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Why Now? 

This is the story of my experience at the European Union, a 
story that started in the Spring of 2001 and has not yet come 
to an end. 

In these eight years I have come across people of different 
nationalities and cultural backgrounds, many of whom 
showed astonishment and at the same time admiration for 
my courage. Some would consider me a martyr* some a 
heroine, and there were also those who appeared so 
understanding that I guessed they had lived through a similar 

fimf*!*! fin a* 

But I did not set out to become a martyr or a heroine, nor did 
I seek to become a public figure. It is because of the legal 
constraints of my case for wrongful dismissal* and thanks to 
my somewhat reserved personality, that it has taken me such 
a long time to write this book. 

I have often been asked about the principles which guided me 
to adopt such a "courageous" attitude. 1 believe it can only be 
the result of the education received from my family 
and school: down to earth, common sense, realistic and 

courageous woman, as from my point of view, I was "simply 
doing my job". 1 was hired to reform a deficient accounting 


and financial management system and that Is what I was 
trying to do. Under the EU treaties 1 was legally responsible 
for all the cash and assets of the EU. To fulfil that 
responsibility, I looked for support from the EU's political 
masters, but I did not get it. 

When I joined the European Union I had almost 25 years of 
professional experience in financial management, mostly in 
the private sector, and a proven record of having done the 
right thing even in extremely difficult business situations. 
Should I give my reputation up for a well paid, theoretically 
powerful and life long job, with a generous pension at the end 
of it? It was a difficult decision. 

I had many sleepless nights. I had to consider not only my 
own future life but that of my family, who had supported 
me all along. One night my husband gave me the crucial 
answer: "However much you try to ignore your nature you 
will never be able to sleep in peace if you bend to their 
demands." He was right. I had to respect my nature, and go 
wherever it led me. 

Apart from the pressure to sign, and so authorize accounts 
and payments which I couldn't trust at all, what amazed me 
most was the arrogance which reigned in the institutions of 
the EU. There was no effort to show there was any 

commitment to transparency and accountability; no effort to 
show they might allow me the independence to decide what 

was the best way to reform the accounting system. 

The other aspect that amazed me was how much all these 
bureaucrats had departed from the real world. It did not 
occur to them that somebody would challenge their long 
sustained arguments; it did not fit into their minds that a 
professional accountant would make her own evaluation 
without adhering to the state of denial in which they wished 
to live. They simply could not believe that anybody would 
be prepared to risk their job - that of European 



Commission Chief Accountant, with the highest level of 
responsibility for EU funds - their pension and their 
professional career for the sake of defending integrity and 
getting the truth into the open. 

No other civil servant in the EU has ever been treated in the 
way I was, with such disregard for human rights and cynical 
willingness to silence the truth. Not even those who were 
proved to have committed very serious offences were treated 
in such a harsh and denigrating manner. 

Indeed, possibly no other case than mine has shown better 
how easily a bureaucracy - without any kind of external 
constitutional mechanism to correct or qualify its procedures 
- can become a tyranny. 

And, crucially, the European Union's accounting systems 
remain in as lamentable state as ever - absorbing many 
billions of pounds of our money. 

Yet this is the body in which European politicians appear 
determined to invest even more power, as the heart of a 
unified political entity. 

I have written this book for those who cherish freedom, 
honest government and the true interests of the nations and 
peoples of Europe. 

July 2009 

Note: A name marked with an asterisk at its first mention is 
not the real name. 





How the EU Works 

THE COMMISSION (unelected) has the monopoly of 
proposing all EU legislation, which it does in secret. Can also 
issue "Regulations", which are automatically binding in all 
Member States. It is run by a College of 27 Commissioners, 
currently one for each Member State, who are appointed for 
5 years at a time. It has 37 branches, or "Directorates 
General", each run by a Director General. The "DGs" are the 
real bosses, and can rule for many years. 

COREPER. The "Committee of Permanent Representatives", 
or bureaucrats who represent the Member States. A shadowy 
body, where the national horse-trading on the Commission's 
legislative proposals takes place, still in secret. The agreed 
versions of their proposals go to the Council of Ministers and 
the European Parliament for approval. 

THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS from Member States passes 
EU legislation, often by majority voting, and again in secret. 
The UK has 8.4% of the votes. Sometimes has to consult the 
European Parliament. Has the final say on Commission 
proposals, and could have supported Miss Andreasen. 

elected every 5 years. The UK has 78. The Parliament cannot 
propose legislation but it can delay and even block it. In 
practice the MEPs do not want to de-rail their famous gravy 
train, so the 'project' proceeds. Can override the Commission 
on employment matters, and also could have supported Miss 



Andreasen. (There are informal agreements which say that 
one EU institution should not interfere in the internal affairs 
of another.) 

THE COMMISSION (again) becomes the sole enforcer of all 
EU legislation and decisions, supported when necessary by: 

(ECJ or LCJ). This is not an independent court of law; it is the 
engine of the "ever closer union of the peoples of Europe" 
required by the EU Treaties. It is financed by the EU, and has the 
final say on all EU matters, including employment cases. There 
is no appeal against its verdicts. 

before they reach the Luxembourg Court of Justice (above). 

THE COURT OF AUDITORS, which is also financed out of 
the EU budget, is supposed to guarantee the proper use of EU 
funds to taxpayers. It has been unable to do this for the last 14 
years. There are no external auditors. 

Lord Pearson of Rannoch 
May 2009 



By Lord Pearson of Rannoch 

If you want to go on hoping that the EU can he 
"reformed from within] dont read this hook. 

To anyone used to the disciplines of running a company in 
this country, the story which follows is very difficult to 
believe. And yet it is true. Billions of pounds of our taxpayers' 
money are being sent every year to the European 
Commission in Brussels, where they are literally unaccounted 
for. Double-entry bookkeeping and accrual accounting are 
strangers in the land. The EU's internal auditors have refused 
to sign off its accounts for the last 14 years. There is no 
independent auditor. 

Yet this is the same EU which presumes to tell us how to run 
so much of our lives, including our financial services and 
accounting practices. 72% of the cost of UK regulations in 
the last 10 years has been imposed by Brussels, for a total of 
£106.6 billion, or more than £10 billion per annum. 1 When 
you add in our share of EU spending, higher food costs and 
our hard cash, our membership may be costing us around 8% 
of GDP or £120 billion per annum, with no discernible 
benefit. 2 How has this come about? 

To understand the answer, we have to remember the big idea 
which gave birth to the EU. That big idea was that the nation 
states had been responsible for the carnage of two World 

1 "Out of Contrql? Measuring a decade of EU regulations", by 

2 "The Great European Rip-off", by The 


Wars, and for the long history of conflict in Europe. Those 
nation states, with their unreliable democracies, therefore 
had to be emasculated, and diluted into a new form of 
supranational government, run by technocrats. 3 

From this genesis comes the EU's claim to have brought peace 
to Europe since 1945, which was in fact secured by NATO, 
heavily reliant on American force. The EU also pretends that 
it is needed to preserve that peace in future, which is equally 
untrue. Anyone who dares to challenge this propaganda is 
quickly labelled a Little Englander, a dangerous nationalist, or 
a xenophobic warmonger. The truth must not disturb the 
well-paid dream. 

That original idea also explains why the monopoly for 
proposing all EU legislation still lies with the unelected 
bureaucracy: the Commission. Its draft laws are negotiated in 
Coreper (the Committee of Permanent Representatives), or 
bureaucrats from the member states, and agreed in the 
Council of Ministers, mostly by majority voting. The UK 
Government has some 8 per cent of that vote, and must 
accept whatever is decided. It still has a veto in some areas of 
our national life, but does not want to appear "anti- 
Communautaire" and so does not dare to use it. The whole 
process takes place in secret, and now imposes a large 
majority of our national law. The Commission then becomes 
the sole enforcer of all EU law, supported when necessary by 
the Luxembourg Court, against which there is no appeal. 

The point is, of course, that this system is not accountable to 
anyone except itself. The British people elect and dismiss 
their Members of Parliament every five years or so, but our 
Parliament has no influence on the process of EU law 
making, or on what Brussels does with our money. 
Westminster is powerless even to query the fraud and waste, 
let alone to stop it. 

3 "The Great Deception" by Christopher Booker and Richard North. Continuum 



Europhiles pretend that the European Scrutiny Committees 
in the Commons and Lords inject an element of democracy 
into all this. But those Committees have no power, can look 
at only a tiny fraction of EU laws, and their suggestions go 
unheeded in Brussels. The Government has indeed promised 
that it won't sign up to a proposed EU law if either 
Committee is still considering it, but has broken that promise 
435 times in the last 6 years. 4 No laws passed in Brussels have 
ever been overturned by Parliament, because the Treaties 
make sure that they can't be; that's the big idea, after all. 

In theory, the European Parliament can block EU legislation, 
refuse to sanction the budget, and even throw out the entire 
Commission. But in reality the MEPs are far too dependent on 
their gravy train to risk de-railing it. The more the EU controls, 
the better for them; national accountability is their enemy. 

Of course our political class doesn't want us to see that it has 
brought us so low; it prefers not to talk about it. Our three 
main parties refuse to support an official cost-benefit analysis 
of our membership, glibly asserting that the benefits are so 
obvious that it would be a waste of time. 5 The Government 
even dares to claim that 3 million UK jobs would be lost if we 
left the EU. But if we threw off the shackles of Brussels 
regulations, and continued in free trade with our friends in 
Europe, jobs would in fact be created. And there really isn't 
any doubt that our free trade with the EU would indeed 
continue, because they sell us more than we sell them. We are 
their largest client. 

Another killer point in the Eurosceptic locker is that only 
some 9% of our gross domestic product goes in trade with 
the EU, in deficit; around 11% goes to the rest of the world, 
in surplus, and some 80% stays right here in our domestic 
economy. But the dictats from Brussels hit the whole of our 

HM GovernmentWritten Answer, House of Lords, 15/1/09, Col. WA166. 
Debates in the-House of Lords 27/6/03, 11/2/04 and 8/6/07. 



economy, meaning that our healthy 91% dog is being wagged 
by its mangy 9% tail. 6 

For good measure the share of UK exports going to the EU is 
shrinking, while our exports to the rest of the world are 
growing. 7 

When pressed on these obvious disadvantages of our 
membership, our politicians say it is justified because being 
in the EU gives them greater influence on the world stage." So 
the EU is remote, inevitable, boring. 

Yet the EU is also a brilliant trap. It is illegal under the Treaties 
which we have signed to repatriate even the smallest power to 
this country without the unanimous agreement of all the 
other 26 member states. So any "reform from within" is so 
unrealistic as to be unobtainable, and is designed to be so. 
The only way out is the door. 

And the controlling bureaucracy in Brussels numbers only a 
few tens of thousands of people. The trick is that their dictats 
have to be executed by the millions of civil servants in the 

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Parliaments, or the people they represent. 

Nothing illustrates better the corruption which such absolute 
power spawns than the story of Marta Andreasen. 

Malcolm Pearson 
House of Lords, July 2009 

5 See Briefing Note no 22. 

7 See Briefing Note no 52. 

8 Debates in the House of Lords on the Lisbon Treaty 2008. 





When I first read the ad it seemed like it could almost have 
been specially written for someone of my background, 
experience and aspirations. The European Commission was 
advertising for a Budget Execution Director. Born in Buenos 
Aires, in Argentina, and educated at an English school there, 
the daughter of a Danish father and with a mother of French 
origin, I had long been trilingual in Spanish, English and 


In the early summer of 2001, T was 46 and had studied 
accountancy and economics at universities in Argentina, 
Spain and the United States. I had worked for some 20 years 
for a variety of British and American multinationals, and 
more recently with the OECD in Paris, My husband, Octavio, 
also an economist, had to travel a great deal working in the 
private sector. 

But between us we had organised it so that there was always 
one of us at home with the children, if the other was 
travelling. Martin, then 19, and 16-year-old Carolina had 
always amply reciprocated our love and worked hard at their 
studies. There was no question that we wouldn't keep our 
home in one of Europe\most handsome and vibrant cities: 
Barcelona. There were direct, two-hour flights to Brussels. So 
what were the problems? 

"What do you think, Octavio?" I asked passing him the copy 


of The Financial Times. Octavio pondered the advertisement 
for a while. "Interesting," he finally pronounced, "but possibly 

Though we had met and married in Argentina, and been 
Spanish citizens for only 15 years, it was long enough to see 
the good side of the European Union. Massive EU subsidies 
had helped transform Spain's primitive infrastructure with 
new roads, bridges, rail links. Indeed, it was exhilarating to 
be part of Spain's maturing democracy, moving steadily 
forward from the dark days of Franco's heavy-handed, 
sclerotic rule. 

My previous job, with the OECD, had not been easy. After 
joining in 1998, as head of accounting, T had noticed serious 
problems with its systems, and raised my concerns with 
management. When I had suggested reforms, they disagreed 
completely. Subsequently, they had hired Arthur Andersen 
to do an independent report which criticized the OECD's 
internal accounting systems as "outdated and inadequate" 
and confirmed the soundness of my proposals. But by that 
time I had been suspended from the job. 

Not even that experience, however, had diminished my 
ambition to work - and, as I then hoped, even do some good 
- in the public sector. 

oo it was that l applied tor tne jiuropean commission jod 
and was delighted to be invited for an interview in mid-July, 
2001, with Jean Maison*, Director General and thus the 
most senior civil servant in the Budget Directorate. Then 
60, of small build, with dark brown eyes and sallow hue, he 
was neatly- dressed in a dark suit. 

Somewhat formal, reserved, he seemed a typical 'Enarque' - 
a product of France's highly-selective Ecole Nationale 
d'Administration and a member of that formidable elite 
which has probably served its country's interests better than 
any other bureaucracy on earth. 


Maison's deputy, Jens Mogen* a large, well-built, fair-haired 
Swede, was also present for part of that first interview. But 
Maison, who had already been in his current, virtually all- 
powerful post of Budget Director General for 13 years, 
clearly dominated his department. 

I flew back to Barcelona with no great hopes. What was it? 
Somehow, I felt that I had not done myself credit. My CV, by 
any standards, had to seem interesting, impressive even - 
certainly in terms of the job they were trying to fill. Yet I had 
managed to find out little more about what that job entailed. 

As Maison clearly struggled with. English, we had switched to 
French half way through the interview. Had that been an 
irritation, a humiliation for him? How comfortable would he 
feel working with a woman in a senior position? 

Somehow, I couldn't put my finger on what it was that was 
niggling me. Maybe it was simply that I had got absolutely no 
spark of warmth from him. He was correct - as one would 
expect of an enarque and Frenchman of his stratospheric 
level. But there was no real sense of him actually welcoming 

Back home at our flat in Barcelona, Octavio was as warm and 
supportive as ever. He was philosophical. "It can't be the end 
of the world, Marta, if you don't get this job." 

We were both aware of the recent turmoil within the 
European Commission, when two years earlier Commission 
President Jacques Santer and all his fellow Commissioners 
had had to resign following revelations by a Dutch EC 
official, Paul van Buitenen, of widespread wrongdoing. 

The detail that thrilled news editors round Europe was the 
fact that Commissioner Edith Cresson, a former French 

lucrative research contract on XlDS - a subject for which he 
had no qualifications. At the end of 18 months - and 


payment of some 136,000 euros - he had produced 24 pages 
of notes which were generally agreed to be of almost no 
scientific value. 

But as an accountant, I knew that if senior figures felt free to 
casually disburse such largesse, there was clearly room to 
improve the Commission's accounting systems. 

After the meltdown of the Jacques Santer Commission in 
1999, there had been an independent committee of five 
"Wise Men" to examine how the Commission dealt with 
cronyism, fraud and mismanagement. They had suggested 
far-reaching reforms. 

While scandals were still being exposed, I chose to believe 
that there had been a change of culture. Further, I 
rationalized that if they were recruiting a professional 
accountant from outside the Commission, with a brief 
to work on the reforms promised in response to the 
"Wise Men's" report, then they must be serious about 
radical change. 

For these reasons, I still felt buoyant when invited for a 
second interview in Brussels on September 11, 2001. Straight 
off a flight from Barcelona, I was for some while out of touch 
with events unfolding 3,000 miles away across the Atlantic. 
For at about the time my interview should have been starting 
- at 3pm Brussels time - the World Trade Center was 
crumbling horrifically in New York. 

For half an hour, secretaries and assistants fluttered round me 
on the 12th floor of the Breydel 1 building, as their bosses 
deliberated on whether they should evacuate the building. 
Maybe this gleaming glass and steel icon of European 
solidarity might also be seen as a legitimate target. 

Wryly, I considered the shambolic security arrangements that 
I had just been through myself on the ground floor of the 
building. After announcing myself as coming for an interview 


with the Secretary General of the European Commission, I 
was just nodded through. My name was on no list. There was 
no ID check and, indeed, nothing to record visitors to the 
building. When I turned towards the security equipment for 
scanning bags and people, I was waved on. "Machine's not 
working," a guard commented nonchalantly. 

Finally, at 3.30pm I was ushered into a vast interview room - 
and was immediately struck by the old-fashioned nature of 
the arrangements. For in the private sector jobs I had applied 
for, there might be many interviews - but never with more 
than one or two people at a time, and usually seated on a sofa 
and easy chairs. 

On this occasion, rather like the defendant in some judicial 
process, I found myself seated alone on one side of a long oval 
table. Sitting opposite was the Commission Secretary General 
John Castle*, a well-groomed, 48-year-old Irishman, Budget 
Director General Jean Maison and some six others. Speaking 
in English, once again we went through my qualifications for 
the job and the experience I had had in handling large 
numbers of staff. 

As we concluded, Castle graciously asked if I had any 
questions. I did. I asked for a fuller description of the job and 
the expectations for the incumbent. 

Immediately, Maison, who had until then been silent, jerked 
forward and complained, in French, that I was turning round 
the whole sense of the interview 

Clearly discomforted by this intervention, Castle smoothed 
things over as best he could. He told me that that sort of 
information would be given to those short-listed for the job. 

I had another question. "What happened to the last person 
who was doing this job?" The answer - not terribly clear and 
which later turned out to be wholly untrue - was that he had 
been sick and had died. \ 


Once again, I returned to Barcelona without any great 
expectations. Indeed, seven days later 1 received an e-mail 
from the Commission's Administration Directorate 
informing me that I had not been selected for the short-list. 
A week after that I was rung up by one of those who had 
interviewed me on September 11, to let me know that 
Commissioner Michaele Schreyer - head of the Budget 
Directorate and therefore Maison's political boss - wanted 
me to continue the recruitment process, despite the fact that 

Surprised, and somewhat bemused, I agreed on the basis that 
further interviews took place in Barcelona. To this they 
agreed - apart from the final interview with Commissioner 
Schreyer herself. 

This took place at the end of October, with just Schreyer, 
Maison and myself, in the Commissioner's office on the 15th 
floor of the Breydel 2 building. A massively wide panoramic 
view over the rooftops of Brussels offered some relief from 
the Commissioner's chosen decor of chairs in chrome and 
purple velvet, and an emerald green carpet. 

x x <_» _i 

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Development and Environmental Protection in the state 
government of Berlin. Green-eyed and fair-haired, formal, 

intense, she came across to me as not terribly sure of herself, 

but a degree warmer than Maison. 

As she had no French, and I had no German, she spoke in her 
uncertain English. With a degree in economics and sociology, 
she showed an intelligent interest in my experience in 
managing large teams, my acquaintance with accrual 
accounting and with a German financial software package 
which she said was being introduced. 

As at the previous meeting, Maison said nothing until 
towards the end. "If offered the job, would you be prepared to 


accept a five-year contract as a temporary worker?" 
Somewhat taken aback, 1 could only respond, "I would have 

For three weeks I heard nothing more until rung at home in 
Barcelona by Schreyer who wanted to know what I felt about 
Maison's proposal of my working on a temporary basis. I told 
her of my reservations. "Surely, this will put me at a 
disadvantage in relation to the more than 130 people on my 
staff all of whom have jobs for life - particularly in view of 
there being a reform programme." I mentioned that I had had 
difficulties with this at the OECD and told her about what led 
to my suspension. 

Schreyer sought to be reassuring and told me that at the 
European Commission I would not have to go through the 

same situation as at the OECD and that the management 
would be supporting me a hundred per cent in all my efforts. 
She added that I would certainly be given plenty of time to 

get well acquainted with the job. 

Following her call there was one from Maison who expressed 
surprise that Schreyer had not yet made me a specific offer. 
Bluntly, he informed me that I was her choice - but certainly 
not his. He went on to offer me a three-year contract, with 
one additional year on automatic renewal 

Politely, I pointed out, "But this is even less than what was 
mentioned at our last meeting," I told him that I would think 
about it and get back to him as soon as possible. 

Before I had had a chance to do so there was an e-mail from 
one of Maison's staff. This pointed out that the Administration 
Directorate had informed them that the contract could only be 
for two years - plus the one for automatic renewal. At that 
point, I rang Schreyer to tell her that under these conditions I 
could not accept the offer. She was not in her office and so I left 
my message with her cabinet assistant. 


And that I thought was that. 

Three weeks later - it was now early December 2001 - I 
received an e-mail grandly informing me that the European 
Commission had approved my nomination as Accounting 
Officer and Budget Execution Director as a permanent 
official. This was the first time that the Commission had 
mentioned my recruitment using two different titles. They 
went on to inform me that, in the course of discussions on 
my appointment, they had discovered that the Accounting 
Officer of the European Commission could not be a 
temporary employee. Brilliant! 

There was also the formality of my having to pass a medical 
examination - which had to be done in Brussels - and had to 
be done quickly as they now wanted me in post by January 1, 
2002. So after five months of prevarication, confusion and 
delay, it was now all systems go. 

Mystery deepened when, before I had even received the letter 
confirming the details of my appointment, I got an e-mail 
from one Charles Cash*, head of the Treasury Unit - one of 
the five unit heads who would be reporting to me in my new 
post in the Budget Directorate. Would he be able to see me 
when I came to Brussels for my medical? He knew the date. 

Somewhat premature - and barely appropriate - I knew that 
such a meeting would really not be convenient. I was making 
only a flying visit to Brussels for the medical. I was in the 
midst of organising a family Christmas in Barcelona and had 
about a thousand other things to do before starting a new job. 

Yet I didn't want to appear inflexible or unfriendly. Somewhat 
reluctantly, 1 agreed to meet at my hotel the night before the 
medical. With the flight delayed by an hour, it was already 
11pm when I finally got to my hotel on the icy night of 
December 15. 

In the almost deserted hotel lobby, a figure in immaculate 
dark blue coat, and with Homburg hat, rose to greet me with 


the most gracious of smiles. A 62-year-old Briton, with 
thinning white hair and of impeccable dress, Charles Cash set 

off on a rambling explanation of the security arrangements 
being made in the 'European quarter' of Brussels for the 
forthcoming Laeken council. This was being held to make the 


So why did we have to go into all of this at that time of night? 
I was bone tired. 1 just wanted to go to bed. But then 
fumbling in his pockets for some document to do with my 
recruitment, Cash suddenly switched the subject and referred 
to the Budget Director General as a not at all easy man to 
work with. Bright, very bright, but he could treat people quite 
harshly. Cash was afraid I might find him rather discouraging 
about any changes 1 might have in mind. 

Speechless for a moment, I was now doubly on my guard. 
Warily, I restricted myself to murmuring generalities about my 
hopes **.. of having a good relationship with everyone, 
particularly with the staff on whom I know I will have to rely." 

In bed, I pondered the oddity of the meeting. Could this man 
actually be an emissary from Maison himself - in a last 
desperate effort to make me turn down the job? 



My First Month 
in Office 

On January 3, 2002, still full of enthusiasm, I arrived to find 
Euro-Brussels almost deserted. As instructed, I went to the 
Administration Directorate to find that they had absolutely 
no record of my recruitment. With my name not on their 
database, they were unable to register me or even issue me 
with a badge. "Your file should have been completed by the 
office of the Budget Director General" (Maison again.) 

"Why not call the Personnel Directorate?" I suggested. "They 
were the people who issued the letter confirming my 
employment " But that did nothing to sort out the problem. 
They said the Budget Directorate should have completed my 

file so that they could process my recruitment. But they had 
failed to do this before my arrival and most of their staff were 
now on holiday. 

Finally, I made my way to the Budget Directorate building - 
Breydel 2 - to ask Charles Cash, my late-night visitor of two 
weeks earlier, if he could get me into the building. And so, for 
my first two weeks, I had to go in as a Visitor.' 

