The Court of Auditors' annual report covering 1999 failed to issue a Statement of Assurance for payments but welcomed the operations involving own resources and administrative spending, plus the bulk of commitments. Due to be adopted during the forthcoming Finance Council, the Ministers' Recommendation is expected to applaud the Commission for pressing on with its reform of the financial procedures. The Council is also likely to urge the Commission to step up and improve its administrative co-operation with the Member States. With this in mind, the Council is pressing for straightforward crystal-clear legislation backed up with anti-fraud measures (worked out with OLAF, the EU's Anti-Fraud Office) and seconded with clear indications about the implementation procedure. The Ministers are also likely to acknowledge their delay in applying the requisite legislation. The Recommendation may be expected to call on the Member States to amplify the procedures for ratifying a convention on the protection of the Community's financial interests, and another one on corruption involving the Community Budget.Common Agricultural Policy.The draft Council Recommendation calls for transparency in the implementation of farm spending. In the case of accompanying measures and rural development, the Council stresses its commitment to new rules where penalties are applied to deal with yawning gaps between forecasts and actual spending. It urges the Commission to keep up the pace, and this applies in particular to the creation of a data base to keep track of individual recipients. The Council wants the Court to act in the future to be more specific about the remedial action the Commission and the Member States should take. It re-emphasises the need for the Commission to press on streamlining Community rules, set clear criteria for awarding Community support and guarantee a even-handed application of the support, thereby making sure the sort of situation the Court has pinpointed does not reoccur. The Council Recommendation is not expected to refer to the Flechard case nor to the Spanish flax fraud, in which the European Parliament has taken a keen...

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