|Vol 7, No.12, 22.3.01, p4
MEPS have accused the European Court of Justice of hypocrisy after it broke the rules in order to expand its Luxembourg premises.
Euro MPs say the court's decision to move into buildings before it sorted out the paperwork undermines its position as the EU's supreme legal body. The foul-up has resulted in a dispute with authorities in the Grand Duchy over the cost of the lease, which is still being debated more than 10 years after the first building was opened.
"The Court of Justice has to set the example as regards the respect of law," said MEP Lousewies van der Laan, the rapporteur on budget discharge for the Court.
Her comments come in the wake of an auditors' report on the events surrounding the Court of Justice's occupation of three new annexes built to help it deal with an increasing staff and case load.
Auditors found that the institution's staff moved into the Palais building, the Thomas More building and the court's Annex C in the period between 1989 and 1994 without signing any written lease agreements.
"The Court of Justice put itself into a situation from which it was unable to extricate itself," said Court of Auditors President Jan Karlsson in his report. "Without first agreeing a lease it went ahead with gradually occupying buildings for which it did not know the exact cost and where the financial conditions concerning its tenancy had been neither defined nor approved beforehand by the parties concerned."
MEPs say the Luxembourg authorities also must accept part of the blame, accusing them of demanding 'excessive rents' for the buildings and refusing to produce a lease.
"The Luxembourg authorities failed to display the degree of constructive cooperation legitimately to be expected from a host country," said van der Laan.
The court has this year brought in auditing firm KPMG to draw up a final 'statement of accounts'. KPMG will also be tasked with working out whether the dispute has cost the taxpayer millions of euros.
The Court of Justice says an increase in its case load left it with no choice but to move into the buildings as soon as they were built, despite the fact the leases had not been signed.
MEPs have accused the European Court of Justice of hypocrisy after it broke the rules in order to expand its Luxembourg premises.
|Politics and International Relations