EU auditors call for more transparent and responsive budget

16 Feb 18

The EU budget should place greater emphasis on accountability and transparency and be able to react more flexibly to unforeseen circumstances, auditors have said. 

In a briefing paper published yesterday, the European Court of Auditors called for a “robust concept” of EU value added to evaluate spending programmes and assess risks.

This would also provide a more accurate view of the costs, benefits and net balances of EU membership, the auditors said, stressing that the bloc should analyse both the financial and non-financial advantages of the membership.

Jan Gregor, the ECA member responsible for the briefing paper, said: “Although it is not for the European Court of Auditors to give its views on the size or allocation of EU expenditure or on the choice of EU revenues, it is our role to provide advice on improving the financial management, transparency and accountability of the EU budget system.”

The paper, called Reforming how the EU budget operates, comes in response to the European Commission’s reflection paper on the future of its finances.

The spending watchdog also proposed making the budget more flexible to improve its responsiveness to changing circumstances and bringing in a system of reserves to cover long-term spending and unforeseen events.

Additionally, the auditors called for a full democratic oversight of all EU finances to improve accountability and transparency.

The European Commission should also publish a medium-to-long term financial plan for the budget, including expected outstanding commitments, pre-financing and contingent liabilities, a payment forecast, an analysis of the economic and financial context and a risk assessment, to be updated annually.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement setting out budget options for the bloc: “Budgets are not bookkeeping exercises – they are about priorities and ambition. They translate our future into figures. So let’s first discuss about the Europe we want. 

“Then, member states must back their ambition up with the money to match.

“And whilst we all need to understand that business as usual is not an option for this upcoming discussion, I firmly believe that we can square the circle and agree on a budget where everyone will be a net beneficiary.”

The European Commission said it was setting out options to modernise the EU budget, including strengthening the link between the goals of the budget and the way it is funded.

The commission will present its formal proposal for the next long-term budget in the coming months, and by May at the latest, it said.


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