At least I had an office - and one with a fine view - on the 
eighth floor of the building, with an outer office with desks 
for two secretaries. The shelves in my office were already 




stocked with a complete set of EU Treaties and accompanying 
volumes of regulations. I had plenty to read. 

Cash and the other senior staff I met seemed keen to impress 
upon me the lack of resources and the small amount of 
attention devoted by the Commission to the accounting and 
treasury management of the EU budget. Some of this, I 
dismissed as the usual grumbles of almost every organization 
I had worked in - but I could see that there were some Issues 
that had started long before my arrival. 

Maison himself, in fact, did not appear until my second week. 
Every Monday, he held a meeting in his 13th floor office with 
the four Directors in his Budget Directorate and it was there 
that I met my three Director colleagues, of equivalent grade 2 
rank. Maison graciously welcomed me and then moved 
briskly on to the first item for discussion: the role of the 
v_jOmrnission s internal auq.ii uirectorate, wmcn nao. oeen 
created after the debacle of the Jacques Santer Commission. 

The post of Director General, in this new Directorate, was 
held by a Dutchman, Jules Muis. Although I was still picking 

myself during that meeting, I quickly sensed some sort of turf 
war warming up. 

There was some prim talk about what ".. the role of the new 
post of Director General of Internal Audit should or should 
not be .." from which I deduced that Maison did not 
welcome Muis poking his nose too closely into the affairs of 
the Budget Directorate. 

During this, my second week in office, I met more of my five 
heads of unit, and others on my staff, both individually and 
in groups. I also heard more on the lack of appreciation from 
the hierarchy on their work and financial responsibility. 

Still in that hectic second week, Pierre Sachet*, a Director of 
the Luxembourg-based Court of Auditors, had asked to come 


and meet me, together with a colleague. As this was still only 
my seventh working day in office, I felt that it was far too 
early for such a meeting - but I was then given to understand 
that the meeting was to be something in the nature of a 
courtesy visit. 

Some courtesy visit! No sooner had they sat down in my 
office than Sachet launched into the attack. Sternly, he 
announced that they were expecting a lot from me. During 
the many years they had been criticizing the accounting, 
Maison had ignored all their requests for reform and all they 
had received were promises of change. What they now 
wanted from me was action. 

His colleague, head of unit Wilfred Van Dyck* , next pitched 
in with a blistering diatribe about the accounting, the 
management of the budget, the lack of professional 
knowledge. By that time the Court of Auditors had, for the 
previous six years, refused to approve the EU's annual 
accounts, so one could see they had a point. Nevertheless, I 
was still startled at such a complete lack of discretion with 
someone who had only just joined the organization. Maybe at 
least I would have some valuable allies in any future battles. 

But two weeks later I heard that, with a reorganization of the 
Court of Auditors, those two officials would not be 
responsible for the EU accounts much longer. So why the 
rush to see me? 

At Maison's next Directors' meeting, he referred to the 'draft 
assurance report' from the Court of Auditors for the year 
2000, and asked if I, as Commission Chief Accountant, could 
go along to the Budget Committee of the Council of 
Ministers that same day. Again, I was staggered that I was 
being invited - barely two weeks into the job, and with so 
little warning - to explain any deficiencies in the accounts for 
an entire year when I was not in office. I was still trying to 
find these out for myself. 


The experience - with some 25 of us seated round a large 
rectangular table in the Council's Justus Lipsus building, was 
nevertheless enlightening. The Budget Committee started by 
extending to me their sincere wishes of success in a "terribly 
difficult" job. These pleasantries out of the way, head of unit 
Wilfred Van Dyck and other representatives from the Court 
of Auditors, spoke at length about the deficiencies of the 
accounts for 2000. 

But the reaction of the Council's committee - made up of 
political representatives from the governments of the 
member states - was uniformly mild, verging on the 
narcoleptic. I left the meeting with two key questions in my 
mind. Why were the people there, who ought to know, so 
keen to stress that my job was "terribly difficult?" 

More important, why did those in the upper echelons of the 
EU - both civil servants in the Commission and politicians in 
the Council of Ministers - appear to be in such denial about 
the magnitude of the EU's problems? Did they live in some 
sort of bubble? Didn't they read the papers? Were they simply 
not aware of the scandals being reported almost daily in the 
European press? 

One of the murkiest scandals had originated in my own 
country of Spain, in the cultivation of high-grade flax. With 
subsidies worth five times the support available for cereals, 
farmers had responded by raising flax cultivation from 186 
hectares to 91,000 hectares - an increase of nearly 50,000 per 
cent - in five years. No matter that the flax was of such low- 
grade that it had no conceivable market. 

According to a report by Spain's anti-fraud office, much of 
the crop for which grants were claimed was in any case 
fictitious. Processing plants simply issued false certificates to 
draw in extra subsidies. As Spanish investigators closed in on 
what was happening, much of the evidence and crop went up 
in smoke. Over the course of a nfbnth, there were seven 



separate fires at linen producers' premises. 

Some of the scheme's beneficiaries - costing EU taxpayers up 
to 75 million euros a year - were said to be working in the 
office of the Spanish agriculture minister in the late 1990's: 
Miss Loyola de Palacio. Well illustrating the prevailing EU 
culture, one Spanish government spokesman, widely quoted in 
the European press, sought to explain, "Don't blame Loyola de 
Palacio - blame the Common Agricultural Policy. The EU gives 
lots of subsidies for things that are never consumed, and even 
for things that aren't planted. She was just looking after the 
interests of the farmers, which was her job " 

Two of her ministerial appointees did eventually resign. Miss 
Loyola de Palacio, apparently unaware of flax profiteering by 
her staff, had later moved on to her then current Brussels 
post, controlling one of the EU's largest budgets, as 
Commissioner for transport and energy. (Later still, she was 
to become a Vice President of the Commission.) 

Yet the more I probed into the affairs of my own department, 
the more I could see how the lack of controls made such 
scandals possible. There was little separation of duties - so 
that directors running programmes were also often 
authorising payments. Indeed, when I began going through 
reports and acquainting myself with the computer 
procedures, I could scarcely believe the haphazard way in 
which much of the accounting was done. 

Numbers in the computerized reports often changed from 
day to day. Some of the accounts came in on spreadsheets on 
which anyone could make changes - and thus, if these were 
manipulated, leave no electronic trail. Some of the 
accounting did not even incorporate double-entry book- 
keeping - a system invented by the Italians in the 16th 
century - in which the two effects of every financial 
transaction are recorded: first, where the money comes from 
or goes to and, secondly, what is the item or service that is 
being paid for or received. 



The computer systems were a mess - with sub-systems that 
were not entirely compatible, so that some information was lost 
or corrupted within the interface. Clearly, the people who had 
designed or modified the system knew little about advanced 
computer system capabilities, and even less about accounting. 

Scarify, thousands of payments were being made out of the 
budget every week - for serious sums of money - and I was 
the one who would ultimately bear responsibility for them. 
So, for a start, I asked for a list of all those who could - 
electronically - authorize such payments. But this was not 
forthcoming - ever. 

One of the first things I found out was that the opening 
balance for the EU accounts for 2001 didn't match the closing 
balance for the 2000 accounts. There was a gap of almost 200 
million euros. These accounts were actually published in the 
official journal of the European Union, as all EU accounts 
had been and still are. Had no one noticed? 

When I asked my staff to explain the discrepancy, I was 
informed that these were loans given to third parties and then 
written off. Watching my manners and blood pressure as best 
1 could, I strove to explain that if this had really been the case 
the sums should have been written off in the prior year or the 
new year as non-recoverable. "You can't just have these sums 
disappearing between the two years. All this money was 
provided by European taxpayers." 

The contempt with which this money was being treated 
caused me real alarm. "How could you just write this money 
off?" I asked. "Who would have authorized it?" But I never got 
answers to such questions. And indeed, it was not just one 
specific case that concerned me, but the whole notion that the 
system could operate in this way: that money, not approved 
in the budget, could be advanced to anyone, be called a loan 
and then be written off when the recipient failed to return it. 

Over the next month, I spoke to soime of my staff who were 



not willing to admit to shortcomings in the system. Others, 
however, were clearly embarrassed by the unprofessional way 
in which many of the transactions were carried out and the 
almost arbitrary manner in which financial information was 
passed on from the Commissions various Directorates. 

Soon, I came up against particular problems in the 
"recoveries" section - one of the five units that reported to 
me. As most of the EU budget is paid out in advance - that is 
before the specific programme which has been proposed in 
the budget is actually run - there was clearly ample 
opportunity for loss of control. 

In most private companies, the recovery section would claim 
back money when there was no documentary evidence that 
goods or services had been received. Similarly, in 
organizations like the EU, which pay out subsidies, this 
section would be in charge of recovering funds where there 
was no proper documentation to confirm that the subsidy 
had been used for its approved purpose. But I was amazed to 
discover that in the Commission there was NO central 
register of the recipients of all funds paid out - so the 
recovery process was doomed to failure from the start. 

In the absence of a central register, the information on 
necessary repayments was provided by the Directors General of 
the different Commission Directorates, who in turn had to rely 
on those who had actually been given the money. This is like a 
bank relying on its debtors to tell it how much money it is owed! 

The only record kept centrally by the Accounting Services 
referred to what was known as "direct payments" - that ten 
per cent of the budget paid directly to the supplier of a service 
or goods, which created so much of the controversy over 
fraud and irregularities in the EU accounts. 

Incredibly, nobody appeared to be worried about the control 
of the other 90 per cent of "indirect payments" - where the 
Commission paid funds to a local agency or ministry in one 



of the member states, who then passed on the money to the 
final beneficiary 

I was staggered that the issue had been treated with such 
neglect over the years. The Commission hierarchy could not be 
ignorant of this failure when every year the Court of Auditors 
repeated their same damning criticism of EU accounting. Yet 
every year the stock response was that any gaps in the accounts 
would be replenished by the recovery of overpaid funds - when 
in fact such recovery simply wasn't feasible. 

In the meantime, and as from my second week in office, 
documents for my signature began piling up on the meeting 
table in my office. These documents prompted me to ask for 
more information before I felt able to sign. Most of this 
further information either took a long time to come, or was 
never supplied. 

At a time when I should have been sorting out these and so 
many other basic issues, I became involuntarily involved in 
moving the accounting being done by ISPRA - a 
Commission research centre in Italy - to Brussels. This was a 
move that had been decided on by Maison long before my 
arrival and, technically speaking, could well have been 
handled by others. 

But Maison was insistent - and Charles Cash was also exerting 
ostensibly helpful efforts on this issue. Cash, in fact, had 
already scheduled a meeting for us both to fly down to Varese, 
in Italy, on January 17, the third week after my recruitment. 

On the flight down, Cash assured me that Maison had been 
there to tell staff that the accounting section would be closed 
and that new jobs would be found for those not wanting or 
able to move to Brussels. Only hazily briefed, I was under the 
impression that I would just be part of a discussion that 
involved some dozen senior staff. 

In the event, neither their direct unit head, nor their 



Director General attended the meeting. Just before it 
started, Cash evaporated, making noises about some ".. 
urgent telephone call " 

So it was I - a Commission official for little more than two 
weeks - who had to broach painful issues. As soon as I 
opened my mouth I realized that I was speaking to people 
who couldn't believe what they were hearing. "But Monsieur 
Maison came here two months ago to tell us that there would 
be no closure for at least two years and that everything would 
stay the same," volunteered one. Another stood up to point 
out, "We were specifically told that any rumors we might hear 
about this were wrong " 

In short, as far as I could establish, nothing had been done to 
find these employees new jobs - and yet, as the inadvertent 
bearer of bad news, my name was the one that would be mud 
in that corner of the Commission! 

On behalf of these ISPRA employees, I felt appalled. It stirred 
uncomfortable memories of some of the allegations that had 
been made before the 1999 collapse of the Santer Commission. 
Before that, there had been the pungent comments of the 
British economist Bernard Connolly, a Commission official 
fired after writing his book, The Rotten Heart of Europe: The 
Dirty War for Europe's Money. This targeted what he saw as the 
Commission's "distortion and manipulation" of the facts of the 
EU moving towards a single monetary union. 

"The more blatantly obvious the falsehood, the more 
insistently its perpetrators repeat it. My decision to write this 
book ... was born first of incredulity at the hundreds of 'black 
is white' statements made about the ERM (Exchange Rate 
Mechanism), and then of anger at the treatment given to 
anyone who tried to point out the lies." 

I in l could things still really be that bad? 

When Inter I mentioned to Maison the misunderstanding I 
had had to deal with at ISPRA, the Director General simply 


looked at me, as if bemused that there could have been a 
problem. Clearly, the labour directives that had been pouring 
out of Brussels, instructing employers all round Europe on 
how they should treat - and consult with - their staff, didn't 
carry too much weight within the Commission itself. 

The day after my bruising meeting at ISPRA there was 
another scarcely happier meeting in Brussels. Maison had 
called a meeting at which various matters were to be 
discussed. One of them concerned ".. the annual programme 
of work . " for my department. 

This was in fact the first time that I had heard of this or been 
shown any documentation. There, I saw it written down that 
it was expected that the "accounting reform communication" 
would be completed "within three months of the 
incorporation of the new Accounting Officer." 

Having seen what I already had of the then current system, 
and knowing my need to find out a lot more, I had to tell 
Maison, "I can t possibly commit to that date." Maison was 
not happy. His anger simply increased when he asked who I 
had in mind as project leader for the changes, and I told him, 
"I believe that I should be project leader. Given my experience 
of such reforms, I believe that they will need both a project 
leader and a project manager." 

Then Maison told me whom he had in mind as project 
leader: Mara Villos*. She was a woman who reported to me, 
and at that time was simply acting as head of the general 
accounting unit in the absence of a sick colleague. 

It was obvious that if she continued doing her current job, 
she could not also act as effective project leader. It was like a 
company building a new factory, which still needed a 
competent leader to keep the old one running. 

But as Mara Villos was also present at that meeting, there was 
clearly a limit as to how far that discussion could be pursued. 


As the meeting broke up, Maison's assistant, Theodor 
Lemercier* approached to counsel me, "You must not go 
against the Director General on his decision of project leader. 
He has a very high opinion of Mara Villos and of the work she 
has done." I explained that as Commission Accounting 
Officer, it was only natural that I should lead the reform. But 
clearly, I was having difficulty in picking up on the attitudes 
that seemed to characterize so much of the Commission 

Needless to say that meeting, like so many others, left me with 
a mass of unanswered questions. Why was Maison getting 
involved in an accounting reform for which I was responsible 
as Chief Accountant? Why did he have to decide who would 
lead the reform? If he was so convinced that his choice was up 
to the job, why had they not started the reforms two years 
earlier - rather than waiting for my arrival? 

In a meeting with my staff a couple of days later we discussed 
a draft commentary, prepared in June 2001, on the 
"modernization of the accounting system." This had never 
become final - nor had any of the actions listed in it, by then 
long overdue, ever been brought into operation. 

But what was even more worrying was that the document 
didn't even begin to deal with the really radical changes 
needed to the entire computer system - and for whose 
unreliability I had already seen ample evidence. 

At the next Directors* meeting with Maison, I felt it time for 

me to start reporting on my serious concerns. I spoke at some 
length of the growing list of questions I had asked on 
authorizations and payments that had not been answered. I 

talked of my concern at the apparent incompatibility of two 
of the sub-systems of the computer system that processed 
financial transactions. 

When I finished, no one uttered a word and Maison simply 
moved on to another subject: the future of the EU budget and 



a new Financial Regulation (EU accounting law) on which I 
would have to respond before the Budget Committee in the 

This proposed eliminating the existing "Validity of discharge 
for payment ." In a word, this meant that payments could be 
processed directly to the bank by different Directorates - 
without my staff checking the supporting documents to 
establish that the payment was for the right amount, for the 
approved purpose and was going to the right person. 

I couldn't believe that an institution like the Commission 
would want to operate in such a lax way, particularly after the 
Santer Commission had had to resign over allegations of 
financial mismanagement. When I shared my alarm with 
some of my staff, one of them related, with a knowing smile, 
that when he had mentioned this 'reform' to a friend working 
for a big private corporation, his friend had suggested that it 

eliminate controls. 

But, I still wanted to believe that such a proposal was the 
result of ignorance. 

On January 22, 1 was able to share just a few of my concerns 
with Jules Muis, first Director General of the newly-created 
Internal Audit Directorate. He had rung my secretary to 
suggest a meeting. A tall, white-haired, blue-eyed, fresh-faced, 
affable Dutchman, then aged 57, he was a very different 

had a sparkling career in various private corporations, but 
also well knew the ways of the public sector. Head-hunted to 
sort out a mess at the World Bank, he had served there for six 

years, as Vice President and Controller. 

Although I was naturally guarded in my response to 
questions on how I was getting on with Maison, I spoke of my 
main concerns about the computer system and the changes 
proposed in the new Financial Regulation. He already clearly 



appreciated the enormity of problems facing the 

He referred to an audit he had made on the accounting 
system which revealed serious shortcomings. He had. asked 
Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer to address them 
and allow him to make a full audit - but had so far met with 
massive resistance. This all fitted in with the comments I had 
heard from Maison about Muis at my first Directors' 

Despite the problems he himself faced, Muis still appeared to 
enjoy life, and could joke about Commission staff being 
adept " at steering you into trees and keeping you busy with 
the unimportant things, while the big things are going on 
behind the scenes." Recalling my own calamitous trip to 
ISPRA in Italy, I already well knew what he meant. "If you 
need any help in what you are doing," Muis concluded, "don't 
hesitate to come and ask." 

As money daily poured out of the Commission coffers, I was 
amazed at being given signatory authority before I had 

servant. Indeed, it wasn't until some four weeks after my 
arrival that I was to receive this formal authority - known as 
the nomination act. 

In the event, I was eventually presented with two such 
documents. One related to my role as Chief Accounting 
Officer, the other as Budget Execution Director. Both were 
signed by Romano Prodi, then President of the European 
Commission. But whereas the first came to me directly from 
Prodi's office, the other came from Mai son's office - to be 
signed for by myself - a formality I later realized intended to 
make it clear that I came within Maison's authority as Budget 
Execution Director. But would this restrict my independence? 

While the EU Treaties are clear about the Chief Accountant 
reporting to the College of Commissioners, there was always 



an obscurity about my role as Budget Execution Director that 
I never fully penetrated. Indeed, I was never given a clear, full 
job description for either of the two jobs. 

Lack of clarity bedevilled much of the work of the Commission, 
and I soon found myself dragged into endless internal 
squabbles. One concerned fellow Director Jacques Mon* - who 
was head of the Directorate's central services, responsible, 
among other things, for ensuring the good functioning of the 
computer systems on which financial transactions were 
processed. He wrote me a letter asking me to sort out the 
'reconciliation' of figures - ensuring the consistency and 
compatibility of data coming from different sources - that were 
being fed into two of the computer's sub-systems. 

Circulating this request among my staff, I was promptly told 
that they had just lost - to Mon's team - the very people 
doing the work that they were now being asked to do. I could 
only back them up on that point. 

Next, I was involved in a crisis meeting with the staff in 
charge of Recoveries. They were responsible not only for 
recovering overpaid funds but for collecting fines imposed by 
the Commission. They wanted to discuss the case of a 
company unable to pay a fine because of financial problems. 

As Chief Accountant, I was the only one able to grant 
extended payment terms - provided the company could 
produce a bank guarantee. The meeting with the company's 
representatives took place two hours later - and was also 
attended by staff from the Competition Directorate who had 
imposed the fine. They appeared happy to accept the 
explanation they had been given of the company's financial 
difficulties. I was not. 

In fact, I was puzzled as to how they felt qualified to comment 
on the fined company's financial affairs - and why they had 
brought me to this meeting if they were making such 
judgments for themselves. 


I asked to see the financial statements - and noticed that the 
company was part of a group. I asked for the group statements 
and found them almost identical - apart from the name of the 
company being changed for that of the group. The 
Competition staff seemed to me to be happy to overlook this 
'detail' - and eager to bounce me into accepting the financial 
paperwork as sufficient guarantee. I refused to do so. 

The following day I was invited to attend a working group on 
fines, chaired by the deputy Director General of the 
Competition Directorate. He outlined the problem they had 

when wanting to impose a fine on a company claiming 
insolvency. In a further meeting, his staff drew attention to 
the amount of time involved in analysing the financial 
statements of fined companies. 

"But that is not your job" I pointed out. "That is the job of the 
accounting services - both because of the knowledge required 
and also to avoid a conflict of interest" I went on to stress that 
they should know better than me, given their time with the 
Commission, that the rules were quite clear on not granting 
any extended terms unless a bank guarantee was provided. 

"Do you understand that there could be a conflict of interest 
in your intervening in the negotiation of the payment of a 
fine?" I asked. Heads were duly nodded as they agreed that 
they did. Yet this was certainly not the last time I was hauled 

in to face a stark choice: either agree to payment terms that 
were clearly unacceptable under EC rules - or risk appearing 
an ogre in front of third parties. 

At the last Directors' meeting of that first month, discussion 

would have to sign, for the first time, for the 2001 accounts. I 
spoke again of my concern about the lack of compatibility 
between the two sub-systems in which the transactions were 
processed and the fact that the system did not cover all 
financial transactions. The fundamental problem with the 



Directors General signing the Annual Declarations is that the 
figures they have in their Directorates' systems do not add up 

I said, "This means that the Accounting Services, that's us, 

that do add up. The Directors General then refuse to take 
responsibility for what they consider 'unreliable 5 accounts 

putting into the system." 

Maison then had a brainwave. Why doesn't the Chief 
Accountant send the accounts to the various Directorates - 
signed by him/her assuming responsibility for their reliability 
and accuracy? Everyone - agreeing on the brilliance of this 
solution - looked at me. By now I was far too wise in the ways 
of the Commission - and mindful of my responsibilities as a 
professional accountant - to fall for that one. 

I stressed that we needed to focus on basic problems. "At the 
moment the current system doesn't provide the Chief 
Accountant with the necessary information to sign off such 

Crucially, I also pointed out that it would eventually have to 
be my predecessor who would have to sign off the 2001 
accounts - as I had joined only in 2002. And I added, "I 
haven't yet received the statement of account on handover 
that is standard in any organization." 

During that same meeting I was informed that 1 would have 
to go to the Budget Committee of the Council of Ministers 
for the presentation of the new Financial Regulation that was 
being drafted. I replied that I had not yet been given the 
chance of reviewing or commenting on the draft. "But I have 
heard that they have eliminated certain important controls 
and ttiat worries me. 

Silence and a change of subject were the only immediate 



response to my point. But later Maison made it clear that not 
only did he not want me interfering in any of his plans for 
'reform' embodied in the new Financial Regulation, but that 
he wanted me to be the one to present it to the Council of 
Ministers. If there was any gunfire, I would be the one in the 
front line! 

In later meetings on this issue, I found out that while the new 
regulation was promised for January 2003, the new 
accounting system needed for its implementation was going 
to be available only in 2005. At this point, I could only repeat 
my earlier concerns that the Directors General would never 
assume responsibility for their respective budgets unless we 
provided them with a system that produced reliable figures. I 
also repeated the dangers of weakening the traditional 
controls the Chief Accountant had before authorizing 

"The Chief Accountant remains the person ultimately 
responsible for the assets and monies entrusted to the 
European Union - and therefore has to check the supporting 
documentation before releasing EU funds. I know of no other 
organization in the world where the treasurer makes 
payments without seeing the invoices " 

My comments were not well received and I sensed a growing 
general nervousness about my appearance before the Council 
of Ministers' Budget Committee. The following day I was 
called to a meeting with fellow Director Jacques Mon who 
had clearly been deputed to coach me in what needed to be 
said and not said at that meeting. He was the Director with 
whom I had had most contact when being initiated into my 
job and was in charge of drafting the new Financial 

In our discussions, I still found it scarcely credible that, after 
the debacle of the Santer Commission, more power over EU 
funds was being given to the Directors General, at the same 


time as providing them with a perfect excuse for evading 
responsibility: the unreliability of the accounting system. I 
wondered how the Council of Ministers and the European 
Parliament would react to this - particularly as some MEPs 
appeared to have some notion of the seriousness of the 
situation and they had the power to press for a solution. 

At the Council meeting, Mon spoke at length. There was 
some flak from those who could follow what he was saying 
about the new Financial Regulation, to be introduced in 
2003, being implemented on a new accounting system 

promised for two years later. 

