The European Court of Auditors has, for the 15th year in a row, today refused to sign off the EU's accounts.
EU anti-fraud Commissioner Siim Kallas anticipated this predicatable development in a piece on EUobserver yesterday in which he attempted to pin the blame for the mismanagement of EU funds on national governments and regional authorities.
(In classic Commission style, he also tried to ward off all critcism and shut down debate by getting in there first with the trademark 'anti-EU' jibe: "some quarters will yet again use the report to promote their own anti-EU agendas, which have little or nothing to do with the report's findings.")
But, as we argue today in a new briefing, the problem is with the EU budget itself. It is dominated by two failing policies which even the current UK Government is essentially opposed to: the Common Agricultural Policy, and the so-called Structural Funds. The sheer size and complexity of these two top-down spending programmes means the EU's budget is wide open to waste and mismanagement, regardless of whether the blame lays with the Commission or the member states. The budget therefore represents extremely bad value for taxpayers' money.
Also, while mismanagement of the accounts continues to be problematic, arguably the most important issue is the fact that the EU budget is hugely wasteful and irrational in terms of what the money is actually spent on, and where the money is spent.
To illustrate this, we have today published a light-hearted list of 50 new examples of EU waste, which may make you smile and despair in equal measure.