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Discharge procedure for the EU Budget: Political scrutiny of budgetary implementation

05-05-2020

The European Commission is ultimately responsible for the execution of the European Union's budget. However, the process also involves a range of other players, including Member States, to which the Commission delegates implementing tasks relating to a significant share of the budget. Each year, the discharge procedure ensures that there is ex-post democratic oversight at political level of how the EU's annual budget has been used. It aims to verify whether implementation was in accordance with relevant ...

The European Commission is ultimately responsible for the execution of the European Union's budget. However, the process also involves a range of other players, including Member States, to which the Commission delegates implementing tasks relating to a significant share of the budget. Each year, the discharge procedure ensures that there is ex-post democratic oversight at political level of how the EU's annual budget has been used. It aims to verify whether implementation was in accordance with relevant rules (compliance), including the principles of sound financial management (performance). The decision on whether to grant discharge for the execution of the EU budget is made by the European Parliament, which acts on a non-binding recommendation by the Council, the other arm of the EU budgetary authority. Another key institution is the European Court of Auditors, the EU's independent external auditor, whose reports are a fundamental part of the procedure. The discharge procedure has proved to be a powerful tool, which has had an impact on the evolution of the EU's budgetary system, while helping to increase the Parliament's political leverage. Recent years have shown a trend towards a greater focus on results and performance, strongly supported and promoted by the European Parliament. For example, the 2018 version of the EU's Financial Regulation simplified the rules for budgetary implementation and introduced the 'single audit' approach to shared management. Another noteworthy issue is the question of how to ensure EU-level democratic scrutiny of financial tools set up to respond to crises either outside the EU's institutional framework (e.g. the European Stability Mechanism) or at least partially outside the EU budget (e.g. EU trust funds). This Briefing updates a previous edition of April 2016.

Special Reports of the European Court of Auditors - A Rolling Check-list of recent findings

28-02-2019

This rolling checklist presents an overview of the European Court of Auditors’ (ECA) special reports, concentrating on those relevant for the 2017 discharge procedure. It strives to link the research topics of the special reports to the relevant debates and positions within the European Parliament, including the working documents of the Committee on Budgetary Control, the work of the specialised parliamentary committees, plenary resolutions and individual questions by Members.

This rolling checklist presents an overview of the European Court of Auditors’ (ECA) special reports, concentrating on those relevant for the 2017 discharge procedure. It strives to link the research topics of the special reports to the relevant debates and positions within the European Parliament, including the working documents of the Committee on Budgetary Control, the work of the specialised parliamentary committees, plenary resolutions and individual questions by Members.

Democratic accountability and budgetary control of non-governmental organisations financed from the EU budget - Update

31-01-2019

The accessibility and quality of Commission data on grant funding has improved significantly since 2010. There have also been positive developments since 2016, and further developments are planned. However, there are still significant constraints that prevent meaningful analysis of grant funding data, and which must undermine policy formulation and monitoring. There is still a need for a more systematic approach to the communication of EU grant-funded activities to enhance EU visibility, and strengthen ...

The accessibility and quality of Commission data on grant funding has improved significantly since 2010. There have also been positive developments since 2016, and further developments are planned. However, there are still significant constraints that prevent meaningful analysis of grant funding data, and which must undermine policy formulation and monitoring. There is still a need for a more systematic approach to the communication of EU grant-funded activities to enhance EU visibility, and strengthen transparency and accountability.

Externý autor

Blomeyer & Sanz; Ackermann, Roderick; Franceschelli Nicolo; Debornes Lucie

2017 report on protection of the EU's financial interests – Fight against fraud

28-01-2019

In September 2018, the European Commission published its annual report on the fight against fraud affecting EU financial interests in 2017. The total value of the 15 213 irregularities reported in 2017 amounted to €2.58 billion, a decrease of 8.6 % in comparison to 2016. However, the value of the reported fraudulent irregularities amounted to €467 million, representing an increase of 19.4 % in comparison to 2016.

In September 2018, the European Commission published its annual report on the fight against fraud affecting EU financial interests in 2017. The total value of the 15 213 irregularities reported in 2017 amounted to €2.58 billion, a decrease of 8.6 % in comparison to 2016. However, the value of the reported fraudulent irregularities amounted to €467 million, representing an increase of 19.4 % in comparison to 2016.

The next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the Unity of EU budget

15-11-2017

The traditional issues of European budgetary negotiations are the size of the budget, the distribution of funds and the system of own resources. Under difficult circumstances, the negotiations on the new MFF post-2020 will start in 2018 and should be concluded by the end of 2019 or no later than the beginning of 2020. The unity of the EU budget is a cornerstone of European budgetary policy. However, a complete unity of all revenue and expenditure, and all financial instruments has not yet been achieved ...