For my part, being under strict instructions about what to 
say, and still feeling new to the job, 1 restricted myself to some 
fairly anodyne additional points about how the new rules 
would affect financial reports - and the way in which they 
managed these matters in the private sector. But I wondered 
whether I would look back on this meeting as a great 
opportunity missed - as a time when I should have at least 
attempted to bring home to the EU's political masters just 
how far short the new regulation was falling from the proper 
management of EU funds. 

Before my first month was up, I was involved in one more 
area of conflict: the European Development Fund. The fund 
was separate from the EU budget as not all member states 
contributed to it and there was no pre-determined budget for 
the year. Its operation had little in common with the EU 
general budget, as it had a different accounting system - and 
its staff felt happy and proud about its functioning. 

When Maison proposed merging it into the EU general 
budget, I thought it made little sense to merge something that 
was working relatively well with something that quite clearly 
wasn't. But as so often with the Commission, there was more 
to this matter than first met the eye. 




Expressing my Views 

From the beginning of February 2002, I came under 
increasing pressure from Mon over the signing off of the 2001 
accounts. Essentially, despite my misgivings expressed at 
meetings with Maison, he wanted my signature on the 2001 
accounts which were to be sent out to the Directors General 
for them to sign their 'annual declarations.' Given the 
impossibility of coming up with one coherent set of accounts 
from the computer system, and as I had joined the 
Commission only in the previous month, I had no intention 
of providing my signature. 

"The signature you need is that of my predecessor" I insisted. 
When Mon suggested meetings in an effort to sort the matter 
out, T pointed out that the person who really needed to be 

there was my predecessor. 

By now, I had established who this was - and he was not the 
one, intimated at my September 1 1 interview, who had taken 
sick and died. That was the predecessor of my predecessor. 
My real predecessor - Paul Lematin* - was actually alive and 
well and still working for the Commission's research centre, 
TSPRA, in Italy. He was the one who, as director of resources 
and a head of unit, should have been there at my first grim 
meeting in Varese. 

When I had first tackled Maison on the subject of my 
predecessor, he had had a slightly different story, again vague, 


about Lematin going through "a messy divorce . ." and 
wanting to get away from Brussels. But that didn't ring true 
either. If he were a family man, surely he would want to stay 
somewhere near his children. My own growing suspicion was 
that he had wanted to get out of Brussels to get away from a 
messy set of accounts. 

When I spoke with Lematin at TSPRA I found him, over the 
course of an hour, to be studiously vague. Every specific 
question was met with sonorous declarations on the need to 
trust your colleagues, the work they do and the figures that 
they produce. 

Wearily, I reminded Mon, "I have not yet received a proper 
statement of account on the official handover of the job." And 
indeed, I never did. 

In the weekly meetings with my staff, I realized that some of 
them grasped these issues only too well. Some mentioned 
that the precise role and independence of the Chief 
Accountant had always been a matter of some uncertainty 
and controversy within the Budget Directorate. They could 
see that implementation of the new Financial Regulation - 
sending out accounts signed by the Chief Accountant to the 
Directors General - would make that role even less clear. 
They appeared alarmed that my predecessor had still not 
drawn up a statement of account on transferring his 
responsibilities to me. 

While I was still trying to resolve these issues, documents kept 
on arriving in my office for signature while answers to my 
questions kept on being more and more delayed. I worked 
late into the night trying to sort out the mounds of 
inadequate paperwork. Looking up the rules in my office, I 
usually found them perfectly sound. Too often they were 
simply not being followed. 

I had a steady barrage of questions for staff in my Treasury 

unit: Who is the beneficiary we are paying this money to? For 



what purpose? Do we have any proof that the work was done? 
Where is this covered in the budget? Why does the EU 
delegation in this country need three separate 
current accounts? 

As time went on, it was difficult not to see the European 

to be robbed. 

Meanwhile, the issue of the unsigned 2001 accounts refused 
to go away. Calls from Mon were getting more frequent. In 
one in which he pressed for my signature, I again offered to 

attend a meeting on the issue as long as Lematin was 
also present. 

At this point Mon told me that I would not last long in the 
European Commission if I did not comply with the 
instructions of the Director General (Maison.) I reminded him 
of my independence as Chief Accountant and he hung up. 

This was the first open warning I had received - and I did not 
feel happy at someone attempting to coerce me in my job. 

At the next Directors' meeting, I got the impression that 
Maison had been fully briefed by Mon about our recent 
disagreement. Maison immediately started lecturing me 
about what he saw as my responsibility in the annual 
declarations. I asked to be given the opportunity to detail in 
professional terms the situation we were facing. 

Once again, 1 explained about the unreliability of the 
accounting system, the importance of the institutions 
accounts, and the responsibility of the Chief Accountant to 
make sure they were correct. I stressed the accountability of 
each person involved in drawing up the accounts - and the 
difficulty of ensuring that accountability with such a 
fundamentally flawed computer system. To myself, I 
wondered how many more times we could keep on going 
over the same old ground. 



All listened in silence. At the end of my speech, Maison 
commented that this was the first time that the Commission 
had a Chief Accountant who was a qualified accountant. He 
said he was beginning to learn, as would our colleagues. 

Later, I was even congratulated by one of my fellow Directors 
on the robustness of my stand. Could this be the beginning of 
a new era .. a new dawn? 

Alas, not. In the days which followed I realized that I might as 
well have saved my breath. Though there were a series of 
meetings, chaired by Deputy Director General Jens Mogen, to 
consider my points, they never ended with any specific plan 
of action. Any proposals I made for new computer systems - 
even those needed on the grounds of direst necessity - were 
waved away on account of "budget limitations." 

When I again raised these issues at the next Directors' 
meeting, I was told of a report from the Court of Auditors - 
which I had not yet seen. Maison had and was reported to be 
disgusted with its contents, I asked to have a copy - and was 
told that it had already been sent to my office. 

With Maison alone, I took the opportunity of mentioning, 
again, the need for my predecessor to produce a proper 
handover document, with a signed statement of account, and 
was airily invited to sort the matter out with his assistant 
Theodor Lemercier. He in turn informed me, point blank, that 
the financial regulations did not provide for any such statement 
to be presented on the change of accountant and that, if my 
predecessor agreed to do so, it would only be "out of good will" 

Later, reading up on the fine detail of the financial regulation 
in my own office, I found that in fact they did. Back I 
returned to Maison's office with the relevant volume - only to 
be met with the Euro -equivalent of a Gallic shrug. 

Increasingly, over the next few weeks I developed a sense of 
not always being given the correct information, the necessary 



documents - and of being kept slightly out of the loop. I also 
got a feeling that more of my staff were sitting on the fence- 
Some of my senior subordinates had clearly known that, from 
the start, I was not Maison's choice for the job, and the more 
sympathetic mentioned battles fought by Maison with the 
predecessor who came before Lematin. 

Others still clearly worshipped their Director General. One 
even rhapsodized to me about the way in which Maison, at 
one meeting of the Council of Ministers, had banged his fist 
on the table to emphasize a point. 

Some might have interpreted such behavior as either bad 
manners or the sign of a person with a poor argument. But I 
had already become aware that banging the table and yelling 
was quite often part of the bag of tricks deployed to flex 
muscles in the upper echelons of the Commission. 

My own rule was never to raise my voice, to use arguments 
based on facts and rational thought and, above all, seek the 
advice of others. In my meetings with my staff, I couldn't 
help being aware that growing numbers were becoming 
more non-committal in their advice - and a touch less 
warm and supportive, 

In any forthcoming head-on collision between Maison and 
myself, it was natural that people should start manoeuvering 
to line up with the winner - and for growing numbers that 
appeared not to be me. 

In his 13 years in the job, Maison had certainly acquired 
awesome savvy and awesome clout - as had his long-serving 
Spanish counterpart, Pedro Laguna*, who was Director 
General for Agriculture, In most organizations, it would have 
been a basic, common-sense control to rotate people in such 
critical positions. But they served on — a Frenchman and a 
Spaniard who came from the two countries which enjoyed by 
far and away the most generous portions of subsidies from 
the 100-billion Euro budget. 



through badly needed reforms? Each week, she held a 
meeting with Maison and the Directors, where most of the 
matters discussed were "political." But as political affairs often 
have a financial aspect, I always tried to attend — even when 
not specifically invited. At first, I made little or no comments. 
Simply being there turned out to be highly revealing of what 

ctv~- L IJttjJLJt y J. L/ L^C'l Jlt»-IJl d-v V^v^Jti.Jl.iJtiJl^v!i , iv/-ll.v w .|. JLv- V v--!.* 

Each Commissioner had a half-a-dozen-strong cabinet 
headed by an all-powerful Chef de Cabinet - a civil servant of 
equivalent Grade 2 level to myself. In Schreyer's case this was 
a tall, grey-haired fellow-German Hans Zimmer* - and he 
appeared to have the traditional iron grip on information 
going before his Commissioner boss. 

To prepare myself for one meeting - where the outcome of 
the budget for 2001 was going to be discussed - I decided to 
pull out the final figures for the budget that was actually 
spent. This was one area where I felt I had expertise and could 

possibly contribute to the discussion. 

But as the meeting itself progressed I was stunned to realize 
that Schreyer's figures and mine simply didn't mesh. 
According to my research, I could see that at the end of 2001 
the under-expenditure was 15 billion euros - 10 billion euros 
more than the 5 billion figure the Commissioner appeared to 
be reading in her reports. This was an error of more than ten 
per cent of the total annual budget at that time. 

xnis sirrioiy oio.ii x icii vvito. ivjL3.ioori. & ocscfiulioii^ ixi ooiiic 
meetings, of a Commissioner who was something of a 
control freak and as a person who got rather too obsessed 
with the details of issues. In point of fact, she had already 
been in the job, and presumably followed the budget, for twro 
years, and yet didn't appear to have noticed that some 10 
billion euros had gone walkabout. 



my staff when I got back to my office. They explained that 
whereas in the past, financial reports would be distributed in 
hard copy, Schreyer's cabinet had instructed the Accounting 
Services to send reports directly to them via e-mail - so no 
one could be sure that the Commissioner had got to see the 
figures actually produced by our department, 

To me, it was fairly obvious that the figures and reports were 
pretty well cooked before they ever reached the 
Commissioner's desk. The matter of over or under- 
expenditure was clearly a matter of key importance in the 
negotiation of the final budget for the new year in the 
European Parliament and Council of Ministers, Why should 
the Member States be endlessly asked to cough up even more 
money? Yet it appeared that the Commissioner in charge of 
the department was not being given the true figures. 

On another occasion, one of my unit heads brought me a 
question asked by a Member of the European Parliament, 
who wanted to know how much money had been recovered 
from the overpayment of agricultural funds over the previous 
five years. Knowing that the Commission kept no central 
record of such payments - nor did it do any follow-up 
research - I could only truthfully answer that it was 

But nobody appeared unduly worried at this revelation - or 
what it said about the manifest lack of control of EU funds. 
All they were really worried about was getting this particular 
MEP off their backs so that they could move on. More of my 
staff's time was thus wasted as the query circulated through 
various sections until a barely honest answer had been honed 
into a state or almost pertect ooscurity. 

On this same issue, towards the end of February, the head of 
my Recoveries unit, Helmut Herr* , contacted me to let me 
know that Schreyer*s cabinet head Zimmer had asked him to 
explain a report that he had produced. Herr was concerned 



that his report covered only ten per cent of the budget - that 
part relating to direct payments made by the Commission to 
beneficiaries or suppliers - and that the Commissioner's 
office might want to use this methodology as a means of 
explaining a recovery process for the whole budget. 

Once again, I was surprised that a subordinate, and head of 
unit, had been invited to get involved in all this without ray 
being informed, and decided to go along with him. On my 
advice, Herr explained to the Commissioner the truth about the 
unreliability of the data we had produced and the fact that it 
covered only "direct payments" - some ten per cent of budget 

In fact, 1 saw this meeting with the Commissioner as the 
perfect opportunity for bringing home to her not just this but 
so many other glaring shortcomings in the system. I had not 
yet had the chance of speaking with her on her own. When 
my colleague had finished his explanations, I remained 
seated. "Commissioner, 1 wonder whether I could have a 
word with you alone/' 

As this was entirely against the "culture" of the place, Zimmer 
left the room with evident reluctance and ill grace. Clearly, 
Commissioners were very rarely left on their own - without 
the "guidance" of either their cabinets or all-powerful 
Directors General 

But I was determined to take advantage of this opportunity. 
"I am extremely worried about the computer system on 
which the funds are managed " She admitted that she too had 
received a lot of complaints - but that she was waiting for a 
report from the Court of Auditors on an audit done in 2001. 

a What do you suggest?" she asked. I told her of the possibility 
of expanding the use of a well-known German software 
package, with a customized version which had already been 
bought by the Commission but was not being used. "That 
would solve many of the biggest problems " 



Further, I mentioned a report from the Court of Auditors 
that had come in and that I had not yet had time to read. She 
asked for a copy. She was keen on using the German software 

- but wanted to see the auditors' report, presumably 
confirming the failure of the existing system, to make it more 
difficult for others to argue against her view. 

Back in my office, I saw the Court of Auditors' report that I 
had mentioned was in French - which Schreyer didn't speak. 
I rang her to tell her that - and she asked me to get a 
translation. The Court of Auditors informed me that 
translating the whole 80-page report would take a. long time 

- but they agreed to translate its main conclusions which 
were later sent to the Commissioner. 

I was tempted to believe that my meeting with Schreyer had 
been a real breakthrough - that at last the basic problems of 
her directorate would be tackled. But as more time went by, I 
could see the difficulties and weakness of her position. A 
political appointee, she clearly felt she had to fit in with 
political decisions and go with the flow of the College of 
Commissioners. Nobody had ever argued that the member 
states were sending their finest and brightest to be senior 
politicians in Brussels. Understandably, the smartest stayed at 
home - and tried to become Prime Minister. 

Most of these political appointees, who ended up as 
Commissioners in Brussels, were there for just one five-year 
term. Unless they were people of quite exceptional 
intelligence and determination, they were no match for the 
Directors General and cabinet heads who had often worked 
in the Commission for years and knew, like no other 
bureaucracy in the world, how to arrange agendas, sift 
documents and stuff diaries with time-wasting nonsense. 

For my own part, I was beginning to see that my own 
independence as Chief Accountant - in theory directly 
responsible to the College of Commissioners - could be 



something of a myth. Never again did Zimmer risk leaving 
me alone with Commissioner Schreyer. Invariably, Maison or 
someone else was conjured onto the scene. 

More clearly than before, I could see that the very description 
of my job as both Accounting Officer and Budget Execution 
Director was something of an anomaly as both posts covered 
pretty much the same responsibilities. But the nomination of 
Budget Execution Director craftily enforced my reporting to 
Budget Director General Maison. I now knew that I had a 
battle on my hands. 

Meanwhile, back in Varese, Lematin continued to drag his 
feet. He simply refused to take responsibility for signing the 
2001 accounts to be sent out to the Directors General for 
their annual declaration. I could now see why he had moved 
out of the Chief Accountant's job after less than one year on 
the job. I was also beginning to realize that, while Maison 
clearly did not want me for the job, he had possibly accepted 
my nomination in the hope that a newcomer could be 
bounced into signing the accounts - before knowing what 
was really going on. 

But that hadn't worked. The situation was now becoming 
tense. Complaints were coming in daily from the various 
Directorates about figures in the computer system not 
matching those they had put in. 

Finally, Maison announced to all the Directorates that the 
Budget Directorate General would "underpin" the accounts 
sent to them for their annual declarations. I wondered how 
the Director General could support accounts that the Chief 
Accountant refused to sign. But I argued no more - as I still 
hoped to make the most necessary changes to improve the 
situation in the shortest possible time. 

At the next Directors' meeting Maison asked me to resolve the 
issue of the reduction of my staff that he had promised for 
that year's budget. I pointed out the existing lack of trained 



personnel in the Accounting services. Ignoring my point, he 
retorted that that was always the complaint of my staff - 
which was particularly absurd when they hadn't even filled 
the vacant posts. 

At that same meeting, Maison mentioned the report on the 
financial systems that had just been produced by the Court of 
Auditors (the AMIS report: Audit of Management and 
Information Systems). He strongly dismissed its criticisms 
indicating that the language used was quite extraordinary - 
intemperate. Others joined in with a chorus of disapproval 
and disgust - apart from myself. I found I couldn't disagree 
with the auditors' conclusions - but kept quiet, not wanting 
to start yet another argument. Already, though, I could see the 
report causing many headaches in the weeks to come. 

By now I had been to countless meetings at which I had tried 
to explain the failings of the system - and to propose 
solutions. But most of these gatherings ended up with no 
decisions being taken and much hand-wringing about 
"budget limitations." Again and again, I tried to explain that 
my proposals would not necessarily involve massive 
investment - but mainly further and better use of the 
computer software that was already to hand. 

Increasingly, I felt myself to be in an Alice in Wonderland 
world - with what was now being discussed as 'reform' simply 
making the situation worse. In the future, the Directors 
General would pretty much control the funds and if any 
"irregularity" were found, the Commissioners would blame 
the Directors General who would in turn blame an 
inadequate accounting system - and so on, round and round 
in an almost perfect circle of irresponsibility! 

Already, both Commissioners and Directors General were 
happy to heap much of the blame for "irregularities" onto 
member states, where 75 per cent of the money is spent on 
agricultural subsidies and structural funds. They were equally 



happy to overlook the fact that, even if the money is passed 
on, it is still the responsibility of the Commission to insist on 
the documentation from its eventual recipients to show that 
the funds have been spent properly Indeed, the Treaties 
emphasize that it is the European Commission which is 
responsible for all the EU funds. 

I couldn't help wondering why we, the European taxpayers, 
should go on forever handing enormous sums to an 
organization - the European Commission - which refused 
(and still refuses) to take any responsibility for looking 
after them. 

Often I wondered whether much had changed at all since the 
collapse of the Jacques Santer Commission when the "Wise 
Men" had reported that it had been "particularly difficult to 
find anyone who has the slightest sense of responsibility." 




The Pressure to 
Sign Increases 

At the start of March I was informed of a meeting, scheduled 
for April 18, at which I would have to present a draft of my 
proposals for the accounting reform. This meeting would be 
with the President of the Court of Auditors - Juan Manuel 
Fabra Valles - and two other directors responsible for the 
annual report. 

But I pointed out, "To present a proper action plan, we have 
got to sort out not only the accounting framework but also 
the computer system we propose to use. In order to do that, 
Mon and those in charge of the computer system will have to 
present their proposals to me so that I can combine the two 
bits of information." 

At about that same time I received a call from Schreyer's office 
asking if I could have my proposals on the accounting reform 
ready for the end of May. At first sight this seemed a not 
unreasonable request, until I was informed that, once my draft 
was prepared, it would need 'inter- service' consultation within 
the Commission's other Directorates, and translation into other 
languages - a process that would take at least a month. 

In effect, if the finished report had been scheduled (before my 
arrival) for the end of March, they were giving me just two 



months, since taking up my employment, in which to prepare 
it. In view of all my other responsibilities, this presented me 
with an impossible timetable, if anything of value was going 
to be produced. 

Also during March, the Court of Auditors' AMIS report - on 
the Audit of Management and Information Systems - came 
back for discussion. Maison wanted all four of his Directors 
to respond to each point in the report. "From my own 
experience," I pointed out, "I can confirm that all the essential 
points raised by the Auditors are correct." Immediately, I was 
contradicted by Maison, who was backed up by the other 

Once again, I was on my own. I tried to explain that, "The 
only way of starting reform is to recognize the existence and 
size of a problem." As I spoke I was reminded of Jules Muis's 
comment to me of the " Commission living within a culture 
of self-denial." 

I also went on to point out that as my predecessor was the one 
who was in charge when the audit was done - (and the report 
had serious criticisms of him) - he should be the one to 
respond to its points. But I offered to indicate the areas on 
which I felt we should focus - and later sent an e-mail, 
outlining them, to Maison. 

Two days later, on March 6, when I was in Luxembourg, I was 
called by Maison about my reluctance to contradict the 
auditors and by his tone I realized that the criticisms 
contained within the AMIS report had far more importance 
for him than I had at first thought. 

The reason that I was in Luxembourg was in itself significant. 
A few days before that, on March 4, I had come back from 
lunch in Brussels to be informed by my secretary that, just 
five minutes earlier, Deputy DG Mogen had been in my office 
with Mr Juan Barco*, who had taken over Pierre Sachet's job 
as a director of the Court of Auditors in charge of the EU 



budget. He would be the one with whom I was likely to have 
most dealings in the future, 

I was surprised. Mogen had made no mention of Barco's visit 
when I had spoken with him a few days earlier - let alone 
invited me to join him in a meeting. 

When he got back to Luxembourg, Barco rang to express his 
regrets that we had not met as there were important issues he 
wanted to discuss with me. Embarrassed by all this, I offered 
to travel to Luxembourg and meet with him in the next day 
or so. It was difficult now to avoid the impression that 
deliberate efforts were being made to hamper my contacts 
with the Auditors. Though I apologized for some "crossing of 
wires" I could tell that Barco also found it hard to believe that 
such a misunderstanding had been accidental. He faxed me a 
letter that eloquently summed up the Auditors* concerns, and 
I was intrigued by the fact that they so clearly regarded me as 
the principal player in sorting out the mess. 

When I met him in Luxembourg, Barco continued his 
onslaught on the Budget Directorate, and said 1 needed to do 
something about the 2001 accounts. *Tm afraid its a bit late, 
but 1*11 do my best" I replied. 

Barco informed me that if the accounts did not show real 
progress over those of the previous year the Court might 
refuse clearance altogether. He said it was that bad. He 
acknowledged that I had a difficult job, and I stressed that his 
support as an auditor was crucial if 1 were to succeed in 
reforming the accounting. 

"My predecessor still hasn't handed over any statement of 
account since my arrival ~~~ and though 1 have asked for it, he 
has simply ignored my requests," 1 pointed out. "Better send 
him a warning letter," Barco suggested. I did so that same day. 

On my return from Luxembourg, I asked for a meeting with 
Maison. First of all, I wanted to sort out the issues in the 


Auditors' AMIS report that had sparked his electric telephone 
call. "As a professional accountant, I simply can t deny the 
points that the Court of Auditors are making " I also wanted 
to pass on the warning that the court might refuse clearance 

of the 200 1 accounts altogether. 

Although I was not technically responsible for the 2001 
accounts, I repeated my offer to do what I could to help 
improve them. The most urgent need was for a 
'reconciliation* of the accounts - combining data from 
different sources - which had never been done before. 
Further, I tried to impress on him the desperate lack of 
people in my team with a reasonable knowledge 
of accounting. 

To keep costs down, I offered to take on consultants on a 
temporary basis. Maison was non-committal. Later that same 
day, I met with Luc Montague*, the Directorate's head of 
resources who immediately put a limit on my request for staff 
- both for the urgent needs of the 2001 accounts and the 
long-term demands of the accounting reforms. And, indeed, 
I heard nothing more on the subject. 

Still worried about the quality of the 2001 accounts, and the fact 
that Schreyer would be adopting them on behalf of the whole 
Commission by the end of April, I asked for a meeting with her 

which her office confirmed for a week later: on March 18. Over 
the weekend, I prepared a short note listing the points I wanted 
to discuss which I sent to her before the meeting. 

Around that time, I was contacted by one of Maison's staff 
asking me to request the Auditors to delete paragraph 102 of 
their AMIS report. But the paragraph was of fundamental 
importance as it basically stated that, given the quality of the 
accounting systems, it was impossible for the Accounting 
Officer to present reliable accounts. 

Clearly, Maison was infuriated by the implication that the 
Court of Auditors would never be able to give a clean bill of 



health to the accounts - unless the computer system was 
changed. It seemed hardly fair to make this request of me 
knowing that fact to be true and knowing my responsibility 
for the current year accounts. I could only reply that, "As an 
accounting professional I cannot properly make that request. 
Only the Director General, using his political power, can 
make such a request." 

I was finding it difficult to understand why Maison and his 
team were still making such efforts to resist such obvious 
reforms. Evidence of the failure of the current system was 
being revealed almost daily 

Crucially, there was an investigation into Eurostat - a 
Luxembourg-based agency which, among other things, 
publishes statistics used for determining the contributions of 
member states and the subsidies to be paid out. Some of the 
work is done by outside companies, Eurostat also sells 
statistics to private companies. In all this operation, there had 
long been suspicions of fraudulent trading. 

