We return to our favourite case of the moment: The Prince of Audits. As you may recall, on August 26 Kassandra asked from the Secretariat General (SG) of the Commission a 5-line document with its attachments, concerning the cancellation of two audits, which cost the budget over € 15 million (cancelled recovery).
As the SG selflessly revealed, they referred the matter to the Competent Directorate General, DG Research and Innovation (DG RTD).
Subsequently, DG RTD, informed Kassandra that it wanted an extension of 15 days as it is provided for by Regulation (EC) 1049/2001 which terminates on Wednesday, October 7.
However, a couple of days ago, Kassandra received yet another letter form the Legal Service, referring to my request and informing me that the Legal Service, needs a further 15 days to reply, making reference to Regulation 1049, and set as deadline October 16.
What is this? Confusion, panic, omerta or what? Certainly the Legal Service is also involved in the mess. Kassandra learns from friends in the European Parliament that the contract signed a few years ago for this project was not in conformity with Community law therefore, the Legal Service claimed that it would be somehow awkward to ask for recovery based on a contract not in line with Community law.
What the Legal Service should have done at the time would be to send the case to OLAF and to the Belgian Prosecutor to look for possible penal violations.
Perhaps one of the attachments of the 5-line e-mail, which we have requested, is the Opinion of the Legal Service documenting the abnormality. By the way, Regulation (EC) 1049/2001 gives the services the prerogative to ask for a 15-day extension in extraordinary cases (not as a rule) and only once. Indeed, if the Commission is sending requests from one DG to the other and each one asks for its own 15-day extension, then the Regulation will be abolished.