The traditional issues of European budgetary negotiations are the size of the budget, the distribution of funds and the system of own resources. Under difficult circumstances, the negotiations on the new MFF post-2020 will start in 2018 and should be concluded by the end of 2019 or no later than the beginning of 2020. The unity of the EU budget is a cornerstone of European budgetary policy. However, a complete unity of all revenue and expenditure, and all financial instruments has not yet been achieved. Today the budgetary system is characterised by differentiation, fragmentation and increased use of ‘satellite’ instruments, and debates on additional financial instruments, like a budget for the Eurozone. The question of how to integrate these instruments into the Union’s budget system and thus guaranteeing democratic scrutiny, should be an additional issue of the negotiations on the MFF post-2020.

Externý autor

Dr. Peter Becker

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - October 2017

02-10-2017

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Democratic accountability of Council's budget - Council executive powers

21-06-2017

This in-depth analysis introduces the challenges that have been faced in delivering a discharge of the Council’s budget over the last decade, with particular regard to the Council’s executive activities. It analyses the institutional and legal constraints, and it makes a number of recommendations for how to achieve more accountability regarding the Council’s budget and executive expenditure without resorting to treaty reform.

This in-depth analysis introduces the challenges that have been faced in delivering a discharge of the Council’s budget over the last decade, with particular regard to the Council’s executive activities. It analyses the institutional and legal constraints, and it makes a number of recommendations for how to achieve more accountability regarding the Council’s budget and executive expenditure without resorting to treaty reform.

Externý autor

CEPS: Dr Giacomo Benedetto (Jean Monnet Chair, Royal Holloway, University of London) ; Dr David Rinaldi (Research Fellow, CEPS & Maîtres de conférences, ULB 0Institute for European Studies) ; Dr Hartmut Aden (Professor, Berlin School of Economics and Law)

Workshop Documentation on Budgetary Control of NGOs’ Financing from the EU Budget

15-02-2017

In the context of an own-initiative rapport (rapporteur: Markus Pieper, EPP), the CONT Committee decided last year to contract a study on “Democratic accountability and budgetary control of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) funded by the EU budget” to experts from the consultancy Blomeyer&Sanz. The study was presented in a pre-release version last November. It identified difficulties in terms of data availability and transparency, stemming from the fragmentation of European Commission’s systems ...

In the context of an own-initiative rapport (rapporteur: Markus Pieper, EPP), the CONT Committee decided last year to contract a study on “Democratic accountability and budgetary control of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) funded by the EU budget” to experts from the consultancy Blomeyer&Sanz. The study was presented in a pre-release version last November. It identified difficulties in terms of data availability and transparency, stemming from the fragmentation of European Commission’s systems. It also concluded that the existence of multiple, complex, overlapping NGOs networks pose significant challenges to accountability and transparency, as does the emergence of new and innovative funding mechanisms that do not involve large institutional donors. The workshop followed on the findings of the study and aimed at providing the CONT Committee with views of NGOs, in presence of European Commission’s and Court of Auditors’ representatives. The authors of the study, now finalised and updated with feedback received, were also present to comment. Considering the limited timing, the workshop focused on the examples of development policy, and environment policy (LIFE programme). This document can not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. The workshop was public and live webstreamed. The video record can be found under the following link: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/committees/video?event=20170206-1600-COMMITTEE-CONT

Externý autor

Roderick Ackermann, Victoria Gil Casado, Thomas Heckeberg, Seamus Jeffreson, Elsa Perreau, Kathrin Schick, Christian Strasser, Jean-Louis Ville, Jeremy Wates, Dennis Wernerus

Democratic Accountability and Budgetary Control of Non-Governmental Organisations Funded by the EU Budget

30-01-2017

This study follows up on a 2010 European Parliament study, ‘Financing of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) from the EU budget’. Difficulties identified in that study relating to fragmented European Commission systems still exist today. This constrains policy analysis and transparency and accountability. The existence of multiple, complex, overlapping NGO networks presents significant challenges to accountability and transparency, as does the emergence of new and innovative funding mechanisms that ...

This study follows up on a 2010 European Parliament study, ‘Financing of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) from the EU budget’. Difficulties identified in that study relating to fragmented European Commission systems still exist today. This constrains policy analysis and transparency and accountability. The existence of multiple, complex, overlapping NGO networks presents significant challenges to accountability and transparency, as does the emergence of new and innovative funding mechanisms that do not involve large institutional donors.

Externý autor

Roderick Ackermann, Elsa Perreau and Malin Carlberg (Blomeyer & Sanz Ltd.)

Annual report of the European Court of Auditors

18-11-2015

On 26 November, the Court of Auditors' (ECA) annual report concerning 2014 is due to be presented to the plenary. The report is an important element in the annual discharge procedure, and as in recent years, the Court has signed off the EU's accounts for 2014.

On 26 November, the Court of Auditors' (ECA) annual report concerning 2014 is due to be presented to the plenary. The report is an important element in the annual discharge procedure, and as in recent years, the Court has signed off the EU's accounts for 2014.

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