Indeed, an investigation that had been going on since 1997 
seemed to illustrate perfectly the points I had been trying to 
make about the Commission's lack of proper controls. It was 
alleged that during the 1990s, Eurostat officials had used a 
double accounting system to transfer large amounts of 
money to secret bank accounts not monitored by auditors 
and that the value of some contracts was being grossly 
inflated. At the very least, it was suspected that between four 
and six million euros had been "siphoned off" in this way. 

It was only as the result of some very determined prodding by 
some brave Commission officials and aggrieved contractors 
that OLAF - the European Anti-Fraud Office - and the 
Internal Audit Directorate were eventually galvanized into 
action. But their difficulty in tracing the sums of money, and 
the principals and possible beneficiaries involved, was 
precisely because of the lack of an electronic audit trail that I 



had been warning about since my arrival in office. I had some 
contact with OLAF in mid-March, 2002, on a different issue 
- and received little assurance as to the speed and vigour with 
which their investigations were likely to proceed. 

That meeting - with Maison, the head of OLAF and the head 
of the Legal service - was ostensibly to work out the varying 
responsibilities of the different services on the recovery of 
unaccounted funds. But as so often - with the EU's morass of 
competing and contradictory laws - the meeting was a 
complete mess, with each of the principals trying to load 
responsibility onto somebody else. 

My only contribution was to point out that, "Whatever is 
decided, under the EU treaties the Chief Accountant remains 
solely responsible for all assets and monies of the EU, and I 
cannot shift this responsibility onto whomsoever else I find 
suitable. That is the law. " 

In the end, nothing was decided. The head of the Legal 
service issued one minute of the meeting, Maison another. 
Neither, as far as I know, was ever made official - and the 
whole exercise was fairly typical of daily life in the 

Next up, that same day, was a Budget Directorate meeting on 
"Internal Control Standards," at which I was shocked to hear 
that the Treasury function was not considered an area of risk. As 
this is the department responsible for the safe collection and 
disbursement of funds, I had to point out, "In my view, the 
Treasury function is an area of fundamental risk throughout 
the entire European Union and requires urgent attention." 

But Maison insisted that the significance of the EU Treasury 
function was minor. I could not help comparing the EU to a 
bank that takes in and pays out money - adding no other 
value beyond the proper control of those funds. Despite the 
fact that this was the essential activity of the Commission, it 
had been an area of almost total failure. 


I took the opportunity to point out that during the ten weeks 
i had been in the job I had been meeting regularly with the 
head of my Treasury unit, Charles Cash, to discuss the 
controls on payments and bank accounts, and for details on 
specific transactions I was being asked to authorize. 

I did not spell out that the delay in answering queries - and his 
failure to produce a list of signatories authorized to approve 
payments - could in no way be considered reasonable. 

On the day I was to meet with Schreyer - March 18 - another 
important meeting, with the Auditors to discuss their AMIS 
report, had been scheduled for one hour earlier. While 
Maison had announced the AMIS meeting that morning, he 
had made no reference to any meeting with Schreyer. Neither 
did I, still believing that my discussion would be with her 
alone. Wrong! 

As the time for me to see Schreyer came close, I said I had to 
leave the AMIS meeting - and so did Maison. And I next saw 
him storming up the stairs ahead of me towards the 
Commissioner's office. When I got there, I found him already 
installed in Schreyer's office with cabinet head Hans Zimmer. 

While this simply confirmed for me the extent to which 
Commissioners could be manipulated and cocooned by the 
Commission bureaucracy, I was nevertheless determined to 
reveal the inadequacy of the 2001 accounts which Schreyer 
was intending to adopt at the end of April. 

But no sooner had I opened my mouth than the two men 
interrupted to argue that all the points I was making related 
to the accounting reform that I had to put in place. Patiently, 
I countered that there were two separate issues. "First, there is 
the problem of improving the 2001 accounts in the month 
and a half that is left and being aware of their shortcomings. 
Secondly, there are the deficiencies of the current accounting 
system and judging the extent to which the suggested 
proposals are likely to change them." 



Once again, I spoke of the need for a fully integrated system 
that would allow the processing of transactions to feed the 
necessary ledgers so as to allow a permanent and continuous 
reconciliation of the budget and of outgoing payments. There 
was little interest in what I was saying. Eventually, Schreyer 
asked me for a written description of the problem, 
consequences and proposals for action, and, with that the 
meeting ended. 

For me, the real significance of the meeting was that I was 
beginning to realize that the Commissioner who had hired 
me against enormous opposition - and probably with the 
intention of bringing about real change - was about to throw 
in the towel. Unwilling to rock the boat, she was now allowing 
herself to be manipulated. I couldn't help but contrast the 
whole tone of this meeting with the one I had had a month 
earlier when I had spoken with her on her own. 

After that meeting of March 18 I noticed a couple of my 
senior subordinates beginning to adopt positions likely to 
block my suggestions. Whereas earlier they had given the 
impression of being open to new ideas, most discussions now 
concluded with their suggesting that we stick to proposals 
that had been drafted a year earlier - and with no variations. 

And yet, they were able to give me no good reason as to why 
they had already waited a year to implement reforms that 
they believed to be so sound. By now it was pretty obvious 
that they were falling in with Maison's strategy of imposing 
his own reforms - under the signature of the new Chief 

To me, however, Maison's proposed changes to what was 
referred to as the new Financial Regulation - the relevant EU 
law - were deeply flawed. While earlier, many of my 
colleagues had privately admitted that they had long known 
that the system lacked coherence, security and 
comprehensiveness, I could see that what was now being 
discussed as "reform'* would only make the situation worse. 



For in giving more power to the Directors General to approve 
projects and order payments, I realized that there would be a 
further weakening of the existing inadequate checks on 
invoices and contracts and efforts to verify the amount, 
purpose and beneficiary of a payment. For the Directors 
General this would bring more power - but the responsibility 
for error would remain mine. 

Meanwhile, on March 20, the Court of Auditors had alerted 
me to serious anomalies they had found in the Commission's 
'SINCOM' computer system which, in their words, would ".. 
seriously impact on the accounts for 2001." Again, I was 
intrigued that they had brought the problem directly to me - 
clearly seeing me as having overall responsibility for the 
computer systems on which financial transactions were 
processed: the very area where Maison had been trying to 
strip me of authority. 

What particularly bothered the Court was the fact that 
unauthorized people could get onto that computer system, 
add, delete or change transactions and log off - leaving no 
electronic trail. 

r copied their note to Maison to let him know what was going 
on ~ and also forwarded the letter to Schreyer - in the hope 
that she might still promote the use of the German software 
package that we had discussed in our previous, private 
meeting. Contrary to what its opponents claimed, it would 
have required no extra investment, as it had been purchased 
five years earlier, and had already been customized for the EU. 
I had checked that we already had all the licenses needed for 
its full operation. 

Given the Auditors' concerns, and with the continuing lack of 
response to so many of my questions to the Treasury unit, 
and, crucially, their failure to produce a list of those with 
signing authority, I finally felt I had no alternative but to 
request an independent audit of the whole Treasury function. 



One had not been done for ten years - and the unit clearly 
played a crucial role with its gathering and handing out 
of funds. 

I discussed the issue with Maison and we agreed (or so I 
thought) that I would request such an audit from the Internal 
Audit Directorate as soon as possible. No sooner had that 
been done than I heard from Maison s office that they would 
do the audit. 

I stressed to Maison that, "The audit has to be done by a 
Directorate completely separate from that to which our 
Treasury unit is attached. The whole point of the audit is that 
it should be seen to be independent." 

To no avail. Maison's office duly dispatched a letter to Internal 
Audit informing them that his team would do the audit. The 
task, they claimed, was already in their programme of work 
for 2002. (Later, I discovered that it had been added only 
when 1 requested the audit.) 

Gradually, I could see that my request for a Treasury audit 

was causing massive unease. I saw it as something that any of 
the big private international accounting firms could 
accomplish in a couple of weeks. But I also knew, as they 
knew, that such an audit might raise questions about the 
Commission as the guardian of EU funds and about the 
competence and actions of specific civil servants who had 
held responsibility for 15 or 20 years. 

My suspicions were simply strengthened when conversations 
with Zimmer and other senior officials revealed a streak of 
near-paranoia about my audit request. "Who is it that is 
putting you up to this, Marta? What outside group are you 
working for? Who sent you here?" 

Their suspicions were clearly absurd. If I had been connected 
with any outside political group this would surely have been 
revealed in the pre -recruitment checks that I knew had been 



done on me. They had spoken to at least three people at 
the OECD. 

All in all, it was being made crystal clear that Director General 
Maison had absolutely no long-term intention of respecting 
my independence, or judgement, as Chief Accountant, With 
the time that he and Treasury unit head, Charles Cash, had 
spent in their jobs - more than 12 years each - and their 
adamant refusal to supply me with crucial information, or 

come to no other conclusion. 

Tension in the office was becoming palpable. I decided to take 
two days off to finalise my installation in Brussels. As I had 
agreed to transfer to the city in just two weeks, 1 had still not 
had time to really sort out my personal life. I had had to go 
flat-hunting in my lunch time as the working days had been 
going on for so long. 1 had had to research the possibility of 
my daughter Carolina going to school in Brussels, and make 

When I got back to the office, on March 25,1 discovered that 
my participation in the visit to die Court of Auditors, in 
Luxembourg, scheduled for April 18, had evidently been 
cancelled - given the disappearance of my name from the 
official documentation. 

Maison had instructed my subordinates to finalise a 
document that he could explain to the Auditors himself. This, 
despite the fact that the Deputy DG Mogen had already 
informed me that I would be needed on the trip to discuss the 
accounting reforms. 

1 e-mailed Maison expressing surprise at the cancellation, and 
to make sure that I had got that right. Instantly, he was on the 
phone telling me that he was not going to allow me to dictate 
whom he should or should not take to a meeting. I pointed 
out that it was obvious and natural that the Chief Accountant 
should be the one to present accounting reforms. I also 



reminded him that when I had discussed the draft June 2001 
reforms with the Court of Auditors, they had taken the line 
that as they had not been presented to them officially by the 
then Accounting Officer (Lematin) they had seen no reason 
for an official reaction. "Above all, the Auditors have indicated 
that they are now far more interested in seeing action - rather 
than draft projects." 

Maison simply upped the pressure in making life difficult. He 
instructed me to take on all the extra responsibilities of 
accounting being transferred from ISPRA, in Italy, as well as 
to find jobs for those losing theirs in Varese - but without any 
extra personnel. 

By now, I realized that much of the power of the Budget 
Director General - and his ability to frustrate reforms - 
derived from his control over manpower. Before I had joined, 
Maison had proposed substantial staff cuts for the 
Accounting services in his budget for the year - but none for 
his own area of responsibility. 

As time went, on, I became aware of more of my subordinates 
positioning themselves for any imminent battle for power. 
The most explicit example of this came when, at the 
beginning of April, Mara Villos, with whom I had been 
working most closely on the reform proposals, suddenly 
indicated that she would not be able to sign the final 
document. It differed, she claimed, from the original version 
that we had been proposing. 

None of this had been mentioned in the preceding weeks, as 
we had been grinding our way through succeeding versions. 
In reality, there had not been any major changes. When I 
invited her to put her complaint, and what she saw as the 
discrepancies, in writing, she backed down. There had been a 
"misunderstanding," she explained. 

That same afternoon we presented the proposals to Maison, 
who gave no immediate reaction. But when I informed him 



that I would be sending a more extensive document about the 
accounting reforms to Schreyer, as she had requested in our 
meeting with her of March 18, he objected. 

He argued that, for that particular document, any computer 
system changes should also be included, and that - in clear 
contradiction of Treaty rules - it was his staff who had to be 
responsible for such changes. He told me that Mon was also 
working on proposals at that moment. But they never 

Indeed, Mon himself didn't even bother to turn up when the 
issue was again discussed at the next weeldy Directors' 
meeting. All that emerged was continuing opposition to my 
suggestion to expand the use of the German software which 
the EU had already bought. Others claimed that it was the 
Directors General who did not want to use the German 
software as they found it "too complex" 

I pointed out, again, that, "It is the Directors General who are 
now regularly complaining about the existing system, as the 
figures they put in do not correspond with the ones they get 
out. Perfectly correctly, they are pointing out that the control 
of funds is impossible." It seemed to be an argument that 
could go on forever - even if it was in reality unarguable. 

More to the point, I had by now established that Maisons 
assertion that his staff should control the computer system 
was flatly wrong. The ElTs Financial Regulation and Treaties 
gave the Chief Accountant absolute power to approve the 
financial systems " . on which the transactions that affect the 
EU budget .." were processed. This meant that control over 
the entire system, including the ones used in the different 
Directorates, was in my hands. 

Yet Maison's regard for the rules remained wholly elastic. I had 
often been appalled when temporary consultants, fellow 
enarques and proteges of Maison, were present when 
confidential matters were discussed. On one occasion, when a 



particularly delicate issue was to be broached, I had intimated 
to Maison that the temporary consultant should leave. 

Maison exploded saying that never in his career had he faced 
a similar situation and who did I think I was to put such 
request to him. But I stood firm. I told Maison, "This is an 
issue that I believe that we should discuss only with 
Directors," Eventually, the temporary official and Maison's 
assistant left the room. 

As we were now nearing mid- April - even though the reform 
project was not finalized - 1 wrote to all the Directors General 
announcing that I would be conducting an inventory of the 
financial transactions in each Directorate to determine the 
needs of the new accounting system. 

The very next day, Maison called an urgent meeting to discuss 
a letter from Martin Berry*, the Director General for 
Enlargement of the EU. In it he announced that he was 
considering putting reservations, in his annual declaration 
"on those matters which are the responsibility of the Budget 
Director General and therefore outside my control" 

Translated into simple language, this said that he was refusing 
to take responsibility for figures coming from an accounting 
system that he did not think was reliable. 

Panic. Maison had clearly been anxious about just such a 
reaction - but had hoped to clear it by saying that the Chief 
Accountant would sign the accounts sent to the Directorates. 
Given my refusal to do so, he had a problem. 

Maison took some time to react and finally informed Berry 
that he would be "expressing reservations on the accounting 
system and controls . ." in his own declaration. 

This gave me the opportunity of repeating my own proposals 
for urgent reforms - and remind Maison that I was still 
waiting for Mon's suggestions on the computer systems to 
send with my document to the Commissioner. 


Later, I went to see Berry myself. Given the reservations he 
had so clearly expressed about the workings of the new 
Financial Regulation, I. saw him as someone who possibly 
understood the weaknesses of the whole system and would be 
prepared to support me in making the necessary changes - 
and therefore was a possible future ally. Wrong. 

In my meeting with him* it soon became clear that all he was 
really interested in was in making sure that no responsibility 
stuck to him for his participation in what was obviously an 
unreliable system - and not to sign the annual declaration 
required of him with Maison s proposed changes, 

A workshop on risk assessment brought back the issue of the 
Treasury audit, where Maison firmly spelt out that it would 
be done by his staff and by no one outside his department. He 
again stressed that he felt that the Treasury function at the EU 
was minimal - and therefore not an area of risk. While all 
others agreed with him, I insisted, "The Treasury function is 
absolutely crucial in an organization such as the 

That same day I received a copy of a letter sent by Maison to 
Jules Muis> Director General of Internal Audit, in which he 
firmly rebuffed Muis's concerns about the Commissions 
Treasury accounting. The document was about the most 
cynical and arrogant I was to read during my time at the 
Commission. In plain language, Maison was basically saying 
that he didn't really care about controls of the accounting 
system, He cared only about the political consequences when 
his directorate was criticized by the European Parliament - at 
which point he would certainly fight his corner. 

This was veteran Maison informing relative newcomer Muis 
that the whole thing was really just a game of power - in 
Maisons words an "inter- institutional game" between 
Parliament and Commission. Given the supine way in which 
the Parliament had, year after year - and despite the 



reservations of the Court of Auditors - continued to approve 
the accounts, it was possible to see how Maison could have 
dared to commit such cynicism to paper. But where the EU 
taxpayer fitted into any of this was of course omitted. 

After the risk assessment workshop, a meeting was called by 
Maison to discuss preparations for the April 18 visit to the 
Court of Auditors. As I arrived in his office, I found thai he 
had also invited Mara Villos, the person with whom I had 
been working most closely on the reform project. 

With almost studied rudeness, Maison ignored my presence 
throughout the entire meeting and referred all his questions 
to Villos. And still he failed to make it clear whether I would 
be needed on the trip to Luxembourg to make the 
presentation. Elis behavior, in fact, was becoming so uncouth 
that I wondered whether he was trying to provoke me into 
some kind of retaliatory insult or action. His manners 
seemed to be reaching for some new low in human 

But I forced myself to remain calm and stay to the end of the 
meeting. If nothing else, it served to confirm that he was now 
using my staff to block my proposals. 

In the light of recent events - and Maison s apparent refusal 
to take on board any of my warnings or suggestions about the 
accounting system - I decided to write directly to 
Commissioner Schreyer. First, I wanted to reiterate my 
suggestion of an independent audit of my Treasury unit, and 
secondly, to communicate my reform proposals on the 
financial software and the computer system. 

With just days to go, there was still no official communication 
on w ho would be travelling to Luxembourg, So when auditor 
Barco, who had replaced Sachet, rang to agree a list of matters 
to be discussed at the meeting, I had to tell him, "I am still not 

sure whether I am going to be allowed to go - or even what 
the reasons are behind all this." 



Barco appeared extremely concerned and said that he would 
alert others at the Court. But then - the day before departure 
— I received a note on the transport arrangements from which 
I assumed that I would be going. I wondered just how much 
more petty and childish this could all get 

Those making the two-hour mini-coach trip to Luxembourg 
eventually included, as well as myself, Maison, his deputy 
Mogen, and two other members of staff in charge of systems 
and inter- institutional relations. The visit started with a short 
meeting with the President of the Court of Auditors, Juan 
Manuel Fabra Valles - a man who was still recovering from 
serious illness - two other auditors, Victor Manuel da Silva 
Caldeira and Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, and with Maison, his 
deputy and myself. 

Bluntly Maison was asked if there was going to be any 
improvement in the 2001 accounts. He said he didn't know, 
"But I am sure they are not going to be worse than the year 
before" He added that as the Court of Auditors had always 
declared the accounts "reliable," if they were not better or 
worse, he was sure that the Court would not be able to change 
that opinion, 

Clearly riled, Miss Geoghegan-Quinn pointed out that the 
court was not going to be inhibited from giving a very 
negative opinion, or even withhold an opinion, by that kind 
of argument. Also angered, Caldeira said he felt Maisoifs 
response - in the Elfs bizarre vocabulary of near-English - 
amounted to "a form of harassment.** 

The President, Valles, now waded in in support of his two 
colleagues, stating that he was giving them full power to 
heavily qualify the accounts and even, if they believed it was 
necessary, to advise the European Parliament not to discharge 
them. Maison appeared surprisingly unruffled. 

Following this meeting, there was a larger one where Maison 
was again heavily criticized for the lack of action in 



improving the accounts. He attempted to argue that this was 
the first time they had been able to get a qualified accountant 
as Chief Accountant. "It has been incredibly difficult to get 
people with the right background and qualifications for a lot 
of these vacant posts in accounting. Nobody applies" 

At this point he was stopped by one of the auditors on the 
Court's staff, who exclaimed, "I cannot believe what I am 
hearing, I am a qualified accountant, with many years' 
experience of working in European institutions. 1 applied 
when Miss Andreasen was selected, and I was not even called 
for an initial interview" 

In short, members of the Court clearly supported - or so I 
thought - what I was doing and suggested that Maison took 
account of the changes I was trying to bring about. 

But back in Brussels nothing changed. 

In my note to the Commissioner on the need for an 
independent Treasury audit, I had warned her that I was so 
concerned about the current state of affairs, and what it 
represented for the exercise of my signatory powers that if the 
situation didn't change I would feel obliged, as a professional 
accountant, to withhold my signature from certain 
documents such as payment notes, the authorization of bank 
accounts etc. 

I got no response from Schreyer. But Maison called me into 
his office and demanded that I changed the terms of the note 
sent to her. He still refused to accept my request for an 
independent Treasury audit. He was highly critical of my 
proposal for expanding the use of the German computer 
software arguing that this was not my responsibility. I 
reminded him that it was. 

I pointed out that while I was being pressured to produce my 
report on the accounting reforms, I had held back waiting for 
proposals from his computer systems team which seemed to 



be suffering quite inexplicable delays. "It makes absolutely no 
sense presenting accounting reforms which don't include 
changes to the computer system." 

Maison warned me that he would never accept my proposals 
on the computer system. But then he qualified that it was of 
course the Directors General who were opposed to the 
German software, so I would get no support on that. This, 
however, sounded unlikely as they were the ones who claimed 
they couldn't manage their budgets on the existing system. 
We had been over this ground so often before. 

Next, it was the turn of cabinet head Zimmer to ring and try 
to persuade me to rewrite my letter to the Commissioner - 
accepting full responsibility for the accounts, without 
reservations. He argued that I did not understand the real 
meaning of the financial regulations. 

"I have read them and understand them perfectly well" I 
replied. I then tried to explain that the whole point of having 
a Chief Accountant was to have an independent and qualified 
voice to judge the probity of the accounts. "This is the duty I 

owe to the College of Commissioners, under the Treaties of 

But Zimmer was either not listening or not understanding. 
He then suggested that if I did not agree with his 
interpretation of the rules then I should write to the 
Commissioner, relinquishing my responsibility. I pointed out 
that this was not what I was saying. Though unspoken, his 
attitude was clear: "Do what you are told or you are out." 

I now realized that the time had come for me to face up to the 
fullest responsibilities of my job. The issue of possible 
computer changes had already been going on - round and 
round - for far too long. Maison was blocking my attempts to 
change a clearly vulnerable system. The Commissioner 
refused to respond to my warnings. 



In the light of Maison's comment on the Directorates' 
reluctance to use the German software, I wrote to all the 
Directors General requesting their support for its 
implementation to help resolve the clear shortcomings of the 
current system. I pointed out that I had asked the Budget 
Commissioner for her authorization to implement these 

At 8pm on the night of April 22 - yes, 1 often worked that late 
- Schreyer summoned me to her office. She was furious, 
distraught, almost out of control about the letter and she 
accused me of trying to get her kicked out of her job or 
forcing her to resign. I could not believe what I was hearing. 

Calmly, I explained about all the discussions within her 
Directorate, with the Court of Auditors and with herself 
about the computer systems - and Maison's dogged 
resistance not just to any significant change, but to any open, 
meaningful discussion of reform. 

"The system I am proposing has already been designed and 
purchased by the Commission. We already have all the 
licences we need for its wider use." She had told me of her 
interest in developing it further. We had actually discussed it 
during my interviewing process. So what was the real issue 

The real issue, presumably, was that Maison - finally exposed 
in a long-running saga of lies and obfuscation - had gone to 
Schreyer in a fury, and she now felt threatened because it was 
becoming obvious that although she had known about it for 
so long, she had done nothing to correct a clearly inadequate 
accounting system. 

Schreyer threatened me with exposure of my suspension 
from the OECD. I told her that 1 had nothing to be ashamed 
of, quite the reverse, and that she was aware of this when she 
hired me. 



At one point In the meeting, she actually broke down in tears 
as she reflected on the wretchedness of her position. I 
comforted her as best I could. "Things can t be that bad. If we 
can bring about change, you will be praised rather than 
censored. We should look on this as a great opportunity" 

In fact, I was aghast, dumb-founded, appalled at her reaction 
to all this. I could almost have felt some sympathy for her - a 
clearly weak commissioner in the grip of an all-powerful, 
bullying bureaucracy - but I couldn't forget that the 
taxpayers of Europe deserved something so much better than 
what they were getting. This woman was earning some 
200,000 euros a year, plus generous extras. Surely it was her 
job to stand up to pressure? After 20 minutes I slipped away. 

The next morning, April 23, 1 was again called to Schreyer's 
office, where I found her accompanied by her cabinet head 
Zimmer and her spokesman. They began another onslaught 
on the letter sent to the Directors General asking me if I 
did not realize the impact on public opinion if such a letter 
were leaked. 

I couldn't see that the public would be particularly interested 
in the technical details of a software programme. "Every year 
for the last six years, the Court of Auditors has been making 
public far more damaging revelations about the state of the 
EU's accounts. For anyone interested, there is nothing new 
here." Darkly, Schreyer's spokesman mentioned a certain 
German magazine journalist who was "always sniffing round 

A couple of years later I read in a newspaper that this same 
spokesman had made allegations against a German 
magazine journalist, Mr. Tillack (remember that name), 
which prompted OLAF to ask the Belgian police to raid the 
latter's office and take all his documents. Nothing was ever 
proved against Tillack and the European Court of Human 
Rights has recently granted him damages. 



