Report on the National Statement 2015
The National Statement is the method used by the Cabinet to render itself accountable to the European Commission and the Dutch House of Representatives in relation to European subsidies that are jointly administered by the Netherlands and the European Commission, and the regularity thereof. In this report, we present our evaluation of the 2015, which we believe provides a sound and well-substantiated account of the management and control systems pertaining to the regularity of these financial transactions. Furthermore, the National Statement 2015 has in our estimation been drawn up in accordance with the relevant and appropriate procedures and standards. However, without wishing to detract from these conclusions, we would also like to draw attention to some potential improvements to the management and control systems pertaining to the European Fisheries Fund and ERDF West, among others. We would also like to advise the Cabinet, as we have in previous years, to consider including transfers in the National Statement. In our opinion, administration pertaining to these transfers should form part of the National Statement. This would establish EU accountability for each Member State concerning both revenues from EU (subsidies) and payments made to the EU.
National Statement 2015
The European Commission is able to fund European subsidies from the funds that it receives from the Member States. No information is included in the National Statement regarding the administration of transfers to Europe, however. This means that the National Statement includes no account of, for example, the (net) additional assessment demanded by the European Commission in autumn 2014, which amounted to €642.7 million. We would once again urge the Minister of Finance to include transfers made by the Netherlands to the European Union in the National Statement. Unfortunately, the Cabinet will not adopt the course of action recommended and include such transfers in the National Statement, citing the position that it has taken previously on this matter and referring to the fact that the ultimate net effect of any additional assessment depends on changes made affecting other Member States.
We would like to reiterate our position that the inclusion of transfers to the EU would be a useful addition to the National Statement. We believe that their inclusion in the National Statement would contribute to a clearer understanding of the system used in relation to potential additional assessments. As such, it would help to ensure that additional assessments do not come as a surprise.
Government’s response and afterword by the Netherlands Court of Audit
On 13 May 2015, we received a Cabinet response from the Minister of Finance in relation to our draft report. The Cabinet is grateful for the assessment of the Netherlands Court of Audit relating to the National Statement 2015 and will continue to address the issue of the proper use of EU resources in order to maintain the current positive assessment. We are pleased to confirm that the Cabinet accepts (the essence of) the recommendations included in our assessment of the National Statement and, where necessary, will take specific measures to make improvements.
Regarding the National Statement
The National Statement is the method used by the Cabinet to render itself accountable to the European Commission and the Dutch House of Representatives in relation to European subsidies that are jointly administered by the Netherlands and the European Commission, and the regularity thereof. In addition to the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden also draw up such an annual statement voluntarily, thereby setting a good example. The Parliaments of these three Member States are thus able to hold the relevant ministers to account and demand that they improve the way in which EU subsidies are administered. Unfortunately, other Member States have yet to follow suit in this regard. In our opinion, this is necessary in order to maintain closer scrutiny of the way in which EU funds are spent in the Member States. The Member States spend around 80% of EU funds in partnership with the European Commission.
Up-to-date information on how EU funds are spent and accounted for can be found at http://www.eu-verantwoording.nl/.