Today's Mail has picked up on a report by the EU's anti-fraud office OLAF which calculates that the EU loses £2 million pounds of its funds a day to fraud. It put the cost of all EU fraud between 1999 and 2005 at £4.4 billion.
The EU's response to this shocking news? EU Anti-Fraud Commissioner Siim Kallas (who was himself accused of siphoning off 3.5 billion roubles when he was Governor of the Central Bank of Estonia) adopted the classic approach of half admitting that there used to be a problem and then going on to emphasise that everything is much better now. "New anti-fraud procedures have been introduced" etc.
Kallas' arguments might have been convincing if it wasn't for the fact that the auditors refused to sign off the EU's accounts for a 12th year running in November.
The auditors found, for example, that half of all cattle declared by farmers in Slovenia (in order to qualify for grants) did not exist, while a quarter of sheep and goats had similarly "disappeared". In Spain, Greece and Italy, payments worth over 2bn euros for olive oil producers were either inflated or wrong. Worse still, in Greece the statistics that are used to determine who gets what from the CAP are controlled by the Greek Farmers’ Union.
Things certainly aren't all rosy in the garden yet...