That same day, Commission Secretary General John Castle, 
who had never bothered to see me since my starting the job, 
also rang. But I was out of the office. It appeared that he had 
been very eager to see me before going into his weekly 
meeting with all the Directors General - where he expected 
reactions to my letter. I rang him back, now after his meeting, 
to find him still in a state of some agitation and we arranged 
to meet a week later on April 30. 

Before then, I was called by cabinet head Zimmer to a 
meeting to discuss my responsibilities as Chief Accountant. I 
raised the issue of my independence as by this time the 
interventions of Maison had become flagrant and the 
Commissioner had not reacted to my notes. "As Chief 
Accountant I am responsible for the EU Treasury and 
accounts so it is clearly unacceptable for the Director General 
to decide the reform of the accounting system - and the staff 
needed for it." 

At that point, Zimmer asked me to write a letter, transferring 
my responsibilities as Chief Accountant to the Director 
General. I refused - though at Zimmer's insistent demands I 
agreed to send him a draft expressing my reluctance to sign 
such a document. 

Surprisingly, as soon as Zimmer received it his manner 
changed. On the phone, he said he entirely understood my 
concerns, that he would discuss the issues with the 
Commissioner and destroy my draft note. (Later, I found out 
that he had done no such thing.) 

As the date drew near for the College of Commissioners to 
"adopt" the 2001 accounts, before sending them to the Court 
of Auditors, the Commissioner scheduled a meeting. When I 
arrived I saw that Maison had also invited my subordinate 
Villos - again without my being informed. But the one 
person absent who should have been there - to sign the 
accounts - was my predecessor Lematin. 



The situation was absurd. Maison was now not only ignoring 
my responsibilities, my authority and independence - but he 
was also openly proclaiming that attitude to the 
Commissioner. 1 realized that I had been brought to the 
crossroads. Quickly I had to decide what to do. Did I get up 
and leave? Did I stand up and tell the Commissioner that, as 
Chief Accountant, 1 was responsible for the accounts, and 
that, as Maison as Budget Director General was politically 
responsible for negotiating the annual budget with 
Parliament, his interventions could only be seen as 
representing a conflict of interest? 

Or did I stay and say what I thought about the accounts? I 
stayed. Maison intimated that the accounts were now greatly 
improved - and Villos supported him. Wearily, 1 repeated the 
concerns that I had expressed in my earlier meetings with 
Schreyer. I explained that the last-minute reconciliation 
exercise had dealt with only the most glaring errors, and I 
indicated those areas where the accounts were still obviously 

As ever, there was little reaction. Maison told Schreyer that he 
would discuss his annual declaration with her privately. 
When the meeting - lasting barely 20 minutes - ended, 
Schreyer asked me to stay behind. 

Immediately, both she and Maison demanded that I wrote a 
letter accepting full responsibility for the accounting and 
Treasury transactions, without any of the reservations I had 
spelled out in my previous correspondence with her. 

Once again, I explained the problems and consequences of 
my doing that. The response from both was that I did not 
understand the financial regulations. I tried to explain - but 
they were not listening. Schreyer then threatened me by 
saying that she would ask the Director General to remove me 
from my job if I did not write the letter. 

Later, Maison called me to his office to tell me that what 



Schreyer wanted was a letter simply saying that I was sorry for 
having written to the Directors General to seek their support 
in implementing the German software system. I told him that 
I had not understood this. 

But at that point, I felt that I had been caught in a trap, Either 
1 signed some document they wanted - or 1 would have to go. 
I felt 1 had been treated appallingly - totally betrayed. I 
simply couldn't understand Schreyer's attitude. She knew 
what was going on and had hired me to sort it out. But why 
was she allowing Maison, who was responsible for the mess 
for the past 13 years, to block my proposals? 

The only answer could be that she had become afraid for her 
own political future if she rocked the boat. She knew what 
Maison was like long before I did. She must have known that 
he could be quite unscrupulous when defending his own 
power base. She must have known that he would block any 
reforms and that, for me to succeed in such circumstances, I 
would need her support. 

This whole long drawn-out nonsense about the computer 
systems could only have come about because Maison simply 
did not want an accounting system that was efficient and 
transparent - where people could actually see what was 
going on. 

From a professional point of view, I knew that it would go 
against all of my principles to sign the sort of declaration 
that I suspected they wanted. If I did, I would then have to 
sign anything else they put in front of me. I would never be 
able to express any criticism or reservations on anything 
ever again. 

These people knew that things were wrong - and wanted me 
to accept the responsibility for them. I felt like I was dealing 
with the Mafia. One crime - one hit - one indiscretion made 
by me on their behalf, and I would be theirs for life. 



The only person I could think of consulting was Jules Muis - 
the Internal Audit Director General. But I found even him 
less chipper than usual. He was clearly concerned on my 
behalf - but, blocked in his own attempts at reform, he was 
struggling with serious issues that, I was to find out later, he 
couldn't yet talk about 

Focussing on my problems, Muis called in his deputy and 
together they helped me work out a form of words, and the 
tone I should adopt, in expressing the extent, and limitations, 
of my job for a letter I later sent to Schreyer. 

In his turn, Maison wrote to all the Directors General asking 
them to consider the letter that I had written, seeking their 
support, void. My options were closing. 

Soon after that I had an experience that very much increased 
my worries. Living in a flat just half a mile from the Breydel 
2 building, I often walked through a well-known park - the 
< Cinquantenaire > - in the 'European* sector of the city. 

One evening, as it was getting dark, I suddenly realized that I 
was being followed. I accidentally glanced back to see a man 
walking closely behind me. There was another one in front 
looking back at me. Quickly I sat down on the nearest bench. 
The two men also stopped their walk, and waited. 

I was scared and called my husband in Spain. He told me to 
calm down. "They are only trying to intimidate you. But you 
should get out of the park straight away." This I did 
immediately - and never went through that park again. But 
from that date onwards, I was often followed when I left 
the office. 

I felt worried because I really didn't know what these people 
were up to. Were they just trying to frighten me? I couldn't 
understand their motives - but suspected there had to be a lot 
more at stake for an institution to organize such 
intimidation. I had read of how when the British official 



Bernard Connolly was having his problems with the 
Commission, five years earlier, his house in Brussels had often 
been staked out by watchers at night when he was away. He 
assumed that this was an attempt to terrify his wife. 

The Dutch *whistleblower > Paul van Buitenen had also 
written of people lurking round outside his home - 
presumably to unnerve him and his family. How far were 
these people prepared to go? How dirty could this game get? 

This form of intimidation was not only nasty but clever. How 
easy it must be to dismiss allegations ".. of being followed .." 
as the <c .. ravings of a hysterical woman" 

In fact, in this case it was easy enough to work out who was 
orchestrating this nastiness. On more than one occasion, 1 
would get my husband, in Barcelona, to ring - and then, in 
Spanish, and in a voice slightly louder than usual, I would 
pretend to arrange to meet him at a nearby cafe in, say, 15 
minutes' time. 

Moments later I would notice that my secretary, also Spanish, 
would slip away from her desk, and occasionally I would 
follow to see her scampering up the stairs on some errand. 
Sure enough, 15 minutes later, when I left the building there 
would be someone loitering in the ground-floor lobby - 
ready to follow me to my spurious meeting. 

But what were they trying to do? Find out if I were talking to 
the press - or simply trying to make me feel uneasy? They 
were already doing that on my computer. When I logged on, 
I could see that some files had been read at a time when I 
could not have been in the office. Sometimes, I clicked onto a 
file to find that it had already been opened - and was actually 
in use. 

There were also strange new sounds on the phone in my 
Brussels flat. To test my suspicions, I went to a shop 
specializing in bugging- detection equipment to rent some 



simple device. "If your phone is being bugged, this green light 
will come on ," the sales assistant explained. "Unfortunately, it 
won't be able to tell you who is doing the bugging" 

Back in my flat, 1 made several calls - and after several 
seconds delay the green light flashed on, I was being bugged. 
But could the equipment be faulty? Down in the flat of the 
building's obliging concierge, I made several more calls. No 
green light. 

Meanwhile, back in the office, Maison continued to organize 
meetings to which he invited my subordinates - but not 
myself. Since my staff kept me informed, I often turned up as 
well. It was while I was at one of these meetings that I got a. 

summons from cabinet head Zimmer. 

He wanted me to change the latest letter that I had sent to 
Schreyer after consulting with Muis. He threatened me with 
dismissal — but I left the office without signing the letter that 
he had demanded. I couldn't believe that they would think 
that I would accept full responsibility for a system that 
everybody knew was so widely open to abuse. 

Indeed, I couldn't understand how they could so misjudge 

my personality as to believe that, by applying all this pressure, 
they could get what they wanted. How did they imagine that 
I would then be able to live with myself? 

I had no doubt that Maison would do almost anything to 
eliminate me from his area of influence - and that he had got 
Commissioner Schreyer to fall in with his plans. What I 
couldn't understand was how she had been bent quite so 
easily to his will. 

But then, in an organization run as erratically as the 
European Commission, maybe she had at some point put her 
name to something that Maison was able to intimate didn't 
put her in a. fearfully good light. Wasn't this pretty much what 
they had been trying to do to me over the past few weeks? 



With Maison and Schreyer so clearly opposed to reform, I 
now felt that the least I could do, as Chief Accountant, was to 
alert others in the institution as to just how badly the 
accounting system was failing - and the apparent efforts 
being made to obscure that fact. 

I had hoped that my meeting with Commission Secretary 
General John Castle - scheduled for April 30 - might bring 

some support But fairly soon after I entered his office, in the 
Breydel 1 building, I realized that he was another high-up 
determined to keep a quiet life. 

He didn't routinely meet with recruits at my level, he 
explained as I sat down, but recognizing my responsibility as 
Chief Accountant he now conceded that in my case he should 
probably have done so. 

With well-oiled charm, he then set off on a gentle ramble 
about the Commission's difficulties in dealing with so many 
cultures and - a respectful glance across his desk here - issues 
possibly to do with nationality and gender. He glided on to 
touch on instances of ".. people who have not always been 
treated well in the past." 

In an effort to bring him back to planet earth, I told him 
bluntly that the situation that I was going through related 
very specifically to the lack of control of EU funds - for which 
I had to bear responsibility. "This is what I feel you need to be 
worried about and where I would appreciate your help." 

There was a slightly pained smile, as he fell back on a mantra 
that I was to hear so often at the Commission. "No one is 

saying that we do not have some problems, but I feel sure that 
over time they can be fixed." 

As I did not share his optimism, I decided to seek an 
interview with Commission President Romano Prodi - but 
then ran into the usual brick wall of bureaucracy. Clearly, 
direct interviews were out of the question. But while an 



assistant to Prodi's cabinet head assured me that my concerns 
would be passed on to the President, I was now well aware of 
the power that Commission officials had in filtering what 
their bosses were actually told. 

Next, I sought an interview with the Briton, Neil Kinnock. 
Clearly, he was a key player as Vice-President of the 
Commission - and one of the four Commissioners to have 
survived the 1999 purge of the Santer Commission. As 
Commissioner for Internal Audit, Administration and 
Personnel, he had been appointed as the loudly-trumpeted 
Reformer' to clear up the Commission's manifold problems. 

Indeed, on appointment, he had explicitly promised to show 
zero tolerance for anyone in the EU who was indulging in 
fraud. The Commission, Kinnock declaimed, would be 
"effectively and transparently managed" and would give 
"value for money." The Commission itself was to become so 
squeaky clean, that it would actually emerge as a model of 
governance for other national governments round Europe 
and that ".. Eurosceptics would have nothing to complain 
about." Great stuff! 

Kinnock had even allegedly set up a special charter for 
whistleblowers. But was I technically a whistle-blower - or 
someone just trying to do her job? 

From Kinnock's office I again heard that no interview was 
possible. But in a meeting with his cabinet head, Jan Hoop*, 
he voiced his enormous concern and stated that my claims 
would be certainly investigated. They would get to work on 
that straight away. But I soon realized that absolutely nothing 
was going to be done. 

On May 7, 1 contacted Hoop to tell him that I wasn't satisfied 
with the fact that I was asking for an interview with Kinnock 
and that this wasn't being granted. "I am now going to put my 
concerns to the Commissioner in writing " This cheered up 
Hoop in absolutely no way at all. But that same day I wrote 



also to the Commission s other Vice-President, Miss Loyola 
de Palacio, and to President Prodi. 

I had been in the job for over four months now and had still 
not received any reply to any of the notes written to Budget 
Commissioner Schreyer. The only response to those letters 
had been pressure behind closed doors to get me to sign a 
letter _ accepting responsibilities without limitations - on 
threat of dismissal. 

It was only then, in early May, that I received a letter from 

Schreyer - in which she finally acknowledged ".. all the notes 
you have been sending." But rather than addressing any of the 
issues raised, she waded in, along with some personal abuse, 
with allegations that my staff had been complaining about 
me and that I had disrupted the service. Not content with 
this, Schreyer again summoned me to her office and repeated 
her demand that I sign a letter accepting responsibility for 
accounts for which I had not yet seen proper documentation. 

I pointed out that I had already written her three letters on 
this issue and saw no need to write more. "I will sign for what 
I believe to be right - but not what I know is wrong or about 
which there are serious doubts." Once more, Schreyer 
threatened me with dismissal 

Meanwhile, my predecessor Lematin, who had been keeping 
his head down in Italy and resisting all invitations to 
complete a proper transfer of his old job to me, had also 
decided to weigh into the dispute. He wrote criticizing me for 
the letter that I had sent to the Directors General and 
accusing me of being ".. dismissive of the efforts of the 
Accounting team." 

At first, I was surprised at seeing him getting involved in this 
particular smear. But then, with his former close colleagues 
having failed to bounce me into signing off the 2001 
accounts, I could see that he was now part of a team effort 
which was changing tack. Their new charge was the allegation 



- virtually impossible either to prove or disprove - that 1 did 
not get on with, or appreciate, my staff. 

In my reply to him, I simply reminded him that he had not 
yet carried out a proper handover and not answered any 
of the specific points put to him in my letter of two 
months earlier. 

Without too much hope, but on the advice of a colleague, I 
now asked for an interview with Gunther Gress*, Director 


since he had been part of an interview panel the previous 
September 1 1, and 1 had heard him described as ".. a man who 
will do what he is told to keep his career on track." 

Indeed, my meeting with him, on May 13, only helped to 
confirm the Commission s essentially bankrupt philosophy 
and total disregard for justice, truth or equity. Gress chose to 

official it is always the official who would lose. 

Back in the Breydel 2 building, Maison's tricks were getting 
even dirtier. He scheduled a meeting to finalise the 
accounting reforms - without including any proposals on the 
computer systems - which would be sent to Schreyer, with 
whom we were convened to meet the following day. But just 
20 minutes before the meeting it was cancelled. 

That night I got a note from Schreyer informing me that I 
had failed to accomplish my duties as I had not yet sent her a 
draft of the communication on reform. Immediately, I 
responded that I had got the communication ready, but was 
supposed to get Maison's approval - as she had instructed - 
in the meeting that had been cancelled that same morning. 

Maison then informed me that he had cancelled that meeting 
because I had not submitted my draft of the communication 
to him the night before. I responded that he had not made it 
clear that he had actually wanted it the night before - and 



that he had in any case seen an earlier draft, with the 
successive modifications made in response to his 
observations, insofar as they could be incorporated within a 
sound financial framework. 

As our meeting with Schreyer to discuss all this had not been 
cancelled, I turned up at her office at the designated time - to 
be met by an apoplectic Zimmer who advanced on me 
angrily announcing that the meeting had been cancelled 
because of my failure to produce my draft communication on 
time. I tried to explain the reality and complexity of what had 
actually happened. But Zimmer was not to be deprived of his 
tantrum and he strode off with spectacular ill grace. 

Eerily, I could now see them carefully setting up - with all the 
necessary histrionics - one ambush after another, in which 
they desperately sought to nail me with some specific 
dereliction of duty. 

A few days later I got a call from Maire Geoghegan-QuinnV- 
whom I had met at the Court of Auditors on April 18 - 
cabinet head to let me know that copies of my letters to 
President Prodi and Vice-President Kinnock had come into 
their hands. "Did you mean to send them to us?" I said that 
that had not been my intention. 

He said he would tell Fabra Valles, President of the Court, 
that I would write to them that that had not been my 
intention and that I was ".. not requesting help from them." I 
could only respond that, while I had not specifically intended 
that the letters come their way, I had no reason to write 
refusing their help. 

I was puzzled by all this. In the past, the Auditors had so often 
shown themselves to be on my side. Several times, they had 
explicitly expressed the hope that I would finally fix the 
problems with the EU budget. There had been the support 
they had shown to me on my visit to them on April 18 - and 
the mauling they had administered to Maison. 



Though 1 wrote to them - officially seeking their help - 1 
wondered whether they were in fact seeking a way of 
"washing their hands" of me. I reflected that the Court of 
Auditors was not in fact truly independent - but also in the 
employ of the European Union. As well as its qualified 
professionals, it also, like the Commission itself, had its quota 
of political appointees. Had they also now been nobbled to 
line up against me and block any real reforms? 



My Responsibility 

as Chief Accountant 

is Removed 

The following day, May 22, 1 was informed of a meeting to be 
held with Kinnock the next day - but without any indication 
of what it would be about. However, at 1 lam, an hour before 
the meeting was scheduled to take place, a letter was hand- 
delivered from Schreyer informing me that she was prepared 
to relieve me of my responsibility as Chief Accountant. 

I wrote back immediately that it had never been my intention 
to be relieved of my job - and that I had always carried out 
my duties with professional propriety. 

With the meeting postponed by some 40 minutes, it was 
12.40pm when I was finally called to Schreyer's office. There, 
I found Neil Kinnock, Schreyer, Zimmer and Hoop already 
assembled around the meeting table. Kinnock, a 60-year-old 
Welshman, with his red hair now turning grey, was obviously 
in command of the show - and from the start his tone was 

"There has clearly been a breakdown in the relationship with 
your Commissioner, Michaele Schreyer," he declared. The 
trouble was with Maison, not Schreyer, I pointed out. "'The 



Budget Director General has caused my relationship with the 
Budget Commissioner to become tense. The breakdown was 
not with her" Schreyer simply shook her head at this - but 
said nothing. 

Kinnock ploughed on that they were planning to move me to 
another job in Financial Control. I pointed out that that 
made no sense. "In that new job, I will still be reporting to the 
same Commissioner. If you are saying that the problem is a 
breakdown in relationship with Miss Schreyer, then that 
problem is not going to go away* 

Clearly irritated by any form of logic, Kinnock now reddened 
and became more aggressive, and declared that they could 
move me wherever they wanted to - with or without my 
consent. Calmly, I asked, "So why have you called me to this 
meeting, if you can move me without my consent?" 

In fact, the reason now seemed pretty obvious. They wanted 
to remove me from the post of Chief Accountant where I had 
the authority and independence to argue for credible reforms 
- and also to tell other Commissioners, the European 
Parliament and Court of Auditors what was really going on 
with the accounting system. 

Presumably, the meeting had been set up either to provoke or 
bully me into quitting my job and leaving the Commission in 
disgust - or to slink away with some cosy, quiet, well- 
rewarded deal. Prom the start of the meeting, Kinnock's 
whole manner can have been intended only to anger, 
intimidate or humiliate. 

Unknown to me at that time, the day before this meeting 
Jules Muis had sent a private briefing note to Kinnock, his 
Commissioner, trying to warn him against any intemperate 
action against me. Flatteringly, Muis credited me with having 
".. grasped the key issues at hand very fast indeed" 

Kinnock should be " . very wary of such a senior civil servant 



who was asking all the right questions." My reform proposals 
were "factually substantive and correct." Getting rid of me 
". would be a serious blow to reform, sending a signal that the 
old ways of keeping things from happening still work" 

In fact, Muis's document - which became public only two 
years later - must have been one of the most scathing ever 
written on the Commission. In it, he described an ethos of 
poor spending controls and where I had struggled against an 
"intrinsically hostile work environment" beset by "a 
profound lack of qualified staff, a host of vacancies and 
absentees, an entrenched mindset." 

He described the budget machinery as "vintage public sector 
in the 1960s" run by a French Director- General who "did not 
see the need for any accounting system at all." There was a 
culture of "arm-twisting " where "might makes right whatever 
one's professional convictions " The staff had a "top-down 
managerial mono-culture" and were in "a deep state of denial 
on the quality of the existing systems." 

In a withering aside directed at Budget Commissioner 
Michaele Schreyer, Muis concluded that reform was doomed 
without a Commissioner "who has the stamina and spine to 
take a lot of shit." 

For reasons that were to become only too obvious later on, 
Kinnock paid not the faintest regard to this document during 
our meeting - and indeed I suspect he even kept its existence 
secret from his fellow Commissioners in their deliberations 

on my case. 

We concluded our ill-tempered meeting on that Thursday, May 
23, with an agreement that I would have until, the following 
Monday to ponder the proposed job change - and that no one 
would disclose what had been said to outside parties. 

It was an agreement that had already been broken. As soon as 
I got back to my office I got a call from the assistant of an 


MEP to say that Schreyer and Kinnock had been to the 
Parliament that morning - even before seeing me. They had 
spoken with members of the MEPs* Budgetary Control 
Committee - to tell them that they were preparing to dismiss 
me on the grounds of my ".. incompetence and dishonesty 
on recruitment." 

Later that evening, I was still in my office when there was 
another call - long after my secretary had gone. Normally, I 
wouldn't have picked up the phone, but I thought it might be 
my husband Octavio ringing from Spain. "Could I speak with 
Miss Andreasen? M Wary now, I told the caller that she was not 

"Well, I am a journalist with the German magazine Stern. My 
name is Hans Martin Tillack." (None other than the journalist 
already mentioned on page 60). "I would like to speak with Miss 
Andreasen to hear her opinion about her dismissal" Again, I 
pointed out that she was not there. "Where can I get hold of her? 
Because I have been told that the Budget Commissioner is right 
now writing her letter of dismissal" 

I was staggered to have confirmation of my dismissal from a 
journalist. But that was by no means the only piece of 
underhand dealing. For example, Shreyer's letter informing 
me of the meeting that was to take place on May 23 had been 
dated May 22 - but it was only hand-delivered to me at about 
the last possible moment, at 1 lam, on May 23, just before my 
meeting with hen This was presumably to enable someone to 
falsely claim, at some later stage, that I had been given some 
form of adequate notice of what was happening. 

The following day, May 24, Maison sent out a staff memo 
saying that on the Wednesday, May 22 - the day before I had 
seen Kinnock - the College of Commissioners had decided to 
relieve me of my responsibility as Chief Accountant. 

Neither Schreyer, Kinnock nor anyone else at the meeting of 
May 23 had mentioned that such a decision had already been 



taken. On the internet, I saw that there was no reference to it 
in the minutes of the Commissioners* May 22 meeting. 
However the documents 1 obtained later in relation to my 
disciplinary procedure, confirm that the decision had indeed 
been taken on May 22 and before the meeting with Shreyer. 
By taking such precipitate action, they had seriously breached 
the staff regulations. These state that an official has a right to 
be heard before any decision is taken that may affect him or 
her. This initial and fundamental breach of procedure on 
their side was systematically ignored both by the internal 
disciplinary board and by the European Court of Justice. In 
his staff memo, Maison added that he had asked his deputy 
Mogen to take charge of the Budget Execution Director 
function - another decision on which the Commissioners 
had not yet made any public statement. 

Of course, I was appalled at the callous and chaotic way in 

which this whole affair was being handled. My staff were now 
understandably concerned, making their way to my office to 
ask what was going on. Since Schreyer had taken it upon 
herself to inform MEPs of my dismissal before even telling 
me, I realized that the least I could do was to let them have my 
version of events. 

To ten MEPs - representing a wide cross-section of different 
political and national groups - I registered my objections to 
being relieved of my Chief Accountant role and my surprise 
at hearing this justified by a personal fall-out between 
Schreyer and myself. Further, I detailed the real cause of the 
controversy: my concern over key failings in the management 
of Community funds. 

Knowing that I had no witnesses on my side at the May 23 
meeting with Kinnock and Schreyer, I sent my minutes of the 
discussion to all the Commissioners. 

This enraged Kinnock's cabinet head, Hoop. Shortly 
afterwards he phoned in a rage to ask me why I had done that. 



