To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the European Union's Court of Auditors has been able to ratify the European Union's accounts for the past 14 years; and, if not, why the European Union is permitted to propose regulation for the City of London. [HL4086]I trust that makes everyone a great deal happier.
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has regularly given a positive statement of assurance on the reliability of the EC accounts. The UK Government are pleased that, for the first time, the ECA's report on the 2007 EC Budget gives an unqualified positive statement of assurance on these accounts.
It is disappointing that for the 14th year in succession the ECA was unable to give a positive opinion on the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions for the majority of EC Budget expenditure. Nevertheless, it is encouraging that the percentage of Budget expenditure that has been given a positive opinion has been increasing, currently 40 per cent, up from 35 per cent in 2005 and only 6 per cent in 2003.
Under the treaty the Commission proposes draft legislation for the single market in financial services which applies to the City and financial institutions across Europe.