Today, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) published its annual activity report for 2021. The report gives an overview of the ECA’s work in 2021, and provides information about the institution’s management, its staff and its finances, describing how the ECA’s 900 employees continued to provide independent, objective reports on key issues for the future of the EU. With Member States currently facing many unexpected challenges, the ECA plays a crucial role by highlighting what aspects of EU actions work well, drawing attention to aspects that could be improved, and recommending substantive changes to allow the EU to reach its full potential. This work allows the EU to build on its previous efforts to improve its financial management, and to ensure that EU spending delivers results.
In 2021, the EU auditors continued to work within the confines of COVID-19-related travel and public health restrictions. Their ability to carry out on-the-spot audits was still significantly restricted. But they adjusted to the new situation, made rapid changes to their working methods, and quickly learned new tools to be able to provide an effective public audit service in the EU.
As a result, the EU auditors reached timely and meaningful conclusions and made specific and relevant recommendations. The ECA issued 55 publications in 2021, including 32 special reports and reviews addressing many of the challenges the EU is facing across its different spending and policy areas. The auditors dealt with issues including the common agricultural policy (CAP) and climate change, the polluter-pays principle, electromobility, the EU’s Frontex border protection agency, EU cooperation with non-EU countries in returning irregular migrants, the exchange of tax information, sustainable finance, money laundering, and disinformation. They also issued two COVID-19-related reports: a review of the EU’s public health response and an audit of air passenger rights during the pandemic.
The ECA publications – audit reports, reviews and opinions – are an essential element of the EU’s accountability chain. They help the European Parliament and the Council to monitor and scrutinise the achievement of the EU’s policy objectives, and to hold to account those responsible for managing the EU budget, principally the European Commission.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet behind us, another terrible crisis has suddenly hit the EU’s borders,” said ECA President Klaus-Heiner Lehne. “These are dark times for Europe. Now more than ever, the EU needs to show unity and to deliver. The mission of the European Court of Auditors is more crucial now than it has ever been: with that in mind, we will continue our efforts to assess the added value of EU action.”