"Because you never issue minutes " I replied. "You were not 
taking any minutes at this meeting and I thought it right that 
people should have a true account of what was said." Indeed, 
when Hoop later released his minutes they differed 
substantially from mine - making no reference to the fact 
that I had stressed that the breakdown in relationships was 
essentially with Maison and not with Schreyer. 

On boarding a flight to Barcelona that Friday night, May 24, 
two airport employees approached to deliver a fax from the 
Commission which I refused to take. It was clearly absurd 
that, with my having been in the office the entire working day, 
they should choose to deliver a communication to me 
through airport personnel. 

The next morning, a friend in the UK rang to tell me that the 
Financial Times carried the story of my dismissal - which 
explained the Commission's desperation to deliver a fax to 
me at Brussels airport. The article itself could only have been 
written with a high-level briefing from people at the 

Back in Brussels on Monday morning, Schreyer called me to 
her office to hand me a letter - dated Friday, May 24 - which 
informed me that, in its May 22 meeting, the 
Commissioners had decided to strip me of my job as Chief 
Accountant. She enclosed a page that seemed to be an annex 
to the minutes of the Commission meeting in which this 
was mentioned - (notwithstanding its earlier absence from 
the internet.) But the letter made no mention of the reasons 
for my dismissal, nor of my role as Budget Execution 
Director, nor where I would now be moved, nor any other 
decision about my future. 

While I sat in my office, waiting for more news on this, 
Schreyer wrote to me - presumably in response to my May 24 
letter to MEPs - alleging that I had accused Maison, herself, 
the entire Commission, Parliament, the Court of Auditors 



and Member States of promoting a new Financial Regulation 
that would simply increase the risks of error and fraud. She 
invited me to withdraw or substantiate such allegations. 

She also said that she had always claimed in our meetings - 
when I had commented on the draft of the new Financial 
Regulation - that the regulation did not fall within my sphere 
of competence as Budget Execution Director. 

In reply, I pointed out that, "My comments on the regulation 
were only on its draft - while it was still awaiting approval by 
Parliament and Council - and that it was my duty to alert 
people to its financial risks, as I have done on several 
occasions with you, the Budget Director General and his 
team." I offered to substantiate my concern over its financial 
risks - but this time in a public hearing before Parliament or 
the Council of Ministers. 

Next came a letter from her - "answering on behalf of the 
President and Vice-Presidents of the Commission" - in 
response to my letters, written almost a month earlier, where 
I sought their support in implementing reforms. 

Basically, she claimed that my observations had revealed 
nothing new and that it was in this context that the 
Commission had appointed me Chief Accountant: to prepare 
a draft communication on the modernization of the 
accounting system - which had to be cleared by Maison. She 
regretted that I had failed to do this - and intended to use this 
as the reason for my dismissal. 

But in this letter, Schreyer rather shot herself in the foot. By 
claiming that the draft communication had to be cleared by 
Maison, she was essentially denying the independence of 
Chief Accountant. Indeed, in its various arguments to the 
public, and even later to the European Court of Justice, the 
Commission had always claimed that the communication of 
the accounting reform, and the reform itself, had to be the 
responsibility of the Budget Execution Director. 



It was not until a week later that I heard from Kinnock that - 
in the "interest of the service" - I was being transferred from 
being Budget Execution Director to becoming a Principal 
Adviser at the Administration and Personnel Directorate. The 
Brussels equivalent of Siberia. 

As that letter was being delivered, one of Maison's staff 
arrived at my office to pick up all the documents on my 

which I had never received answers to my queries. No list of 
authorised signatories had yet been given to me either. 

That same day I was moved to an office in the language centre 

shaft, and had no other furniture than a cupboard, a desk and 
one chair. There was no telephone or computer connection, 
and my mobile phone was able to pick up no signal. 

Soon after, I met with the Personnel Director General Gress 
to discuss the new responsibilities he was "thinking" of giving 
to me as a Principal Adviser. He referred to certain 
administrative aspects relating to the Research Centre at 
ISPRA - but without going into details. He said he would get 
back to me within the month. 

In that time, Lematin finally got round to sending me papers 
that he chose to describe as a 'handover' document. "Here are 
the accounts for the year 2001," he wrote, "which you have to 
sign in approval." What was he trying to do: get my signature 
in receipt, and then claim this as some form of agreement 
with the accounts? As he had not signed them himself, from 
an accountancy point of view, they were completely worthless 
as a transfer of responsibility. 

I still believed in the European Parliament, and that it 
should be told about the real reasons for my dismissal, and 
the seriousness of the Commission's lack of financial 
controls. So I introduced a petition to the relevant 

Parliamentary committee (Petitions Committee) asking to 



be heard by Parliament before the new Financial Regulation 

had been approved. 

On June 20, I received confirmation that the petition had 
been declared admissible and that a letter had been sent to the 
chairwoman of the Budgetary Control Committee, in the 
European Parliament, asking them to hear me on my 
complaints about the accounting system and the Financial 
Regulation which had not yet been approved by themselves 
and the Council of Ministers. 

Further, T also wrote to all the Spanish MEPs conveying 
my concerns and offering to explain them in greater detail 
in person. 

After the report of my 'axing' in the Financial Times, the press 
started taking an interest in what was going on and how I was 
being treated. I refused to talk to them. 

For their part, the Commission, obviously aware of the 
interest generated by their own abrupt and inexplicable firing 
of the Chief Accountant, continued to speak to the press 
freely - saying pretty much whatever suited them. 

In a letter to European Voice, Kinnocks press spokesman 
baldly asserted that w „ Andreasen did not discover any new 
problems . " and in a bizarre travesty of the truth he claimed, 
"the Commission launched a reform of its accounting 
systems in 1999 .." reform that has ".. received approval from 
the Court of Auditors and has been carefully scrutinized both 
by Parliament and Council." Amazing. 

Over the next few weeks, Commission officials variously 
briefed journalists that I had been fired because J was 
incompetent, couldn't get on with my staff; that my 
recruitment had been a mistake; that Schreyer had hired me 
only because she wanted another woman in the job. 

Rather than recognizing that it might be fair to let me give my 
version of what had actually happened, Personnel Director 



General Gress, wrote saying that it had been brought to his 
attention that I intended to meet with journalists - which was 
not the case. Stuffily, he reminded me of my duty of 
discretion "to preserve the relationship of trust which must 
exist between the institution and its officials." 

Given the continued press briefing and whispering campaign 
against me by Commission officials, this sounded like a bad 
joke. I wrote back to Gress - citing Article 24 of staff 
regulations - asking for protection from the defamatory acts 
and utterances being made by Commission press officials and 
Budget Commissioner Schreyer. It was four months before he 
replied to this letter. By that time I had already been 
suspended for 2 months and Commission officials had 
spoken out publicly as much as they could against me. 

At the language centre, my office remained bare and 
cheerless. Though the telephone was now working, I didn't 
trust using it. I had no job and nothing to do and few people 
to talk to. I found out that the building was being used pretty 
much as a repository - a penalty box or limbo - for others 
whom the Commission wanted to sideline or who had 
allegedly disgraced themselves in some way. 

On July 2, I found a letter about me on the internet to 
Kinnock from the head of the Commission's legal service. 
Kinnock had apparently been seeking their advice on how to 
prevent me from appearing before the Parliament's 
Budgetary Control Committee in relation to the petition that 
I had introduced. 

The head of the legal service advised against trying to 
prevent me speaking to Parliament by launching a 
disciplinary procedure against me. Indeed, he expressed 
doubt about the suitability, on legal grounds, of any 
disciplinary process being attempted, given that the issue ".. 
does not relate to concerns about actual wrongdoing, only 
to an internal difference of opinion, in this case about how 
to prevent possible fraud in future." 



That very same day, Kinnock wrote telling me that a 
disciplinary procedure had been launched against me - and 
that I would be contacted for a hearing. He stated that the 
charges against me would be based on violations of staff 
regulations - in contacting the Court of Auditors and the 
European Parliament - and a failure to produce a 
communication on the accounting reform. 

I didn't believe that any disciplinary procedure could 
progress on such absurd grounds. I felt encouraged that the 
Commission's own legal service appeared to share that view. 
It didn't seem possible that any court would uphold the claim 
that the Chief Accountant should not have the freedom to 
approach the Court of Auditors or even European Parliament 

- which is after all the body that has to approve the way that 
the Commission has managed taxpayers' money. 

Jacques Mon - the person acting as temporary Chief 
Accountant after my removal - now asked that I sign the 
accounts for the period when I was in office: January to May 
2002. This seemed like another bad joke as I had still not 
received a proper hand-over statement from my predecessor. 

I wrote to both Mon and Schreyer that I would sign when I 
had been shown all the accounting records and books on 
which the financial statements were based. Needless to say, I 
never signed for my time in office. The records were never 
sent and indeed even such basic documentation was not kept 
by the Commission. 

Advised by friends in the Commission, I now decided to take 
my case to the European Court of First Instance. This is the 
court that has the task of ensuring that the law is observed in 
the interpretation and application of the Community Treaties 

- and I appealed to it in December 2002, against my removal 
as Chief Accountant, and, in June 2003, against my suspension, 

I looked for lawyers but, in the EU-dominated world of 
Brussels, found none willing to take my case on. So I decided 



to launch my own internal complaint against my transfer 
to the Personnel and Administration directorate as 
Principal Adviser. 

This was the step I had to take if the court were to consider 
my appeal admissible. The Commission then had up to three 
months to respond, and if they did not, the complaint was 
deemed to be rejected by them and could then proceed 
to court. 

On July 22, three weeks after Kinnock wrote to me about the 
opening of disciplinary proceedings, he wrote again: this time 
announcing his intention to suspend me. He told me that I 
would be hearing from the same official, Colin Wall, whom 
he had already appointed to investigate the earlier allegations 
- but from whom I had not yet heard. 

For me, this threat of suspension seemed like the apogee of 
hypocrisy. I am not by nature a person who likes publicity, 
but as the Commission's press campaign continued against 
me, and I had had no response to my request for help on that 
from Gress, and was now facing the threat of suspension, I 
finally decided to speak to the press. 

An invitation had come from Britain's Conservative MEPs to 
speak at a press conference in Westminster, and on August I, 
2002, I was at last able to explain publicly that the EU's 
accounting system was "massively open to fraud" as nearly all 
its transactions were impossible to trace. 

"Even more serious, I was asked blatantly to contradict 
financial regulations by signing off accounts, despite knowing 
them to be untrue. I was not granted the freedom to address 
these shortcomings and, worse, actively discouraged from 
alerting others. 

"Despite official press briefings against me and appearances 
on this issue by Commissioner Kinnock and his staff, I have 
been repeatedly reminded of my obligation to remain silent. 


Commissioner Kinnock has even tried to prevent me 
from appearing before key parliamentary committees on 

At that point, I decided to go on the holiday which I had 
applied for over a month earlier - and to which I had heard 
no objection. But as I was leaving on the afternoon of August 
2, two officials approached me with a letter - which I 
indicated that I would accept on my return. 

When I got back, I found correspondence that indicated that 
I had been called for a hearing on my suspension on August 
7 - when officials knew that I would be away. There was also 
documentation on the delivery of a document, by notary, to 
a temporary concierge at my home in Barcelona - though 
this never reached my hands. 

This all seemed to be part of the same harassing procedures 
that I had already seen on display when, having been in my 
office all day on May 24, the Commission had decided to 
wait, till the last possible moment, to deliver a fax by way of 
airport officials at Brussels airport. 

On the day of my return from holiday I also heard from Colin 
Wall - the hearing official on the disciplinary procedures 
launched against me - calling me for a meeting on my 

suspension for the following day. I replied that I had no 
lawyer, and had not yet been given any of the details of the 
allegations made against me. I also notified Kinnock that, 
given the circumstances, I could hardly be expected to appear 
for any hearing. 

Kinnock simply wrote back with more accusations: that I had 
been absent from Brussels on August 1 - the day of the 
London press conference - without permission, and that I 
had spoken to the press. 

The next day I received a letter from the Commission that it 
had decided to suspend me. There was also a letter from the 


Personnel Director General Gress outlining my rights and 
obligations as a suspended official. I would continue to 
receive my full salary but was forbidden from entering any 
Commission buildings; I would have to continue living in 

Brussels and be available at any time. 

But while Kinnock now seemed determined to pursue me 
with every minuscule, pettifogging, hair-splitting infraction 
of the rules on which he could scrape up evidence, it had 
recently emerged that his own behavior had apparently been 
less than squeaky clean. 

Talcing advantage of an arrangement whereby Commission 
officials were able to have their salaries adjusted according to 
the cost of living of their own country, he had been able to 
add another 20% to his annual pay. This concession had 
originally been intended for those who had to work in 
Brussels but, with young families or other problems, had to 
maintain dependents in their home countries, and thus 
might suffer unfairly by coming under the Belgian regime. 

For a man whose two grown-up children had already left 
home, and had no need to maintain any dependents in the 
UK, the concession seemed unnecessary. Indeed, for someone 
already enjoying a free, chauffeur- driven car, an 
entertainment allowance of £7,000 a year, a £24,000-a-year 
housekeeping allowance, and whose MEP wife - on £55,000 
a year and up to £1 15,000 in expenses - was in any case living 
with him in Brussels, this extra perk seemed, even to 
Commission officials, a teensy bit greedy. 

Questioned on the BBC about this undeclared windfall 
offering - courtesy of European taxpayers - Kinnock simply 
snarled that it was "an entirely personal matter" and refused 
further discussion. In fact, he argued his entitlement to the 
concession with the Court of Auditors for a further two years 
before they finally saw things his way. Of course, they were 
paid out or the European budget which was managed by the 
Commission of which he was vice-president. 



But for some, this hardly made him seem the whiter-than- 
white 'reformer' that they were looking for to reform and lead 
the great European project They saw him more as a nitpicking 
martinet who was such a stickler for the rules as they applied 
to the behavior of other people, but not to himself. 

Indeed, with talk in the air of my dismissal, and with some in 
the Commission apparently hell-bent on ending my career in 
Brussels, it was difficult to avoid the impression that there 
was some ambivalence in the application of EU rules. 

So T was intrigued to read in the London Times, in September 
2002, that over the previous five years the Commission had 
sacked just one person ., although it refused to say for what. Yet 
the list of almost 50 cases of proven misconduct which might 
have persuaded most employers to part company with their 
employees included rape, fraud, forgery, assault, harassment, 
misuse of funds, theft, and possession of paedophile 
pornography. In the majority of cases, the offenders were 
given reprimands, written warnings or "admonitions." A total 
of 15 were moved to other posts or demoted. 

With this relaxed, laid-back attitude towards their own 
employees' errant behaviour, it seemed odd that some 
Commission officials were still going to such lengths to 
prevent a former Chief Accountant speaking to the 
Community's own parliamentarians about what was 
happening to their taxpayers' money. But the fight over my 
petition to address the Parliament's Budgetary Control 
Committee rumbled on, with its MEP members finally 
agreeing that I could do so - subject to the approval of the 
Conference of Presidents. 

This was composed of the heads of the Parliament's various 
political groupings. But a month later, in October 2002, they 
announced that they could not allow such a hearing as I was 
".. under disciplinary procedure .." and the ".. inter- 
institutional agreement signed does not allow them to hear a 



disciplined official." This wasn't actually true as, at that point, 
the disciplinary procedure hadn't started, and was deemed 
only as "possible." 

Presumably, someone in the Commission had helpfully 
provided them with a way out of hearing me - which had 
been seized on with alacrity. Of all the various Parliamentary 
groups only the EDD - the European Democracy and 
Diversity Group - had been willing to hear me, but they had 
been well outnumbered by the giant battalions of MEPs 
representing liberals, socialists, conservatives, neo-fascists 
and others. 

As mentioned earlier, this was the same Parliament that year 
after year - notwithstanding the Court of Auditors' 
reservations - gave discharge to the Commission's annual 
accounts. But maybe this simply represented the rules of what 
Maison in his immortal words described as the "inter- 
institutional game' between Commission and Parliament; 
'you let me do what 1 want and I'll let you do what you want.' 

A handful of MEPs were enormously helpful, energetic and 
supportive on my behalf, but too many represented a poor 
return on their salaries of some 80,000 euros a year and a 
pathetic attitude towards their constituents' enlightenment, 
wallets and the whole issue of free speech and open criticism 
within the European Union. 

Before the year was out, however, I had finally located - after 
a four months' search - a lawyer, prepared to represent me in 
my case against the Commission, and to work on a pro bono 
basis. He was a man who appeared to be on my side. 




Suspended for 18 

Months and my 



The disciplinary process unrolled against me continued at 
glacial pace and with scant regard for natural justice. The 
whole notion of suspension was that it should be an Interim 
measure' to cover some emergency situation that had to be 

dealt with quicldy. 

In iy case, I did not get to see the official appointed to 
investigate the allegations - Colin Wall*, Director General of 
the EU's Publications Office - for nearly four months from 
the date of Commissioner Kinnock's letter, of July 22 2002, 
threatening me with suspension. 

In the almost surrealistic, looking-glass world of the EU, I 
then heard from the Dutch 'whistleblower' Paul van Buitenen 
that Wall was himself under investigation, as his department 
was named in a hefty 234-page dossier - backed up by 5,000 
documents - that van Buitenen had passed on to OLAF. 

Van Buitenen - not yet elected as an MEP, and describing 
himself simply as an EU citizen - nevertheless took it upon 



himself to fire off a letter to Commissioner Kin nock, 
protesting various features of the case thus far; the fact that 
Kinnock had initiated disciplinary procedures against me - 
despite the advice of the Commission's Legal Service and 
Investigation and Disciplinary Office not to do so. 

He pointed out that Kinnock had nominated the Director 
General of the EU Publications Office, as president of an 
inquiry into me, despite the fact that his department was 
itself under investigation by OLAF. 

While Colin Wall had recently written to me, calling me for a 
hearing with a view to a "possible launch of a disciplinary 
procedure/* Kinnock had communicated to the European 
Parliament that I was already under disciplinary procedure. 
This meant that the conference of presidents, at the European 
Parliament, voted by a majority not to hear me in their 
Budgetary Control Committee. 

Despite the fact that Wall had interviewed other officials 
about my case, he had refused to supply either me or my 
lawyer with copies of the relevant Invitation letters' or 
minutes of the hearings- claiming secrec, 

This was in direct contravention to assurances made by 
Kinnock to van Buitenen in 2001, when Kinnock had asserted 
that an official under inquiry had the right to such 
information for as long as the case was open. 

In the event, OLAF never came up with anything on Wall that 
they felt warranted prosecution, and after van Buitenen's 
letter had received the usual dyspeptic brush-off from 
Kinnock, the first hearing finally took place in Luxembourg, 
where the EU Publications Office is located, on November 19, 
2002. 1 was accompanied by my lawyer. 

Wall, a 57-year-old man, gave the impression of making a 
genuine and meticulous effort to elucidate how I had been 
recruited and treated during my time with the Commission, 
as some half dozen of us sat round a table in his office. 



He didn't mention, however, that he was already in the 
process of interviewing 15 witnesses - all of them 
Commission employees and understandably, with regard to 
their careers and pensions, unlikely to rush to the cause of a 
person they could see being crucified. More to the point, he 
didn't invite me to nominate any witnesses of my own. 

At one point in the hearing, Wall raised the sexist issue - he 
muttered that it must have been difficult for me to be 
surrounded and up against so many men. Yet I had never seen 
the problem as a sexist issue and 1 had no intention of letting 
the investigation be diverted into that muddy backwater. 

Although minutes of this meeting, and Wall's witness 
interviews, were completed before the end of 2002, 1 was not 
able to get hold of a copy of his full report until April 2004. 

During that time I was honoured with the Frode Jacobsen 
Award - for civic honesty and courage - in Denmark, and 
voted Personality of the Year by the readers of Accountancy 
Age magazine in Britain, 

While waiting to hear from the Commission, I was invited to 
speak at professional conferences on matters related to internal 
controls, risk assessment and strategies to combat fraud among 
other things. As 1 didn't receive any fees for these talks, and as 
my presentation related to the importance of having a reliable 
accounting system as the first step to preventing fraud, I saw no 
reason for declining such invitations. 

I made it clear that I spoke as the former Chief Accountant of 
the European Commission and mentioned only those 
matters already in the public domain - such as the Court of 
Auditors" reports, Commission Accounts or the post-Santer 
report of the 'Wise Men.' 

It was only in September 2003, when Personnel Director 
General Gunther Gress wrote to me, that I became aware that, 
even as a suspended official, I needed permission to give such 


talks. In writing back, I assured him that everything I spoke 
on nau already oeen made puDiic ano i duty asKeci tor 
permission for those talks that I had not yet given. According 
to my reading of staff regulations, I knew that such 
authorization could not be denied ".. unless the activity is 
contrary to the interests of any EU institution." 

It was clear that not even the EU could withhold permission 
without recognizing that the interests of the EU were not the 
ones they proclaimed and that the lack of controls was in 
their real interest. 

Gress duly granted permission. Yet two months later, in 
November 2003, Commissioner Kinnock - back in Archangel 
Gabriel mode - wrote informing me that as I had spoken at 
earlier conferences without permission there would have to 
be another hearing into this. 

It was difficult to avoid the suspicion, however, that this latest 
flurry of activity on a matter of such mind-numbing triviality 
was partly an effort on the Commission's part to show that 
they had maintained some contact with me during those long 
months when absolutely nothing was being done on the 
disciplinary process. Further, the objection which Kinnock 
now raised about my earlier unauthorized conference talks 
could be interpreted as a somewhat desperate attempt to add 
to a dossier of thus far very feeble complaints against me. 

The hearing into the matter was held in Brussels, on February 
19, 2004, and consisted of Colin Wall working his way 
through the press coverage of the meetings and conferences 
to which I had been invited in different parts of Europe. Had 
I spoken about this aspect of the Commission's work? Had I 
mentioned that? 

Eventually, 1 told Wall that I was unwilling to answer any 
more of his questions. a If you have any specific allegations to 
make against me, I will answer them. I can only repeat that 
everything I said about the work and accounting of the 



Commission was already in the public domain. If you have 
any evidence that I spoke otherwise, let's see it." 

The following month, March 2004, I finally heard from 
Personnel Director General Gress that a report had been sent 
by the Appointing Authority to the Disciplinary Board - an 
action that represented the formal start of disciplinary 

But it was to be another month, April 7, before I finally got 
hold of Wall's report. From the date stamp on its cover, it was 
evident that it had been received by Kinnock's office on April 
23, 2003, and had thus been sitting there for almost a whole 
year. Yet, when my lawyer had inquired, at my behest, about 
its progress the previous July (2003) Kinnock's staff flatly 
denied having yet received it. 

It was also fairly obvious that there had in fact been two 
versions of the report. As well as having two separate cover 
sheets, there were so many instances where its fairly harsh 
conclusions - "serious Infringement of Staff Regulations" - 
simply didn't fit with the facts that Wall had so meticulously 

Could it have been that the first report concluded that there 
was nu case for dismissal, and then the hapless Wall had been 
informed that he had somehow missed the whole point of the 
exercise - and that he had better to get back to work? 

Some of the witness statements included in the report gave a 
wildly skewed version of events. Maybe the memory of Pierre 
Sachet, of the Court of Auditors, was playing tricks with him 
when he asserted that it was I who insisted on a meeting with 
him in January 2002 - (having been in the job for one week, 
if you please) - and that it was I who had launched a verbal 
assault on Maison and his colleagues and their working 
methods. An exact reversal of the truth. 

In fact, I had spent all of one hour, at just one meeting with 
Sachet. Why were there no witness statements from others at 



the Court of Auditors, with whom I had worked in frequent 

and productive harmony over several months? 

As if this documentation was not bad enough, the 
composition of the Disciplinary Board itself was alarming. 
Only its President, a Portuguese judge> who had retired from 
the European Court of First Instance, could he seen as having 
some mildly independent status. 

All four others - senior civil servants of or above my grade - 
were still serving members of the Commission. Since all four 
were current, and apparently satisfied, participants in a 
clearly vulnerable accounting system, they were hardly likely 
to come down on my side. 

Under staff rules, I could have rejected all who had been 
proposed. Discussing this with my lawyer, he argued that if I 
behaved well, and showed myself to be amenable, I was likely 
to receive ".. a very light sanction .." from the board. But there 
was one proposed board member - under investigation 
himself, and allegedly up to his neck in trouble at Eurostat — 
that I insisted had to go. 

