Once again the EU accounts came under the scrutiny of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) and came up short.

For the sixteenth year in a row the EU has been unable to balance its books to the full satisfaction of its own auditors.

This will come as little surprise to anyone. But it does not sit well at a time when all the EU nation states are being forced into austerity packages to stay afloat whilst the EU itself demands a 6% increase in its own budget and demands that it inspects each country's accounts before they announce their budgets.

Overall the 2009 accounts were declared a 'true and fair' representation, but errors were highlighted amongst 92% of the spending. That is £94 billion out of the £102 billion total spend. This included the improper award of contracts worth more than £4 billion.

There are also questions over the return (if any) of money paid out incorrectly. "Recoveries of irregularly paid amounts is not completely reliable" said the auditors.

The ECA president, Vitor Manuel da Silva Caldeira said that the audit had not been signed off due to many areas being 'materially affected by error'. "Error rates remain high," he said "Errors come mainly from incorrect claims for payment and public procurement errors."

The Europhiles will claim that the accounts are getting better every year and the Eurosceptics will claim that it is proof of a corrupt organisation and that the UK should leave the EU forthwith.

The Europhiles could claim that this is a small price worth paying to keep out trade with the EU intact. Somehow implying that if we were to withdraw the English Channel and airspace above it would become a no-go zone and all lines of communication irreparably severed.

The Eurosceptics will try to use this audit report as a brickbat without acknowledging the moves (albeit at a glacial pace) that the Commission have made to improve the transparency of the accounts. But as the New York Times puts it, the accounts were 'Presented in a dense manner almost guaranteed to make its findings opaque, the document does not seek to say how much money has disappeared in fraud or mismanagement. Instead it highlights 'errors' a category that includes small mistakes as well malpractice.'

On overall balance I am on the side of the Eurosceptics. The EU has had 16 years to get its act together and it looks like it will take another 16 years just to get it a few percentage points better. I do not relish them raiding my tax just to keep this fraud going.

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