Summary of the 2014 Statement of Assurance
The European Court of Auditors gives a clean opinion on the reliability of the 2014 accounts of the European Union.
Revenue for 2014, taken as a whole, is legal and regular.
Payments for 2014 are materially affected by error. We therefore give an adverse opinion on their legality and regularity.
For the full text of our statement of assurance, please refer to Chapter 1 of the 2014 annual report.
- The EU accounts for 2014 were correctly prepared in accordance with international standards and present a true and fair view. We were therefore able, once again, to give a clean opinion on their reliability. However, we gave an adverse opinion on the regularity of payments.
- The estimated level of error, which measures the level of irregularity, for 2014 payments is 4.4 %, close to that of 2013 (4.5 %) and persistently above the materiality threshold of 2 %.
- We found the same estimated level of error (4.6 %), under shared management with the Member States and for expenditure managed directly by the Commission. The highest levels of error were found in spending under ‘economic, social and territorial cohesion’ (5.7 %) and for ‘competitiveness for growth and jobs’ (5.6 %). Administrative expenditure had the lowest estimated level of error (0.5 %).
- There is a clear relationship between expenditure types and levels of error. Our estimated level of error for cost reimbursement schemes (5.5 %), where the EU reimburses eligible costs for eligible activities on the basis of cost declarations made by beneficiaries, is double that for entitlement programmes (2.7 %), where payments are made on meeting conditions rather than reimbursing costs.
- Corrective action by authorities in the Member States and by the Commission had a positive impact on the estimated level of error. Without this action, our overall estimated level of error would have been 5.5 %. There is further scope for the Commission to improve its assessment of risk and the impact of corrective actions.
- If the Commission, authorities in the Member States or independent auditors had made use of all information available to them, they could have prevented, or detected and corrected a significant proportion of the errors before these were made.
- Amounts to be paid in the current and future years remain at a very high level. It is essential for the Commission to take measures to deal with this persistent problem. For some Member States the backlog of unused funds represents a significant share of overall government spending.
- The periods of the 10‑year Europe 2020 strategy and the EU’s 7‑year budgetary cycles (2007-2013 and 2014-2020) are not aligned. Member States give inadequate attention to Europe 2020 achievements in partnership agreements and programmes. Both issues limit the Commission’s ability to monitor and report on performance and the contribution of the EU budget to Europe 2020.
- The upcoming mid‑term review of the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework is a key point in the management of EU spending. It is important that the Commission analyses the areas of persistently high levels of error as soon as possible and assesses opportunities for reducing this while strengthening the focus on performance in spending.
The full text of our 2014 annual reports on the EU budget and on the activities funded by the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th European Development Funds can be found here.