rules applicable to the general budget of the European Communities meets the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) criteria in theory, but the author provides examples to show that the practice is very different.

I have held the position of Chief Accounting Officer at the European Commission before becoming an MEP.  So I have direct experience of the inner workings of a supranational governmental organisation - the European Union – which make the relatively poor standards of national government accounting look good.

 

The European Union as an accounting entity is large but not overwhelmingly so.  For 2012 the budget for all the European institutions allows for commitment appropriations of €147.2bn and payment appropriations of € 129.1 bn. [1] To put these figures into context, the general government spend for Greece in 2011 according to Eurostat [2] was €107.8 bn.  That of Denmark was around €138.9 bn - the government spend of these two countries is closest in size to the EU budget.  Greece has a population of around 11 million and Denmark around 5.5 million, compared with a total population for the Member States of around 502.5 million.

 

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