Could growing evidence of financial irregularities in the European Union's $119 billion budget topple yet another European Commission? In a report to the European Parliament on Nov. 17, the EU's Court of Auditors refused to sign off on the 2002 budget, citing ineffective spending controls and financial irregularities. The pressure on EC President Romano Prodi is mounting, even though he has proposed the appointment of an EU prosecutor to combat fraud. Parliamentarians will vote in January on whether key members of Prodi's commission should take responsibility for their failure to crack down on fraudulent activities exposed at the EU's statistics unit, where millions of dollars in taxpayers' money have disappeared. In 1999, the EC collapsed after charges of misconduct.
Edited by Rose Brady