The ECA operates as a collegiate body of 27 Members, one from each Member State. The Members are appointed by the Council after consultation with the European Parliament for a renewable term of six years. Members elect one of their number as President for a renewable term of three years.
Organisation – chambers and committees
The ECA is organised into five chambers, to which Members and audit staff are assigned. The Members of each chamber elect a Dean for a renewable term of two years.
Each chamber has two areas of responsibility:
to adopt special reports, specific annual reports and opinions; and
to prepare the annual reports on the EU budget and the European Development Funds, for adoption by the Court as a whole.
The full Court of 27 Members meets around twice a month to discuss and adopt documents such as the ECA's main annual publications - the reports on the EU general budget and the European Development Funds.
The Audit Quality Control Committee is made up of the Member for Audit Quality Control and one Member from each Chamber. It deals with the ECA’s audit policies, standards and methodology, audit support and development and audit quality control.
The Administrative Committee is made up of the Deans of the chambers, the ECA President, the Member for Institutional Relations and the Member for Audit Quality Control. It deals with all administrative matters and decisions on issues related to communication and strategy.
President – first among equals
The European Court of Auditors is headed by a President, who is elected for a renewable term of three years by the Members from among their number. His or her role is that of primus inter pares – first amongst equals. He or she chairs ECA meetings and ensures that ECA decisions are implemented and that the institution and its activities are soundly managed.
On 13 September 2016, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, the German Member, was elected as the ECA’s 11th President. His mandate was renewed on 12 September 2019.
The Members - a college
The Members of the ECA are appointed by the Council, after consultation with the European Parliament, following nomination by their respective Member States. Members are appointed for a renewable term of six years. They are required to perform their duties in complete independence and in the general interest of the European Union.
As well as being part of the Court, Members are assigned to one of the five chambers. They adopt audit reports and opinions and take decisions on broader strategic and administrative issues. Each Member also has responsibility for specific tasks, primarily in the field of audit. The audit work leading to a report is carried out by the ECA’s audit staff under the coordination of a Member, who is assisted by a private office. The Member presents the report to the chamber and/or full Court for adoption, and then to the European Parliament, Council and other relevant stakeholders, as well as the media.
The Secretary-General is the most senior member of ECA staff and is appointed to this role by the Court for a renewable period of six years. He or she is responsible for staff management and administration in the fields of human resources, finance and general services, information, workplace and innovation, translation, language services and publication.
The Secretary-General is also responsible for the Court secretariat.
The ECA's staff - our main asset
The ECA has around 900 staff in audit, translation and administration. The audit staff have a broad range of professional backgrounds and experience in both the public and private sectors, including accountancy, financial management, internal and external audit, law and economics.
The ECA's translators for 23 official EU languages ensure that our publications can be read by EU citizens in the language of their choosing. Like all other EU institutions, the ECA employs nationals of all the Member States. As EU civil servants, ECA staff are subject to the EU’s Staff Regulations.
The ECA is divided into ten audit and administrative directorates which in turn form flexible task-based teams in order to make best use of resources and develop appropriate expertise.
The ECA has an active equal opportunities policy and employs almost equal numbers of men and women.
Since 1977, the ECA is proud to have built up a dedicated, professional and experienced workforce devoted to protecting the financial interests of EU citizens.
Reform of the ECA: converting it to a task-based organisation
On the basis of the ECA strategy for 2013-2017, and in response to observations made by the European Parliament on the ECA's future role and the 2014 international peer review of its performance audit, the ECA decided to reform its internal organisation. The reform was based on four principles:
- Agile response to a rapidly changing environment
- Directing resources flexibly to priority audit tasks
- Delivering timely products
- Better communicating our role and work
The reform was implemented with effect from 1 January 2016.