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A tale of an EU whistleblower

I believe this is not the last story of this sort we will see coming out of Brussels:

[Robert McCoy] has worked for the European Union for more than 30 years. His friends regard him as an upright and loyal bureaucrat, keen to uphold the EU’s name against its critics, whether in Brussels or back home in Britain.

Yet Robert McCoy must steel himself before he walks the corridors of his own EU institution. If he is lucky, senior colleagues at the glass and concrete headquarters of the Committee of the Regions – a Brussels talking-shop for local government representatives, set up under the Maastricht Treaty – merely ignore him, turning their heads ostentatiously as he passes.

If not, he may be on the receiving end of abuse. “Gestapo! Gestapo!” angry fellow workers once taunted him. One manager spat on the floor as he walked by, friends say.

As the Telegraph reports Mr McCoy’s offence – as it was apparently regarded by some EU staff and politicians – was to stumble upon, investigate and then seek to correct a series of financial irregularities within the Committee of the Regions (CoR), whose annual budget is €38 million (£27 million).

Last week, Romano Prodi and Neil Kinnock insisted that since EU commissioners were ignorant of Eurostat’s problems until this year, they could not be held responsible for what happened earlier. The frauds, and the culture that permitted them, were a one-off and had long since ended, Mr Prodi assured MEPs during a tense closed-door meeting in Strasbourg on Thursday.

In a devastating letter to a senior MEP, seen by The Telegraph, Mr McCoy details his three-year campaign to stamp out suspected fraud within the CoR, and his vain attempts to persuade senior managers to summon outside expertise to investigate the problems.

His inside account, and documents obtained by members of the European Parliament’s budgetary control committee, reveals an approach by some EU officials which helps explain how at least ?3 million (£2 million) could disappear from the coffers of an organisation like Eurostat without anyone noticing – or complaining.

I felt that I had repeatedly hit a brick wall in my efforts to do my job. I have nowhere else to turn, having exhausted all administrative and political avenues available to me within the CoR.

After Mr McCoy sought the official attendance sheets to make a spot check on the signatures, the Secretary General angrily rebuked him. “Robert, I am very displeased with this affair,” Mr Falcone wrote in an e-mail which has circulated among MEPs. “The Financial Controller is not the police.” One can only speculate why the officials in charge reacted with hostility rather than reward his for a job well done. McCoy comments:

We now know that there have been huge problems at Eurostat over many years, caused by the same kind of culture that I have encountered at the CoR. Who knows how many other EU institutions are similarly affected?

A rather late and rude awakening for Mr McCoy. The rot goes to the heart of the institution, there can be no perestroika.

Corruption harmonized on a Europe-wide level

16 comments to A tale of an EU whistleblower

  • Jacob

    It is good to highlight the corruption in the EU bureaucracy. It’s only that I’m not sure it is worse than the corruption within national governments and bureaucracies. Governments are like that, wether the hated EU or your national government.

  • Ted Schuerzinger


    You make an apt point that national governments can be just as corrupt as the EU, but I think it’s very important to point out the corruption of the EU, and especially in this case the allegations that fellow workers yelled “Gestapo! Gestapo!” at Mr. McCoy.

    Remember that Silvio Berlusconi caused a major row when in response to some name-calling by German MEPs, he said one of them could play the part of a Nazi death camp guard in a movie. Apparently, it’s OK for EUcrats to engage in that sort of vile name-calling, becuase they’re of the correct political persuasion. But Berlusconi can’t use the same arguments, because he’s wicked due to his thinking the wrong things.

    (Frankly, I think Berlusconi shouldn’t have engaged in name calling, but just pointed out the EU’s rampant corruption then and there. But that’s another story.)

  • Jacob: Whilst it is no secret I am not a fan of the British state, there is no way such endemic corruption could survive in the UK on such a scale and for so long. No way. In the EU it goes all the way to the top.

  • G Cooper

    I read the Telegraph’s story with a sense of weary resignation (not helped by having spent a pleasant half hour this afternoon chatting with two UKIP activists).

    While I was with these dangerous terrorists (actually, two charming ladies, in late middle age) I had veered off into a personal rage against Neil ‘Windbag’ Kinnock, and I feel all the more justified for having done so, having now read the Telegraph’s piece.

    This odious, mendacious fool was put in office precisely to root-out this sort of corruption and appears to have done little, if anything, to stop it. Rather he and his equally loathsome, Stalinist wife, appear to have got their snouts firmly wedged in the Euro-trough.