As well as Wall's report, the board now dumped on me and 
my lawyer all the paperwork relating to the case - a file 
amounting to some thousand pages. They then announced - 
having refused us sight of any documents at all for the 
previous 16 months - that the first meeting of the board 
would be held in two weeks* time: April. 21, 2004. 

I urged my lawyer not to accept this date as we would clearly 
need more time to read and analyse all that we had been 
given. But he was as sanguine as ever. He had been assured by 
the President of the Board that the first meeting was simply 
an 'organisational' one at which we would agree an agenda for!* XtlLUllv^ ilv<ii HXjib* 

Essentially, the charges against me were that I had not gone 
through the proper protocol in lodging my complaints about 



the accounting system - (despite the fact that Maison had not 
only attempted to block any reform but any discussion of 
reform); that I had not gone through the correct hierarchy in 
voicing my criticism to the Court of Auditors - (despite the 
fact that the Court had approached me directly, making 
almost similar complaints from the start of my time in office 
as Chief Accountant); that I should not have aired my views 
to Parliament - (despite the fact that Kinnock and Schreyer 
had told MEPs of my planned dismissal, before informing 
me); that I should not have spoken to the press without 
permission - (despite the fact that Commission officials had 
spent the entire summer of 2002 briefing against me); that I 
had not told the Commission of my suspension from the 
OECD - (despite the fact that Commissioner Schreyer had 
herself raised the issue in our very first telephone 
conversation); that I had spoken at conferences without 
permission - (relating information that had in fact already 
long been in the public domain). 

It was difficult not to compare the strength of these charges 
against me with the latitude extended to the wilful and 
freewheeling ways of Monsieur Maison during the time we 
had been together in office. For over a period of five months, 
the Director General had comprehensively ignored Treaty 
rules on my independence as Chief Accountant, and on my 
overall authority over computer systems. He had put all kinds 
of pressure on me to sign accounts for which there was no 
proper documentation. He had done nothing to insist on a 
proper handover process from my predecessor on my coming 
into office; he had repeatedly failed to provide a 
comprehensive job description of my appointments; and he 
had often allowed temporary officials to sit in on highly 
confidential Commission deliberations. 

All in all, I felt the case against me was so weak that it was 
something that any vigorous advocate should have been able 
to blow out of the water at the first hearing. 



Relations, on April 21, was both nightmare and disaster. My 
lawyer, who was in any case involved in another big case at the 
time, took it upon himself to start rewriting his introductory 
statement for the court on the morning of the hearing itself. 

Five minutes before we should have left his office, he was still 
making changes that 1 did not get the chance to see. At one 
point in this shambles, I discovered that he proposed telling 
the court that I apologized and was prepared even to be 
downgraded. I was not. 

Eventually, we arrived at the court ten minutes late. Not a 
good start. There were some eight of us sitting round a large 
table. As soon as he opened the proceedings, Martin Berry, 
the senior member of the Board, and Director General for 
External Relations - demolished any notion that I was to get 
a fair hearing. We had arrived late, and he informed us that he 
had little time to waste on such matters. In other words, we 
should say what we had to say so that he could be off. 

My lawyer summarized my case - my attempts to rectify an 
accounting system that was badly failing the taxpayers of 
Europe, To this Berry replied that this was a political world 
and those who did not agree with the policies of their 

From there, things only got worse. For the next 20 minutes, 
the four remaining board members - and with no judicial or 
any other kind of formal procedure - bombarded me with 
questions on statements I was alleged to have made, culled 
from the European press from over the previous two years. 
All were extremely hostile and aggressive about what one saw- 
as my "disgusting behavior," 

And that was it. 

As neither my lawyer nor I had been supplied with any of the 
documentation of this latest catalogue of complaints, it was 

clearly a lost cause. 



When the board set a date for the next hearing - for just two 
weeks later - I pleaded with my lawyer to ask for a 
postponement. I knew that we needed far more time. The 
whole thing had become absurd; all this rush and mess when 
the Commission had taken nearly two years to launch 

Bluntly, I had to tell him, "I am not ready for this second 
hearing and I don't believe you are either." We had a row 
about it. Unfazed, he simply told me that he had spoken with 
the secretary of the Board, who had told him that its 
members were actually on my side. Given their conduct, 
proceedings, views and manners at the first hearing, I found 
this hard to believe. But then 1 could see no other pro bono 
lawyer on the horizon, and I could not afford a proper one. 

At my lawyer's insistence, we went ahead with the hearing 
scheduled for May 7, at which Commission lawyer, Luc 
Sanden*, did his best to downplay the responsibility, 
independence and powers of the Commission's Chief 
Accountant. In fact, the EU Treaties and staff rules were quite 
clear that the Chief Accountant had both pecuniary and legal 
responsibility for the accounts being correct. I badly needed a 
lawyer who could pick his way through the legal thicket of 
rules on these points and present the essentials of my case 
with clarity and vigour. Sadly, that lawyer was not on display 
on May 7. 

My dissatisfaction with my lawyer came to an abrupt head a 
few weeks later when he failed to pass on my requests for 
documentation to the Board. Obviously, it would have been 
legally risky to suggest that he had been out to sabotage my 
case from the start. Well knowing the ways of the 
Commission by then - and its amazing medley of tricks for 
getting at' people - 1 was appalled. 

So I decided to fight the case on my own. At that point, given 
that T had not been allowed into any Commission building, 



or had had access to their records for almost two years, I 
asked for various documents crucial to my case - including 
the annual declarations of the Directors General. I also 
requested the minutes of the Disciplinary Boards meetings 
on my case. These were refused and only part of the other 
documentation arrived - a month after it had been requested. 

By then the Board had at least conceded the right for me to 
nominate my own witnesses - given that the rules laid down 
that ".. if the sanction to be imposed is believed to be more 
serious than a warning . ." then the person facing disciplinary 
action could bring witnesses. 

A hearing of these witnesses was initially set for before the 
summer break. But as some of the officials involved had 
requested holidays for that period, the Board scheduled the 
hearing for September 9, 2004. This was a date on which they 
had already been informed that neither I, for pressing family 
reasons, nor one of my three witnesses would be able to 
attend. I remonstrated with them - the hearing went ahead 
anyway without us. 

One of my witnesses did, however, submit a statement for this 
hearing. This was the gallant and forthright Jules Muis, 
former Director General of Internal Audit, who had lasted at 
the Commission only until April 2004 - just three years into 
his post. I then found out some of the pressures that he too 
had been under at the Commission, and that he couldn't talk 
about, when my own troubles were reaching crisis point. 

Indeed, Muis went public in citing very much the same 
difficulties as myself, in cutting down on fraud and waste, 
and in his inability to conduct sweeping audit inquiries. "I 
look forward to the Commission (defining) what it wants 
with the Internal Audit Service (IAS), because that is not 
clear even to me." 

He pointed out that the Commission's financial report, 
which he read on taking office had been "shockingly 


primitive. 55 Since then, an improvement had been only 
"gradual" He reckoned he had achieved only "40 per cent of 
what I wanted to do, and all of it has been uphill." 

He was to go into even more forceful detail on some of these 
points in the eloquently blunt statement he made on my 
behalf for the hearing on September 9, 2004. In it, he asserted 
that he knew of no professional accountant having to start 
their job with as vulnerable and undefined an opening 
balance sheet as I had. 

"I would for no money or professional reward wanted to have 
been in Ms Andreasen's professional shoes when this all 
played out, recognizing the unforgiving inclination of a 
bureaucracy, once one is declared taboo by the powers that be 
.. and .. considering the collective firepower it can marshal to 
trash an individual it has singled out." 

He suggested the Commission take heed of the signals the 
case would send out to other accounting professionals, if it 
were resolved on the basis of power politics alone. 

seemed, by comparison, like a picnic given that he had no 

responsibilities" Also, he did have Director General status, 
though ".. This did not stop one Chef de Cabinet from telling 
me once in private, 'We have ways of breaking people like you.*" 

He insisted that I was very much the outsider in a sink or 
swim situation in a very unfriendly pond - and in a 
directorate with "an incestuous esprit de corps ... not 
particularly taken by aliens imposed from a different world." 

Though he felt that the accounting and auditing of the 
Commission and Court of Auditors showed " , a major long- 
standing compliance gap with standard practice," he believed 
that of the five different Accountants he dealt with in his first 
two years at the Commission, "Miss Andreasen is the one and 



only who ... focused professionally .. on the integrity of the 
Commission's accounts; and expected to be held accountable 
and liable if proven wrong" 

"With all the control mishaps of the Commission, I do not 
recall any Commission Accountant (other than Miss 
Andreasee) stepping up to the plate saying, 1 am the first 
accountable; what are your questions?' - or being held 
accountable for close to ten years' gross, substandard 
financial reporting." 

He suggested that this could explain the attitude problem of 
the Budget Directorate throughout those years, and why the 
other four Chief Accountants in contrast !o myself, took the 
traditional bureaucratic line of process responsibility only. 
"One even said to me that he '.. does not sign the accounts; he 
only sends the accounts.'" 

That meant that ten years after the Commission first failed to 
get normal audit approval on its accounts and controls, it still 
didn't have a proper accountability system, and that the 
Budget Directorate still only accepted ".. (open-ended) 
process responsibility, with no end product responsibility, 
hence the incentive to get it really right is not there." Z 
Mms, this did much to explain the wretched position in 
which the Commission now found itself. 

But not even this powerful, detailed, considered, well- 
informed critique appeared to do much to take up the time 
or impact on the deliberations of the Disciplinary Board. The 
very next day it issued its decision: dismissal 

Did it bother members of the Board that the two most senior 
officials on the accounting and auditing side of the 
Commission - Muis and myself - had gone within the space 

of two years, and both making very much the same 
criticisms? Apparently not. 

The Disciplinary Board's 14-page report did, however, reveal 



the real essence - the real motivation - the real poison - of 

Lilt *^c3L*3\^ <4,£~£t-i A Ao* L l.l.lvf« JL I. .1.1*5 vlllvl n^*^ 111 Air 15 O b .I..I.|™' L't'JL. y iXtv^-lJlfc5M.A.Iv/ 1.1*5 

of lack of loyalty and discretion. 

On the one hand, the Board proclaimed that, "All 
Commission officials enjoy the right of freedom of 
expression" „ (even here) ". it extends to opinions which 
dissent from or conflict with those held by the employing 

On the other, the Board's report contended that the freedom 
of expression ".. should be exercised by officials with due 
respect to the principles of loyalty and discretion laid down 
in Articles 11 and 12 .. of Staff Regulations ... The official 
must not act in a way which jeopardizes the relationship of 
trust with the institution concerned." 

In other words, in simple language that people, at least in the 
Anglo-Saxon world, can understand, the European 
Commission doesn't really believe in the freedom of 
expression at all. Whatever care 1 had taken in trying to 
register my concern, whatever bureaucratic hoops and 
procedures I had gone through, they would always have been 
able to argue that, in their interpretation of clearly conflicting 
laws, I had breached " the laws of loyalty and discretion" owed 
to my superiors. 

In fact, over several months, my superiors were urging me to 
sign off accounts which, unsupported by proper 
documentation, would have constituted not simply an illegal 
but a criminal act. Yet somehow my refusal to do so was 
showing disloyalty to these people, and my protests at such 
attempted coercion had been "detrimental to the honour of 
the persons" applying this pressure. 

This sounded to me like the double-speak of the old Soviet 
nomenklatura. Catch 22 and the 'Newspeak' of George 
OrwelTs 1984 both also came to my mind. 



This pretty well confirmed not simply the hopelessness of my 
case, but the near- impossibility of anyone effecting real 
change within an undemocratic and essentially lawless 
institution; the European Union. 

The whole process following my removal and suspension - 
but particularly the Disciplinary Board proceedings - 
appeared to me to be a travesty of natural justice. But what 
struck me most of all was the arrogance with which they 
didn't even bother to go through the motions of pretending 
to provide a fair trial. 

The staff regulations provided for an official in my position 
to be heard by the Appointing Authority before the final 
decision was taken. In my case this meant that it had to be a 
hearing in front ot the whole College of Commissioners. I 
was eventually granted this meeting on September 29, 2004 - 
20 days after the Disciplinary Board had issued its statement. 

Having gone through all the previous stages of the 
disciplinary process, without anyone appearing to make the 
least effort to engage with the issues I was trying to raise, I 
wondered whether this meeting with the Commissioners 
would be another meaningless charade. 

Yet I was still determined to face them and make one more 
attempt to impress upon them the negligence with which so 
much of their taxpayers' money was being handled and to 

reiterate, again, urgent solutions. 

For this meeting I had got a friend, Chris Dickson, who was die 
executive counsel of the UK Accountants' Joint Disciplinary 
Scheme, and who had massively wide professional experience, 
to make a statement on my behalf. At his own. expense, he had 
flown over to Brussels the night before, to make sure that he 
was there for the 9am start of the hearing. 

But before the proceedings in the Breydel 1 building got 
under way, Commission lawyer Luc Sanden directed Dickson 
and myself into an anteroom next to the room where the 



hearing would be held. There he attempted to get us to sign a 
confidentiality note, binding us to secrecy on 
the proceedings. 

Dickson was outraged that such a request should even have 
been made without a similar commitment being sought 
from the Commissioners. Further, he pointed out that he 
had no intention of being inhibited from saying whatever he 
thought fit in my defence, either to the public or in any later 
court hearing. 

Knowing that Commissioners and Commission officials had 
felt free to say whatever they wanted about me since my 
departure from office, I had no intention of signing any note 
of confidentiality either. 

After that, we moved into the rather cramped hearing room, 
taking our places at one end of a long oblong table, round 
which sat 21 of the 24 Commissioners. At the far end, 
Michaele Schreyer, sitting between two other female 
Commissioners, struck a pose that might have been seen as 
warm and supportive - but came across to me as simply 
cowed and uncomfortable. 

Also at our end, on our left, was Commission President 
Romano Prodi. Several places away on our right, sat Kinnock, 
whose behavior appeared to have regressed to that of a 
schoolboy. He made exaggerated and dismissive gestures with 
his arms, as if to register his disgust at what I was saying and 
alert his colleagues that the lady in front of them was 
completely mad. 

Other Commissioners occupied themselves with reports or 
paperwork that were clearly nothing at all to do with the 
matter in hand. Some, who had not bothered to turn off their 
mobile phones, would occasionally, when rung, wander off to 
have telephone conversations in the corridor outside. Only 
the Italian Competition Commissioner Mario Monti 
appeared to take an interest in what was being said. 



None even seemed particularly interested when Dickson was 
invited to speak and informed them that he believed that I 
had brought to the job the professional qualities that all good 
accountants have. "The first of these, and the most 
important, is that of independence, both of thought and 
of action " 

He explained that as one who spent much of his time looking 
at corporate disasters involving accountants, particularly 
those who audited financial statements, he found that the 
single biggest contributing factor was the auditor who was 
not prepared to stand up to his or her corporate client. 

"Too often defalcation has gone unpunished because of 
willful blindness, whilst considerable thought, and chargeable 
time, has been expended in devising means for corporate 
clients to circumvent accounting standards." 

He believed that the second crucial quality that I had 
displayed had been the instinct to question - not just how 
the organization in which I worked actually functioned, but 
the financial implications of what was being done, and their 

"You would be surprised by how many bad accountants 1 
come across who either have not made the effort, or who have 
not had the intellectual capacity, to understand the business 
in which they are working, or which they are auditing. This 
problem has been seen not only in sophisticated sectors such 
as those involving complex financial instruments, but also in 
the public sector where, in many western countries, 
governments have sought to move expenditure off their own 
balance sheets and onto those of the private sector. The 
critical analysis by an accountant of what is actually 
happening is crucial." 

The third quality that he felt I had shown was that of 
responsibility for what I did, and an understanding that 
genuine assurance could come only through having separate 



responsibilities for different people. He instanced such key 
procedures as having a small number of authorised cheque 

signatories; two signatures on each cheque; no person to sign 
a cheque which benefits him or her; insistence on original 
documentation rattier ttum pnou.u.opies ot taxes; and asking 
someone independent to review and audit the financial 

Dickson betrayed his amazement at the way I had been 
treated, when he remarked that, "Judging by some of the 

papers I've seen, one might be forgiven for thinking Miss 
Andreasen was being accused of fraud rather than trying to 
prevent it." 

But not even Dickson's lucid statement — like the testimony of 
Muis - appeared to have the slightest effect on those gathered 
there. As the proceedings concluded, Commission President 
Prodi asked if anyone had any questions. To this, the answer 

was a sepulchral silence. 

It was clear that the decision had already been taken and that 
most who had come there had done so mainly to register their 
lack of interest, boredom or contempt. For a group of people, 
ostensibly in charge of 100 billion euros of EU taxpayers* 
money per annum, it was not an edifying performance. 

In about a month - November 2004 - virtually all those 
Commissioners there would be leaving at the end of their five- 
year term, to make way for a new Commission. But before 
gliding off for a well-rewarded retirement, they did manage to 
squeeze in one more act of monumental discourtesy. 

On October 13, 2004, 1 was driving through Barcelona, when 
my mobile rang. It was a journalist asking for my comment 
on the decision to dismiss me from my job at the 
Commission - which had just been announced. I had to tell 
him that I was not aware of this decision. 

Back home, I found an e-mail that had been sent to me 15 
minutes earlier, informing me of the Commission's decision. 



But obviously, no one had made any real effort to make sure 
that 1 knew before my dismissal was made public. Pretty 
much the same as day one. 

As well as the studied contempt they had shown for me 
throughout the proceedings, 1 was staggered by their 
complacency For while this group of highly-paid public 
servants was poring over such hair-splitting issues as to 
whom, as Chief Accountant, 1 should or should not have been 
able to speak, or whether 1 had got permission to speak at 
some conference, huge sums were still leaching away from the 
EU's coffers. 

Just the year before, 2003, the Court of Auditors had 
estimated that 50 per cent of suckling cows which were 
claimed to be grazing in Portugal did not exist. Eighty-nine 
per cent of farms in Luxembourg had submitted claims for 
payments based on an inaccurate acreage which, if believed, 
would have swollen the country way beyond its tiny borders. 

In Greece, one enterprising farmer, who claimed to have lost 
501 sheep to wolves between 2002 and 2004, continued to 
claim subsidies for the 470 sheep he had started off with - 
and without producing any evidence of restocking. 

Even more expensive was the chicanery that had been going 
on at Eurostat - the EU*s statistical branch. In September 
2003, after four separate investigations had been grinding on 
for some six years, this finally emerged into daylight. 

A preliminary report exposed what it described as a "vast 
enterprise of looting," including cases of fictitious accounts 
and controls, inflation of contract prices, slush funds, double 
accounting and serious breaches of the rules governing 
tenders. Taxpayers' money had ostensibly been used to pay for 
perks and freebies, including a riding club, a volleyball team, 
extravagant dinners, and trips to New York and the Bahamas. 

When the scandal first broke I regarded it almost as "help 



from heaven" as it illustrated so graphically and 
comprehensively so many of the warnings that I had been 
attempting to give since my arrival in office as Chief 
Accountant. For the bottom line was that no real 
investigation into Eurostat could be completed because the 
audit trail - all the documentation - either didn't exist or had 
by now disappeared. Further, the whole sordid business 
emphasized the dangers of not knowing exactly who had 
signatory authority on bank accounts. 

Would these revelations at last stun the Commission into a 
realization of the inadequacy of its controls and the depths of 
its problems? Not a bit of it. When a special task force and 
internal auditors produced interim reports in September 
2003, the Commission did its utmost to keep their findings 
under wraps. 

The reports were certainly not to be published. In a shabby 
deal between the Commission and European Parliament - 
citing "legal" reasons - they were to be shown to only a select 
group of MEPs. They were given just five hours to peruse 
them in a sealed room, under the surveillance of security 
guards, and without any access to photocopiers. They were 
banned from taking in mobile phones, cameras, or notepads 
and had to sign a declaration promising not to reveal the 
contents of the reports. 

When Commission President Prodi held a "hearing" on the 
reports' findings in the European Parliament, it was in 
camera, and with the leaders of the Parliament's political 
groups - not with the more "awkward" MEP members of the 
Budgetary Control Committee. 

Many believed that this collusion between Pat Cox, the 
President of the European Parliament, and the Commission, 
to hide the full facts from public scrutiny, to be in itself a 
separate scandal. As the London Times put it, "If the 
Commission has nothing to hide, its secretiveness is 



incomprehensible. If it has, it is inexcusable. Signor Prodi has 

.1.1.1 Ll.joiLJ.CIwi, LJ.J.V" JLjUIX vJ Ly Cdl .1 X Ci.I J.i.Ct 1.I.1.wlJ.Lj 1 Jl\^ l,J,imiv|*L iiv/L L'V' CXXxV^ VYvU- Lvx 

hide the truth." 

But this was an affair with so many separate scandals. As the 
possible dimensions of the losses became clearer, Pedro 
Solbes, the Spanish Commissioner for Economic and 
Monetary Affairs, was invited to resign but refused. He 
claimed to have had no knowledge of Eurostat problems until 
he read about them in the press in May 2003. Yet his own 
office had requested a report on one particularly 
controversial contract almost a year earlier. 

Solbes finally moved on only when a vacancy became 
available for him as Minister of Economy in the new socialist 
government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, which was 
elected in March 2004. 

Eurostat's Director General and two other senior officials - 
who were closely connected with some of the outside firms 
gaining Eurostat contracts, and at the very least should have 
known what was going on - were discreetly transferred to 
other jobs or allowed to slip away into full-pension-rights 
retirement. Not one of them had to face any form of 
disciplinary action. 

Indeed, the only people who appeared to have suffered in this 
sorry affair were those who had been attempting to expose 
what was going on. Dorte Schmidt-Brown, a Danish 

v^V/vJi iUlHlo L W J. J.v/ XXd-\Jr l%_ll.lJ,v- vL JLj U-JL \_Jo Id- L 1.1 J, & 2s\!s\J y vJ-I W IJLw.IL Iv/ly 

properly and in 1999 alerted her managers to contracts which 
seemed highly suspicious. One, she felt, had been awarded 
unfairly to a company run by a former Commission 
employee, which had never carried out much of the work for 
which it had been paid highly-inflated fees. 

An internal audit inquiry later supported her allegations. But 

an interview with the Brussels-based weekly European Voice, 


in October 2003, she revealed that she had suffered a nervous 
breakdown after her disclosures. Eventually, after going on a 
very long sick leave, she secured an invalidity pension from 
the Commission. 

Few people made more efforts to expose the rottenness of 
Eurostat than the German journalist Hans-Martin Tillack. He 
was the one who had rung me on the night of May 23, 2002, 
to inform me that Commissioner Schreyer was at that 
moment writing my letter of dismissal. Presumably, he must 
have had good contacts with someone close to Schreyer's 
office to know that. 

But even the luck of this hard-digging, well-connected 
journalist was to run out. At 6am on March 19, 2004, he was 
woken by six Belgian policemen, who came into his flat, held 
him prisoner for ten hours and then, after ransacking his 
home and office, confiscated two computers, four mobile 
telephones and 16 boxes of documents, archives, personal 
papers and bank statements. He thus lost the notes that he 
had carefully built up over five years. His sources were also 
put at risk. 

Refusing him access to any lawyer for ten hours, police asked 
who his sources were. Tillack insisted that he would never 
reveal his sources. "The police told me I was lucky I wasn't in 
Burma or central Africa, where journalists get the real 

It turned out that this raid had been done at the behest of 
OLAF, on the allegation that Tillack had paid for evidence 
used in articles exposing EU corruption in the German 
magazine Stern. 

At a meeting in the European ParKament building shortly 
after he had been released from custody, Tillack was heckled 
by MEPs angry that he had given " . ammunition to the 
an ti- Europeans" 



Ironically, Tillack never had been against the EU. Describing 

himself as a "pro-European Federalist/' he was simply 
against corruption. 

In an effort to prevent the Belgian police handing his papers 
over to OLAF, Tillack went to the European Court of First 
Instance. He was supported in this action by the International 
Federation of Journalists. The evidence against him had by 
then been clearly shown to have been fabricated. 

But on October 15, 2004, the European Court of First 
Instance threw out his claim - even though that judgement 
was in clear breach of rulings by the European Court of 
Human Rights that a journalist has the right to protect 
his sources. 

Tillack's lawyers had argued that the protection of such 
sources is a cornerstone of a free press, and of genuine 
democracy. But in vain. The ruling effectively gave the 
Commission the power to persecute any journalist who dared 
delve into the murkier corners of the European Union. For 
some it brought back uncomfortable memories of the sort of 
totalitarianism that had darkened Europe in the 1930's 
and 1940's. 

