The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has said
accusations by a former member that it operated in a “culture of
cover-up” are “unfounded”.

The former Dutch court member Maarten Engwirda
claimed that court’s reports on the financial health of the EU had
been subject to political interference, specifically before

In an official response, the ECA said it
considers Engwirda’s views to be “unfounded”, adding it “performs
its activities in accordance with the highest international
standards of professionalism, independence and impartiality, as
shown by the peer review conducted in 2008.”

According to Engwirda, the worst practices
took place before 2004 and when the EU grew from 15 to 25 members,
the problem began to diminish.

In 2008, the ECA’s procedures changed and the
national audit offices reviewed its work, which Engwirda claimed
eliminated bad practices.

For example, Engwirda alleged there was strong
pressure from France to bury a notorious fraud case involving the
Flechard dairy company and abuse of EU butter export subsidies
worth tens of millions of euros in the 1990s. Engwirda said the
culture had led him to threaten to resign as head of the

The ECA also said its contribution to
improving EU financial management is recognised by the budgetary
authorities of the European Union – the European Parliament and
Council – and all members exercise their duties with independence
in accordance with the EU Treaty.

Engwirda plans to write a book about his
experiences this year.