The ECA was established to audit the EU's finances. The starting point for its audit work is the EU's budget and policies, primarily in areas relating to growth and jobs, added value, public finances, the environment and climate action. The ECA audits the budget in terms of both revenue and spending.
Improving public accountability in the EU
The results of the ECA’s work are used by the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council and the Member States to oversee the management of the EU budget and, where necessary, make improvements. The ECA’s work provides an important basis for the annual discharge, a procedure in which the Parliament decides, on the basis of a recommendation from the Council, whether the Commission has satisfactorily implemented the previous year’s budget.
Providing reports for EU policymakers and citizens
The ECA’s reports and opinions add value to the EU’s financial management by contributing to developments within the Union and bringing it closer to European citizens. The ECA’s aim is to produce high-quality audit reports which are clear, relevant and timely, which are based on sound criteria and robust evidence, and which address the concerns of all interested parties and are therefore viewed as important and authoritative documents. The ECA’s publications include annual reports, specific annual reports, special reports, opinions and position papers.
Cooperating closely with other supreme audit institutions
Up to 80% of the EU’s budget management is shared with the Member States. Member States cooperate with the Commission in setting up supervisory and internal control systems to ensure that EU funds are spent properly and in accordance with the rules. Audit therefore has both an EU and a national dimension. In addition to the work done by the ECA, many SAIs in the Member States audit the European funds that are managed and spent by their national administrations.
Standard-setting for the audit of public finances
The ECA is committed to being at the forefront of developments in public financial management and audit. It plays an important part in the development and implementation of international standards (e.g. by INTOSAI).
The ECA has been encouraged by its results over the years. External experts rate the quality of ECA reports as good, and the main institutional stakeholders find them useful. There is a consistently high level of acceptance by the Commission of the ECA’s recommendations, and the follow-up reports highlight their positive impact.
The ECA looks forward, in the coming years, to the challenge of helping to improve the EU’s accountability towards citizens for the public funds which it provides to meet its objectives.