Brussels has been dragged into a bogus accounting scandal after it was claimed climate change spending had been overblown by at least €24 billion.
The European Court of Auditors has questioned the European Commission’s claims about its climate-change programmes. It was found the European Union’s powerful executive had substantially overestimated the amount it spent on preventing global warming though the use of clever-accounting. Farmers have been handed cash subsidies which have been counted as agriculture-based spending aimed at climate protection by the Commission.
Eurocrats pass off their subsistence payments to farmers as climate spending, as long as the farmers fulfil a certain level of climate standards.
The ECA said in its report the Commission had overstated the current 2014-2020 budget’s contribution to tackling climate change.
They warned the same was likely to be true for the next seven-year cycle.
The auditors said:
Our analysis of Member State rural development programmes in the same report showed that the Commission was overestimating their contribution to climate action by more than 40 percent, or almost €24billion.
This is because the Commission did not adequately distinguish between climate contributions made by different activities.
The Commission justified this approach by the need to strike a balance between minimising the administrative burden and costs and providing a reasonably reliable estimate for climate-related spending within the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.”
ECA auditor Joelle Elvinger called on the Commission to develop more robust methods for tracking its spending.
The anticipated contributions to climate-related spending, in particular from some agricultural schemes, are likely to be overstated.
“Without a robust methodology, the estimated climate spending may not be reliable.”
Agriculture spending is expected to make up nearly half of the climate spending from the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget, which has been muted at a total of €1.075trillion.