HC Deb 25 June 1997 vol 296 c535W
Mr. Timms

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals he has for improving co-operation between the European Commission and Government Departments in the United Kingdom in the control of expenditure by United Kingdom Government Departments which is financed by the EC Budget. [5655]

Mrs. Liddell

I am very pleased to announce that agreement has been reached between the European Commission and the Government on the signature of Protocols between the Financial Controller of the European Commission and the Accounting Officer and Heads of Internal Audit of UK Departments with responsibilities for Structural Fund expenditure. These Protocols provide for an enhanced level of co-operation between the Commission's Financial Control and the Internal Audit Units of UK Departments in the control and auditing of Structural Fund expenditure. This will lead to a better use of the resources available for this purpose, agreement on common standards, and the exchange of relevant reports, without prejudicing the independence or statutory responsibilities of either party.

This is an important contribution to the improvement of the Community's financial management systems within the context of the Commission's strategy for improving and modernising financial management, Sound and Efficiency Management (SEM) 2000, which the Government strongly supports. Similar Protocols have already been agreed between the Commission and a number of other Member States, and I understand that discussions are under way between the Commission and further Member States.