    One of many things on which my UKIP friends and I agreed (and hence my weariness) is the apparent impossibility of making our fellow Britons even remotely interested in the fact that we are being robbed blind by a pack of fascist gangsters.

    And yes – I am quite deliberately snatching that word ‘fascist’ back from the Left (like Kinnock), who so loved bandying it around in the 1970s. The difference is that my use of it – particularly when applied to an organisation which accuses whistle-blowers of ‘asking inappropriate questions’ – is entirely justified.

  • Jacob

    You are correct. In the anglosphere gvnm’t bureacrats have more sophisticated methods. Corporate pork, subsidies, tariffs, campaign contributions, job rotation, etc. etc. Corruption at the EU is more in line with traditional, continental methods.

  • Philip Chaston

    There is a similarity between the unwillingness of European Commissioners to take responsibility for their own departments and the breakdown of the principal of ministerial responsibility in Britain’s parliamentary democracy. One can view the same reaction in British ministers since the 80s. Is it something that Kinnock exported, apart from himself?

  • Verity

    I saw the vile Kinnock on a TV chat show once and my goodness, the rough edges had been buffed away. Every part of him glowed with care. His skin glowed. His hair, on which someone had used as much mousse, spray and ingenuity as Dominique de Villepin, but not to such good effect, of course, glowed. His shirt collar and cuffs glowed. His suit was cut, stitched and pressed to a farethewell. Clearly, having an income of quarter of a million pounds a year (including the sackful of swag which the vile Glenys heaves home) suits him just fine. For someone who couldn’t win an election to dogcatcher, despite years of trying, he’s done quite nicely in the faceless, monolithic, statist, corrupt corridors of Brussels. The Kinnocks’ very presence at the centre of the EU boondoggle should tell every British person all they need to know about the European Union.

  • The Wobbly Guy


    Hmmm… interesting…

  • Sandy P.

    In Chicago, we call them “ghost-payrollers.” And they usually seem to be family and friends, go figure.

    We’re very experienced in that regard.

  • Tregagle

    I think I agree with everyone! Kinnock was warned by at least three whistle blowers all of whom he tried to discredit and ruin. He was appointed, I thought, specifically to rid the EU of corruption after Santer and Commissioners resigned because of it. So how is it possible for him to survive unless the corruption is even worse than everyone thought possible.
    Connoly, Andreasson and Mc Coy ought to be given all the power and help necessary to clean up Brussels, including the removal of Prodi and the Welsh windbag.

  • “Last week, Romano Prodi and Neil Kinnock insisted that since EU commissioners were ignorant of Eurostat’s problems until this year, they could not be held responsible for what happened earlier. ”

    FYI in next months Sprout (Unseemly plug for own magazine) there is evidence that Kinnock lied, that is hard documentary ‘I lied’ evidence from Kinnock, when he spoke to Parliament denying knowledge of Eurostat. Prodi has been protected by his chief of staff a Irishman named O’Sullivan who lied to Parliament on his behalf…

    Damn, I could go on but my anger just seeps away into despair.

  • Dishman

    “The Financial Controller is not the police.”
    I think that statement sums it all up.
    The Financial Controller’s job is to be the police as far as spending goes. Anyone who said that in a US company would be fired for cause.

  • Eamon Brennan

    “The Financial Controller is not the police.”

    Good point. Perhaps they should call the police.


  • McCoy should have filed charges against the guy who spat on the floor — I bet there’s some Euro-hygiene regulation which would cover it…

    It’s no good defending against bullshit like this: one has to go on the offense.

    I know a shooting-range owner outside Chicago who had to jump through an unimaginable number of hurdles (economic, ecological and safety) before he could open his indoor range inside the town. He complied, seeting all the while, until all the permits were granted, all bureaucracy appeased, and the range opened.

    Then he filed suit against the local police department, claiming that their own practice range was not in compliance with almost all the regulations. The judge agreed, ordered the police range closed, and now the local police have to do their mandatory practice at the private range, which provides the range owner with a healthy income stream.

    And no, he doesn’t give them a discount, either — they pay full retail.

    That’s how you fight these bastards — with their own weapons.

  • Sandy P.

    cose turchi has something up on Prodi.

    “Applauses to French Libération for writing what no one dares to write in Italy – no one but the outpost of the alleged vast right wing conspiracy controlling the media, ie. one paper, il Giornale, who gets a compliment from a newspaper of the French left-wing. Chapeau, comrades!

    Prodi without wonders

    by Jean QUATREMER

    Saturday, 27 September 2003…”