The financial tensions that have sharply exposed the fault lines among the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) in recent months could have been predicted years ago, according to an expert who helped control the EU’s purse strings.
Marta Andreasen, an Argentine-born Spanish accountant who served as the European Commission’s chief accountant a decade ago, summed it up succinctly during her Oct. 31 talk at the Columbus School of Law.
“Having wasted a lot of taxpayer’s money, there is no economic improvement in Europe. And they continue to ask for money,” said Andreasen.
Invited by the CUA Law’s Federalist Society to address "The European Union, the roots of the crisis, why it was inevitable, and how it affects the U.S.," Andreasen painted a hair-raising picture of the accounting practices of her former employer.
Andreasen is what Americans call a whistle-blower, and she went public with her concerns at the time about sloppy accounting, money going to projects that didn’t exist, and general waste and fraud.
Eventually, a crisis of conscience led her to stop signing off of the European Commission’s accounts because of the body’s inability to document or validate where taxpayer’s money went. Ultimately, she was fired for her concerns.
“Maybe it was the frustration of finding out that the projects I thought would unite Europe, divide Europe,” said Andreasen, describing her refusal to sign checks.
The EU’s carelessness with money has serious consequences, she said. Greece, for example, has received 60-billion euros in the past ten years. Today, it is broke and asking fellow member states for a bailout.
“Where did the money go?” wondered Andreasen. “Out of my experience, I have turned Euro-skeptic. It cannot be reformed.”
She is trying to reform things nonetheless. After her sacking by the European Commission as chief accountant, Andreasen returned to public life by being elected as a Member of the European Parliament for United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in 2009.