European Commission welcomes the positive assessment about how it has managed the EU budget

oettinger

Michel Barnier & Günther Oettinger. European Union, 2019 Source: EC – Audiovisual Service.

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


In its latest report about the management of the EU budget,the European Court of Auditors – the independent auditor of EU spending – confirmed that the Juncker Commission had significantly improved the way it administered the EU budget. The auditors gave the EU annual accounts a clean bill of health for a 12th year in a row and a qualified opinion on the 2018 payments for a third consecutive year. This is a high assessment of the targeted efforts of the Juncker Commission to make sure that every euro from the EU budget is spent in line with the rules and generates added value for our citizens.

Günther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, said: The European Commission works hard to make sure every euro from the EU budget is spent to the benefit of our citizens and creates an EU added value. We make sure that the rules are fully respected and errors are brought down to the minimum. We are glad that our efforts bear fruit and our independent auditors have once again confirmed that we have done a good job.”

EU Member States – important partners in the management of the EU budget

The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the EU budget together with a variety of partners – it manages around 75% of the EU spending jointly with the EU Member States. They play a key role in areas like cohesion and agriculture, where most of the budget is channelled through the national and regional management authorities. The Commission has strict rules regarding the good and effective management of the funds. We work hand in hand with Member States to guarantee that the budget is spent in line with these rules and that each euro from the EU budget goes where it is most needed.

Günther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, said: “Both the EU Cohesion Policy and our Common Agricultural Policy have proven their ability to deliver good results. At the same time, cohesion and rural development remain the most challenging to manage because of the many actors involved. The Commission helps Member States and the different managing authorities to do better when necessary. Our efforts so far show we are on the right track, we will continue working in the same direction.”

Making the most out of every euro

Making sure that every euro out of the EU budget achieves the best results possible across policy areas is of key importance to the Commission. This is why we have directed a lot of efforts to make sure that the EU budget is not only spent in line with the rules but also finances projects that address EU-wide challenges and make a difference for a large number of people. In the area of research for example, thanks to the world’s largest publicly funded Research and Innovation funding program Horizon 2020, the EU is supporting more than 300,000 researchers, including since yesterday 18 Nobel Prize laureates, and innovators. When it comes to border protection and migration management – an area of key importance to EU citizens – since 2015, EU-funded initiatives have helped save almost 760,000 lives in the Mediterranean and have led to a 92% decrease in arrivals in 2018 compared to the peak of the migratory crisis in 2015.

The focus on EU added value is also at the heart of the Commission’s proposal for the long-term budget for 2021-2027. It seeks to set clearer objectives and focus more on performance. The goal is to make it easier to monitor and measure results – and to make changes when necessary. This is expected to further improve the way the EU budget is spent.

Simpler rules to increase the effectiveness of EU funding

In the recent years, the Commission has worked to further simplify the rules under which the EU budget is spent, as simpler rules mean easier access to the funds and fewer management errors.

Recovering EU funds spent incorrectly

The Commission as a manager of the EU budget aims to ensure that, once a programme is closed and all controls are carried out, the remaining risk to the EU budget is below 2% – the level considered by the Court as material.

For this purpose, the Commission is monitoring the implementation of the EU budget on the ground. If Member States or final beneficiaries are found to be spending the EU money incorrectly, the Commission may recover funds to protect the EU budget. In 2018, the Commission estimates that, after such corrections and recoveries, the remaining risk of error for the EU budget is below 1%.

Background

The publication of the Annual Report by the European Court of Auditors kicks off the annual ‘discharge procedure’ of the EU budget. To prepare the ground for the process, in July 2019 the Commission published information on EU revenue, expenditure, budget management and performance in the reports of the Integrated Financial and Accountability Reporting. This reporting confirms that the EU budget in 2018 has delivered concrete results, helped achieve the political priorities of the European Union, created added value for EU citizens, and was spent in line with EU rules.

The estimated level of error is not a measure of fraud, inefficiency or waste. It is simply an estimate of the money already paid from the EU budget despite non-compliance with certain rules.

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