LACK of transparency and accountability at the European Commission are among major causes of concern for a Woking-based Member of the European Parliament.
With the elections pending in May, former UKIP and now Conservative MEP Marta Andreasen is keen to enlighten the public on what goes on behind European Union doors − and to implement reforms.
She says the decisions made in Brussels really do affect us all, and that the lax controls currently in place, which involve billions of UK pounds, desperately need to be tackled.
She said: “I have made it my mission to protect taxpayers’ money from waste.”
Marta also brings into question the EU’s legislative system. She pointed out: “They have too much power; more than 75 per cent of laws affecting UK citizens’ lives come from the Commission. That is too much and I want to defend our own, relevant laws.
“I want to leave the EU, but believe that since this has been a divisive issue for so long, it is time for people to get a say.”
She believes that whether or not you think Britain should stay in the EU, it would be wise to use your vote for an MEP who wants to make a difference.
Marta, whose office is in Chertsey Road, has been working in the Belgian capital since 2002. She is hoping the Prime Minister will call a referendum, as she believes that a proposed UK withdrawal from the EU is probably the only thing that will incline the Commission to make changes.
She added: “I am committed to Britain withdrawing, but only the Tories can deliver a referendum.” Marta was Chief Accountant at the Commission in 2002, but was shocked at the reluctance in Brussels to improve controls.
She explained: “When I was asked to sign off accounts and payments that I knew could not be verified properly, I refused.
“Enormous pressure was exerted on me, but I stood my ground, as I was not prepared to put my 25 years of integrity at risk. I was then accused of ‘disloyalty’ and sacked.”
Marta’s story grabbed a lot of media headlines, particularly in the UK but, she added: “Far from giving up, I decided to continue the fight against EU waste and fraud.
“I met a lot of politicians and professionals who expressed concerns. It is not a case of a few rotten apples in the barrel, it’s the barrel that is the problem. There are no proper checks.
“So it ends up that billions in funding cannot be properly accounted for, or that billions supposedly sent to support human rights have disappeared. I uncover such stories almost on a weekly basis. The problem is that once the Commission have handed out money, as far as they’re concerned, any discrepancies are not their responsibility.
“If a similar sized private company lost around five per cent of its budget with no explanation, heads would roll. But this is a public institution, into which we are paying our taxes; the least we can expect is some responsibility and, above all, accountability. These are huge figures we are talking about.”
So why did Marta defect from UKIP to the Conservatives? She said: “In 2007 I was approached by UKIP to be party Treasurer, and in 2009 I was elected as an MEP. But it became apparent that to get change you need to roll up your sleeves. This just didn’t happen in UKIP; I felt very much alone fighting my corner. It was all talk and no action. Nothing.”
“In parallel, the Tories were getting results. David Cameron secured the first cut to the EU budget in more than 10 years − I’d been calling for a reduction for years. And when he promised a referendum in 2017, it was a game changer for me. I knew UKIP could never deliver a budget cut, much less a referendum.”
Of the 73 UK MEPs, 10 represent the South East. If re-elected on May 22, Marta said: “While first and foremost I want to keep helping people in the South East, it is important to note that 75 per cent of the laws that affect this country come from Brussels, and it is there that we MEPs need to fight in the best interest of our constituents.
“We can amend legislation and vote against it; we can always make an impact. I will keep campaigning for EU withdrawal but there is much groundwork to do before we get there in 2017.”