I spoke to Richard Ashworth MEP our ECR expert on this area who stated:
“There are a number of myths that surround the European Union and you have picked up on one. It is in fact not true that the accounts have never been signed off by the European Court of Auditors. According to the auditors themselves, the accounts have been signed off “every financial year since 2007” (Source: http://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/FAQ-AR2014/FAQ-AR2014-EN.pdf).
You can find a Q&A on this subject on Mr. Ashworth’s website here: http://www.richardashworth.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2016-01-20-European-Court-of-Auditors-Annual-Report-QA.pdf.
The report by the court of auditors does point to some failings in the system and these issues need to be addressed. Principally, there need to be better controls by the Commission and Member States. Moreover, there needs to be simplification of complicated rules to reduce the number of errors.
Nevertheless, it is important to put this into context with the system in the UK. Sir John Bourn, former head of the UK’s National Audit Office explained that if the UK had the same system as Europe then it would fail on similar grounds. You can read his explanation in full here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeucom/270/6060607.htm”