It took Tillack another four years, until 2008, to set his papers 
back from the police - and it was only in November 2007 that 
he got some redress in the Courts. In a landmark decision, the 
European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Belgian 
ponce nan vioiareu nis rigni to tnc irecoom oi expression ano 
ordered the Belgian state to pay him 10,000 euros in moral 
damages and 30,000 euros in costs. 

Ironically - and in one of those bizarre twists that possibly 
only the European Union could pull off - Tillack's award 
worked out at about the same as that given to two other 
European citizens in July, 2008, following a ruling by the 
European Court of First Instance. For the court ruled that 
when the law had eventually turned its gaze on Eurostafs 



former Director General and director, both OLAF and the 
Commission had broken procedural rules in an investigation 
that never came to court. 

OLAF had concluded that both men had committed illegal 
irregularities regarding Eurostat financial procedures, and 
handed files to the Luxembourg and French judicial 

The European Court of First Instance, however, ruled that 
OLAF had "infringed the rights of defence" of the two men by 
"referring to them publicly - including through leaks to the 
press - as guilty of criminal offences." This, said the court, 
breached mandatory principles of the presumption of 
innocence; the obligation of confidentiality in investigations; 
and the principle of sound administration. These "wrongful 
acts" entitled them to damages, from the EU, of 56,000 euros. 

Wasn't that nice? 

With the collapse of my case in front of the Disciplinary 
Board in late 2004 it was to the European Court of First 
Instance that I too was then headed. 




Appealing to the 

European Court of 

First Instance 

In November 2004, still without a lawyer, I launched an 
internal complaint against my dismissal as Chief Accountant. 
This was a prerequisite before taking a case to the European 
Court of First Instance. But as this was a procedure on which 
the Commission would be invited to give a reaction, they 
were usually able to drag the process out for another three 

At about that same time, I received a letter that a hearing had 
finally been set for the cases of my transfer and suspension 
that I had originally introduced at the European Court of 
First Instance in December 2002 and June 2003 respectively. 

I decided to ask the Court to withdraw both cases as the 
appeals had been overtaken by events - given that I had now 
been dismissed. I considered it useless pursuing them as, even 
if I got a positive decision on either of them, it wouldn't affect 
the decision to dismiss me that had already been taken by the 
European Commission. 

But even withdrawing those two cases proved difficult. The 
European Court of First Instance wouldn't accept a letter 



from me but insisted that my former lawyer, make the request 

I asked him to write — but he prevaricated, then got his lawyer 
colleagues who had been involved in the case to try and talk 
me into continuing with the two cases. 

In the end, he agreed to ask for a postponement of the 
hearing. This was not what I wanted, but for the moment it 
was my only way out of an absurd situation as by then he was 
refusing point blank to ask for my cases to be removed from 
the register. A lot of time was lost in this way - time that 
would have been far better spent in my trying to get myself a 
completely new lawyer who was enthusiastic about my cause 
and whom I could trust. 

By this time the new Commission of Jose Manuel Barroso 
was in place and for some months in the autumn of 2004 I 
had some hope that they might review the decision to dismiss 
me and take a more favourable approach to reform of the 
Commissions accounting systems. 

In press interviews, Barroso had spoken of his eagerness to 
sack any Commissioners suspected of poor or fraudulent 
behavior. "There is a need for political leadership, for political 
courage, and I will try to show that leadership." 

He saw himself as a person who upheld the values of open 
societies. "So my most important influences are the liberal 
thinkers of Europe and America, such as de Tocqueville and 
Karl Popper." Great stuff! 

Even better, he appointed Siim Kallas of Estonia as 
Commissioner for Administrative Affairs, Audit, and Anti- 
Fraud - the first time a commissioner's title had formally 
incorporated the word: Anti-Fraud. 

My good and very supportive friend and Danish MEP Jens- 
Peter Bonde even arranged for me to have a private talk with 
Kallas. But the evening before the meeting should have taken 



place in early December 2004, it was cancelled. Kallas wrote 
to Sonde telling him that, on the advice of the Commission's 
legal service, he was to have no contact with me. Indeed, a few 
days later, Kallas announced that my plea for a stay of 
execution of my dismissal had been rejected by the new 

But by then Barroso's credentials as the fearless opponent of 
wrongdoing were beginning to look a bit shaky. For in 
putting together his new Commission, he had proposed the 
appointment of the Frenchman Jacques Barrot, who in 2000 
had been convicted of electoral fraud - after diverting £2 
million of French government money to his political party, 
the Centre of Democratic Socialists. He had been given a 
suspended prison sentence of eight months. 

When his good friend Jacques Chirac, President of France, 
granted Barrot an amnesty this meant that, technically, the 
conviction was expunged. Legally, it had never happened. 
And since the conviction never happened, the French press 
were forbidden even from reporting that it had never 

Barrot made no mention of it to Commission President 
Barroso, nor to MEPs. When the news eventually leaked out 
and MEPs discovered they were about to confirm as 
commissioner a convicted fraudster there was a 
Parliamentary storm. But Barroso continued to affirm his 
"100 per cent" support for his nominee. MEPs swallowed 
their objections and Barrot went on to become first, 
Commissioner for Transport, and a Vice-President of the 
Commission, and then in May 2008 he was appointed to his 
current post of - wait for it - Commissioner for Justice, 
Freedom and Security. 

And these were pretty much the same people who had been 
working themselves into such a lather over whether my 
suspension from the OECD should or should not have been 



included on my CV - despite the fact that the OECD*s 
independent auditors had supported me, despite the fact that 
I had mentioned it to Maison at our first meeting, despite the 
fact that Maison had consulted with at least three different 
people at the OECD before my recruitment, and despite the 
fact that Commissioner Michaele Schreyer had raised the 
issue in her first telephone conversation with me. 

In my case, though the Commission had announced their 
decision to refuse my request for a stay of execution on my 
dismissal, this was not the complete answer to my claim as I 
still had an appeal outstanding with the European Court of 
First Instance, with regard to the dismissal decision itself. 

But in the early months of 2005, 1 was still finding it difficult 
to find a lawyer who was prepared to take on the Commission 
in such a case, and to charge the sort of fees that I could 

In the end, I decided to apply for the Legal Aid which is 
provided by the European Court of Justice Regulation. They, 
however, sent my request for "comments" from the 
Commission who, being the defendant, refused my request 
point blank. In natural justice, the Commission should 
clearly have never been involved. But this was yet another 
classic example of the lack of judicial independence - of the 
essential separation of powers - with which the EU 
institutions work. 

In fact, by that time the whole legal process had become 
even more weighted against those in dispute with the 
Commission. For not only had the Commission started 
sending its own lawyers to fight cases where before this had 
not been deemed necessary, but the plaintiff had become 
liable for the institution's legal expenses when losing a case. 
This was a penalty that did not exist before and which 
would allow only the richest or most foolhardy to bring an 
action in future. 



In finding myself a lawyer, I had to deal with further residual 
problems posed by my relationship with my former lawyer. 
For while it is common practice for a lawyer to hand over all 
documentation to his successor if there is a change of 
counsel, he refused to do this. He would only allow copies to 
be made of certain documents in his office. It was difficult to 
see this other than a ploy to make it extremely difficult for 
another lawyer to take over the case- 
Eventually, in May 2005, I found a young Belgian lawyer, 
Julien Leclere*, based in Luxembourg, who was willing to act 
for me. With him I began preparing an appeal, in French, 
which we finally presented on June 5, 2005. 

On his advice, I concentrated on those aspects of the case that 
the European Court of First Instance were likely to declare 
admissible for judgment. These basically had to do with the 
legality of the procedure which led to my dismissal, and the 
violation of the European Union's own laws and staff 

There were of course plenty of breaches that could be cited. I 
nao. a rigm. ro a lair trial cuaranreeci oy article o or tne 
European Convention on Human Rights. Yet there had been 
a clear lack of independence of members of the Disciplinary 
Board - all of them Commission officials who had been 
managing EU funds without proper controls for years. 

In addition, the College of Commissioners who took the final 
decision on my dismissal included Neil Kinnock and 
Michaele Schreyer who had been my original accusers - and 
thus judge and jury on the case. 

been comprehensively ignored from the start of my time 
in office. 

With regard to my alleged violation of staff regulations, 
Article 21 actually spelt out that while an official had a duty 



to help his superiors, if asked to do something against the law, 
he should raise the issue with his managers and, if still 
instructed to do so, should proceed only if that request were 
made in writing. 

In fact, I had always discussed my concerns on legality with 
Budget Director General Maison and Commissioner 
Schreyer, and also put them in writing - but had never 
received any written response. 

On the contrary, my letters had led only to closed-door 
meetings where I was subjected to verbal pressure to sign off 
accounts, and assume authority for transactions which were 
clearly against the rules, under threat of dismissal. 

Another important aspect of my claim was the way in which 
the Commission had ignored a staff regulation - (Article 
10(96) of Annex IX ) - in considering the proportionality of 
my dismissal For staff regulations state the sanction has to 
take into account the level of responsibility of the official 
concerned and the circumstances in which the alleged 
misbehavior had taken place. 

It was clear, for example, that communicating with the Court 
of Auditors on matters related to EU accounting could not be 
judged as misbehaviour when performed by the 
Commission's Chief Accountant. 

It was also clear that the negative annual reports from the 
European Court of Auditors were an expression of how bad 
things were and also of their level of concern about this. The 
letters they wrote to me after my recruitment simply 
confirmed that they were looking to me for urgent resolution 
of these problems. 

The actual legal procedure was long and tedious, as once I 
introduced the claim, the European Court of First Instance 
sent it for a response to the Commission. Though they had 
two months in which to do so, they asked for an extension 
and ended up taking four. 



What made it worse was that the Commission's response 
went way beyond what many would have considered 
reasonable in length and complexity - and would possibly 

O x / XT / 

serve only to tire and confuse the court. For while my original 

C-LL/ L^wdJ. vUliOiOvvUi VJX •*/ X. iw^w-l-^wO V./X X-w*~CJh,1 ClJL iiv4.J,l.J,v^.iJI LC* ttXXXVJl X.XJJ i^i^jiLK.-hj 

of annexes, they responded with 60 pages of legal arguments 
and 400 pages of annexes. Rather than attempting to restrain 
this legalistic overkill, the Court had simply granted them 
additional time. 

In essence, the Commission insisted that the case had nothing 
to do with the concerns that I had raised about the 
accounting system, but related only to my "behaviour." They 
thus treated themselves to 27 pages of legal argument, in an 
interpretation of the letters that I had written to the senior 
Commissioners, that had little to do with the actual spirit of 
the law. Moreover, they insisted that I had no right to write to 
the Commissioners themselves - despite my role as Chief 

In the end, the two rounds of responses, and written 
procedure alone - with the extensions allowed to the 
Commission - spun the whole process out to March 2006. 

By then it was too late for my case to proceed in the European 
Court of First Instance. For in December 2005 an entirely 
new body called the Civil Service Tribunal came into being. 
This had been created to deal with staff" cases which had 
formerly been handled by the European Court of First 

Given the amount of extra time allowed to the Commission 
to complete all their written procedures - and with their 
failure to meet a deadline of December 15, 2005 - my case 
was transferred to this new Civil Service Tribunal 

This meant that there was another massive delay and it was 
not until November 23, 2006, that we finally appeared before 
the Civil Service Tribunal - eight months after the written 



procedure had been completed, and a good two years after 
my dismissal had been announced by the Commissioners. 

As we filed into court, in the modern Allegro building in 
Luxembourg, it was difficult not to note the contrast between 
their team and ours. They had two lawyers, who swished in, 
dressed in white cravats and black gowns, followed by two 
legal assistants; whereas on our side, we had just one lawyer, 
also in cravat and gown, but who hobbled in (his leg encased 
in plaster from a sports injury), my husband and me. 

As we arranged ourselves at the three sets of desks, facing the 
three judges on their plinth, the Commission lawyers 
proceeded to pile up no fewer than six boxes of legal 
documents. We had just the one fairly slim file. 

Apart from this grand entrance, there was nothing impressive 
about the ensuing legal proceedings. The presiding judge, a 
Belgian called Sean Van Raepenbusch, had worked for some 
part of the Commission's legal services since 1984; the 
reporting judge was a Finn, Heikki Kanninen, and the third 
judge was a Polish woman, Irena Boruta. 

The proceedings were in French but as the three judges spoke 
so little it was difficult to know how well all three really 
comprehended the language. 

The Finnish judge, Kanninen, asked most of the questions - 
starting with the application of the new and old staff rules. 
This clearly caused some unease among the Commissions 
lawyers as my lawyer, Julien Leclere, was able to show that 
they had applied them in a random, indiscriminate way that 
had best suited their case. 

The key point in the hearing came when Kanninen asked 

about my responsibilities as Chief Accountant and my lawyer 
asked the tribunal if I could answer that question myself. At 
this point, the presiding judge, Van Raepenbusch, managed to 
change his expression from one of boredom to annoyance. 



objection to my speaking. Reluctantly, they agreed as long as 
I was not allowed to start telling my full story - a limitation 
to which Van Raepenbusch enthusiastically agreed. "Yes, Miss 
Andresen, (sic) please keep it short/' 

Briefly, I explained my responsibilities on the accounting and 
treasury aspects of the EU budget, which was worth more 
than 100 billion euros at that time. I also pointed out that 
while no job description had ever been given to me, the EU 
Treaties and Financial Regulation were quite explicit on the 
extent of my authority. 

At this point, the Commission lawyers intervened to attempt 
to argue that the Treasury function at the Commission was of 
little significance. But this still seemed an extraordinary view, 
given that the Commission's main reason for existence was to 
pay out subsidies from the funds contributed by its Member 
States. I couldn't believe that the judges could possibly accept 
such a specious argument. 

In fact, it was difficult to work out whether any of the points 
made during the 45-minute hearing had impacted on the 
judges in any way at all. The Polish woman judge opened her 
mouth only once: to ask why the disciplinary procedure had 

taken so long. 

The Commission lawyers argued that this was because I 
".. went on committing so many new offences" — (as if I were 
some naughty girl in a boarding school). But then I didn't 
really feel that the woman judge's question had been 

prompted by any particular warmth or sympathy on 

Indeed, before the hearing had even ended it was difficult to 

avoid the impression that the whole procedure was just 
another empty formality - a ritual that the Commission felt 
that it had to go through so that it could later claim to have 
provided some form of fair trial. 



At its conclusion, I was given to understand that the Tribunal 
would announce their decision within the next six months - 
by April 2007 at the latest. In fact, it was almost a year later - 
on November 8, 2007 - that they finally handed down their 
judgement. In it, they dismissed all nine breaches of the 
Treaties and due process that I had presented against the 

Indeed, it was a judgement that didn't appear to have had any 
recourse to case law and could have been virtually dictated by, 
and for the convenience of, the Commission. All the points 
made about the lack of independence of the Disciplinary 
Board members, and those Commissioners who had laid the 
allegations against me, were simply ignored. 

Further, they appeared to disregard all documentary evidence 

- including that provided by the Commission's own lawyers 

- on my right, as Chief Accountant, to have direct contact 
with the Court of Auditors and European Parliament. For 
example, the advertisement for my job explicitly stated that 
its holder ".. will be also in charge of the contacts with the 

the framework of the (declaration of assurance) and the 
financial statements." 

In other parts of the judgement, it appeared to rely solely on 
the opinion of the Disciplinary Board members who, as 
previously pointed out, were those who had been happy to 
manage funds on a system that was clearly vulnerable 
to abuse. 

So after waiting more than five years after my departure from 
office for a verdict that would recognize that I had acted in 
line with my professional duty, I simply got a confirmation of 
the absolute contempt in which the Commission appeared to 
hold my responsibility as Chief Accountant. 

All in all, it seemed almost unbelievable to me that the judges 
would find it admissible that the Chief Accountant of the 



Commission should be sacked merely for stating clearly what 
the Court of Auditors had said every year for the previous 13 
years. Indeed, within ten days of the Tribunal's judgement 
being made public, the Court of Auditors refused, yet again, 
to sign off the EU's accounts, complaining of "fraud, neglect 
and irregularities." 

(Further, in September 2008, Commissioner Kallas, 
Kinnock's successor in charge of reform, admitted that he did 
not expect the Court of Auditors to give the Commission's 
accounts a clean bill of health until 20201) 

Clearly, 1 will not give up - and I still have the right to 
challenge the Civil Service Tribunal's judgement in the 
European Court of First Instance, 

Before that judgement was made public in November 2007, 
my lawyer had already alerted me that if the case went against 
me, he would not be able to act for me in an appeal as he had 
been recruited to head up the legal department of a private 
company where that sort of work would not be possible. 

He did, however, manage to find me a third lawyer, also based 
in Luxembourg, whom I travelled to see and brief extensively 
on my case. But the next day, after my return to Barcelona, 
there was an e-mail from the third lawyer informing me that 
he would not be able to represent me after all because of" .. a 
conflict of interest." 

I managed to find out what this "conflict of interest" was all 
about. In one of those quite amazing coincidences that 
appear to govern so much of life in the European Union - in 
the less than 24 hours between my last conversation with the 
third lawyer, and my flying home to Spain, he had been 
offered a job by the Commission to train officials in its legal 
service. So there I was, back to square one. 

The helpful Leclere did, however, manage to locate yet 
another lawyer: Benjamin Marthoz. As I had only two 



months in which to appeal, the Civil Service Tribunal's 
judgement, I had to work flat out with him in early 2008 to 
register my appeal with the European Court of First Instance. 

This was where I had started off almost three years earlier - 
before being diverted on to the Civil Service Tribunal - for a 
legal merry-go-round that might best be written up by 
Charles Dickens or Franz Kafka. 

Why do I go on? Partly because I know of the discomfort of 
the Commission when every single one of its decisions is 
challenged in any hearing, court or tribunal and lets even the 
tiniest chink of daylight into a judicial process that is not 
independent - but simply part of the political development 
of the European Union. 

Indeed, the main reason that I continue to fight is that I don't 
want my children - and possibly their children - to live in 
thrall to the EU: a layer of government that, in my view, is not 
only unnecessary, but lawless, corrupt, mistaken, 
undemocratic, bureaucratic, over- regulated and, ultimately, 

Even if the EU does not develop into a full, single political 
entity, what has happened so far is quite bad enough. Its 
parliament - without powers to propose legislation - is 
hardly in any real sense a Parliament. Its executive (the 
Commission) - headed by political appointees - is barely 
accountable to anyone, apart from the very blunt instrument 
of its entire dismissal by Parliament, as happened with the 
Santer Commission in 1999. 

Is it possible for the EU to change, to reform? Having worked 
in it, and seen it from the inside, I see no chance of that. I see 
the institution as not only corrupt but corrupting. For it is 
not just the individual cases of money going to Madame 
Cresson's dentist, or for non-existent olive groves, that is so 



It is the whole lax, insulated, isolated culture in which 
officials work, knowing they can ignore the rules with 
impunity which should give thinking people cause 
for concern. 

During my entire time at the Commission I met. few who 
seemed concerned about this - and even fewer who felt they 
should exercise responsibility and try to change what was 
going on. 

Possibly some expected that 1 too - as the beneficiary of a nice 
salary, nice office, nice allowances, nice perks, and with the 
prospects of a nice pension - would have played the EU game 
of endlessly passing responsibility onto someone else. 

When the very few who do stand up and protest, or even 
quietly inform their managers of what is going on, are so 
consistently and so easily 'trashed,' can any European of 
sound mind actually believe in the possibility of reform? 

The British MEP Daniel Han nan once eloquently lamented 
the state of affairs in which, "We are so blase about Brussels 
fraud that we no longer notice it. It doesn't even make the 
newspapers any more: that's the shocking thing. While the 
auditors are happy to vouch for the money raised by the EU, 
they cannot say where it goes. 

"What makes the EU behave like this? Its employees are not 
inherently wickeder than anyone else. All organisations have 
their share of shysters. The difference is that there is no link 
in Brussels between taxation, representation and 
expenditure. The EU expects bouquets when it spends, but 
not brickbats when it taxes, because its revenue is handed 
over by national treasuries. 

"The truth is that EU fraud is, in the correct sense of the 
word, structural: a product of how the Brussels institutions 
are set up ... and I have (now) reached the view that the 
system is beyond reform. When (Eurocrats) disparage their 



critics, they confuse cause and effect. We are not banging on 
about corruption because we dislike the EU; we dislike the 
EU because we see it for what it is: a racket, whose chief 
function is to look after its own. 

"Finally, let us deal with the assertion that, since much of the 
EU's spending is disbursed by national and regional 
authorities, Brussels ought not to be blamed for their failings. 
It is certainly true that the money trickles down through 
many levels, like champagne through a pyramid of crystal 

"But this is the problem: in such a system, no one has an 
incentive to behave properly. The applicants, knowing the 
cash is there to be claimed, arrange their affairs so as to 
qualify for it. National authorities have no interest in policing 
the system, since it is all EU money. And Eurocrats are happy 
to sign the cheques in the belief that they are buying 

Hannan went on to define what he sees as ".. the worst aspect 
of Euro-corruption. In my own constituency, I have seen how 
the people most directly ruled by EU law - fishermen - have 
been forced to alter their behaviour to comply with the 
Brussels way of doing things. 

"I have seen honest men turned, against their will, into liars 
and cheats by the Common Fisheries Policy. 

"The disease is not confined to Brussels: it is contaminating 
our own body politic, carried by cash handouts through our 
veins and arteries. After years of looking vainly for a cure, it is 
time to consider amputation." 

Will this little book help to bring about early reform of the 
EU and its accounting practices? I fear not; turkeys do not 
vote for Christmas. 

But I hope that it lays bare what really goes on in Brussels. I 
also hope that it will make more people aware of what really 



goes on behind the gloss and the tinsel and the avalanche of 
publications telling us how wonderful and indispensable the 
EU is. There are already those who believe that the whole 
thing will collapse from within, under its own incompetence 
and corruption. I do not share this view. Only if enough 
ordinary citizens in Europe become sufficiently angry with 
their Governments for going along with it all, might change 
come about. 

Of course European nations should work together to meet 
such challenges as terrorism, border control, financial crises 
and climate change; but this can be done by 
intergovernmental collaboration between consenting 
democracies. Democracy is the guarantor of peace, not 
unaccountable bureaucracy. 

Europeans do not need to go on surrendering their 
sovereignty, their integrity and their future to a corrupt and 
incompetent mega-state. When will they see this? 




I have no doubt that the European Commission will dismiss 
my story by claiming that "it was all a long time ago", and that 
its accounting and control systems have since been made 
altogether wonderful. However, its failure to get a clean bill of 
health from the European Court of Auditors for the last 14 
years is proof that nothing much has, in fact, changed and 
that the European Union remains an open till waiting to be 
robbed. The only real change since my dismissal is that the 
Commission has shifted the blame onto the Member States. 
That's where the billions go walkabout; it's entirely their fault 
now (which isn't true, of course). 

In one thing they have succeeded. No employee has dared to 
'blow the whistle' since they got rid of me. I suppose they 
have all seen what has happened to me and they know that I 
couldn't get another job at my professional level anywhere in 
Europe; no other employee has been prepared to irritate the 
beast in Brussels. 

But I have not given up my fight. I did not give up a powerful 
and well paid job just to see this bureaucracy, the integrity of 
which I experienced from the inside, continue to roll over us. 
Back in 2002 I raised my concerns with Mrs. Diemut Theato, 
the Chairwoman of the Budgetary Control Committee of the 
European Parliament. In real life she was a translator. I had 
the incredible experience of trying to make Mrs. Theato 
understand what the problems were in the management of 
the EU's budget. She happily acknowledged to me that she 



had no knowledge of finance or accounting, and therefore 
couldn't understand what I was talking about. Imagine my 
frustration! How could this worthy lady, with her 
background, be in a position to challenge what the European 
Commission was telling us about its accounting and control 
systems? How could she exercise any influence over European 
taxpayers' money if she had not the faintest idea about the 

With this experience in mind I decided to stand in the South 
East Region of the UK as a UK Independence Party candidate 
for the European Parliament in the June 2009 elections, and 
am very grateful to have been elected. With this new 
responsibility I therefore propose to join the Budgetary 
Control Committee and challenge each and every one of the 
numbers in the EU accounts. In effect, my mission is now to 
go to Brussels and find out how the British people's money is 
being spent, and then come back to tell them the truth, 

I know where the bodies are buried. 

Marta Andreasen, MEP 
July 2009 


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