The ECA checks spending on policies and programmes in all areas of the EU budget. We also audit the European Development Funds, which are financed directly by the Member States.
The annual EU budget is spent on a wide range of areas. Payments are made to support activities as varied as farming and the development of rural and urban areas, transport infrastructure projects, research, training for the unemployed, support for countries wishing to join the EU, or aid for neighbouring and developing countries.
The EDFs provide European Union assistance for development cooperation to the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and overseas countries and territories (OCTs). EDF spending and cooperation instruments aim to overcome poverty, and to promote sustainable development and the integration of ACP countries and OCTs into the world economy.
Smart and Inclusive Growth
• Competitiveness for growth and jobs
Spending in this area is aimed at improving research and innovation, enhancing education systems and promoting employment, ensuring a digital single market, promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, modernising the transport sector and improving the business environment, especially for small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs).
The majority of spending is in the form of grants to private and public beneficiaries, with the Commission reimbursing costs declared by beneficiaries in project cost statements.
• Economic, social and territorial cohesion
Regional and urban policy accounts for about 80% of total spending in this area and is mostly implemented through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF). It aims to help the least developed EU countries and regions to catch up with the rest by making all regions more competitive and developing inter-regional cooperation. The funds are used to finance investments in infrastructure, the creation or preservation of jobs, regional economic development initiatives and activities to support small and medium enterprises.
Employment and social affairs policy covers the remaining 20% of spending in this area. It is mainly financed by the European Social Fund (ESF). Expenditure includes investments in human capital through training and other employment measures.
Expenditure is managed jointly with the Member States and involves co-financing projects within approved spending programmes.
Sustainable Growth: Natural Resources
This spending area covers the common agricultural policy (CAP), the common fisheries policy (CFP), rural development and environmental measures.
The CAP aims to increase agricultural productivity, ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community, stabilise markets, guarantee the availability of supplies and ensure that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices. It is implemented through two funds: the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF), which fully finances EU direct aid and market measures, and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which co finances rural development programmes together with the Member States. CAP spending is managed jointly with the Member States. Expenditure under both funds is channelled through some 80 paying agencies that are responsible for checking the eligibility of aid applications and making payments to beneficiaries.
The CFP pursues similar objectives to the CAP and the main tool for implementation is the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EFF). The fund is managed by the Commission and the Member States under shared management.
The EU’s environmental policy aims to protect and improve environmental quality and thus people’s lives, and to ensure that natural resources are used rationally. Expenditure in this area is managed centrally by the Commission. The programme for the environment (LIFE) is the most important programme. It co finances projects related to nature, biodiversity, environmental policy and governance, information and communication.
Security and citizenship
The main components of this spending area are justice and home affairs, border protection, immigration and asylum policy, public health, consumer protection, culture, youth, information and dialogue with citizens.
This spending area covers expenditure in the fields of foreign policy, support for EU candidate and potential candidate countries, as well as development assistance and humanitarian aid for developing and neighbouring countries (with the exception of the European Development Funds).
Expenditure is implemented in more than 150 countries, using a broad range of cooperation instruments and delivery methods. Spending is implemented directly by Commission directorates‑general, either from their headquarters in Brussels, by EU delegations in recipient countries, or jointly with international organisations.
This spending area covers the administrative expenditure of EU institutions and other bodies. Spending on human resources (salaries, allowances and pensions), accounts for about 60% of the total. Expenditure on buildings, equipment, energy, communications and information technology covers the remainder. The results of our audits of the EU agencies and other decentralised bodies are reported in specific annual reports, which are published separately, together with a summary of the results.
These are temporary payments designed to ensure that Croatia, which joined the EU in July 2013, does not contribute more to the EU budget than it receives from it in the first year following accession.