Brussels, 10 May 2012 – The Commission welcomes today’s decision by the European Parliament to grant discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the 2010 budget.
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud, said: “I greatly appreciate the support that the European Parliament has shown today for our work to ensure that EU funds are correctly controlled and managed. The very constructive dialogue between our two institutions in the run up to today’s vote has confirmed a common ambition to ensure that EU taxpayers’ money is spent properly, and spent well. Huge improvements have been made over the past 10 years but we can’t stop here. The Commission has tabled even stronger measures for EU financial management under the next generation of spending programmes, which will help to reduce errors even further. I count on the co-legislators, Parliament and Council to back these measures, so that we can continue to assure citizens that we are doing everything in our power to protect their money.”
A common ambition to ensure that EU taxpayers’ money is properly spent
Today’s decision to grant discharge to the Commission for the management of EU funded programmes comes at a critical moment when discussions between the European Parliament (EP) and the Council on future EU programmes are advanced. This positive decision is the result of very constructive discussions which allowed all institutions involved – the Parliament, the Council and the Commission- to underline the recent progress made, as well as to look at where further improvements are required.
Stronger measures for future EU financial management
The Commission has already taken many steps in its proposals for the next generation of programmes (2014-2020) tabled in early autumn 2011. These include:
- Simpler rules, which are easier to apply and easier to check for compliance, thereby reducing the risk of errors;
- More transparent reporting and enhanced accountability requirements for Member States, who will have to submit every year a statement of assurance on their accounts and systems performance, verified by an independent auditor;
- A new system for monitoring progress in achieving set targets i.e. by setting objectives and key performance indicators in each of the proposals made for the next financial period.
- Stricter preventive and corrective measures: the Commission will be able to interrupt payments for up to 9 months and would be entitled to cancel definitely some or all of the EU funding for a programme if Member States fail to address in a timely manner serious weaknesses in their systems
The budget discharge is the final approval of the EU budget implementation for a given year. It is granted by the European Parliament on a recommendation from the Member States in Council. The Parliament uses the Court of Auditors’ report (statement of assurance) as the primary basis for this decision. Discharge equates to approval of how the Commission implemented the budget in that financial year and the closure of the accounts.
Under the Treaty (Article 317 TFEU), the Commission implements the budget on its own responsibility. However, under shared management (including e.g. agriculture, rural development, regional and social policies and fishery programmes representing about 80% of the Union’s budget), the first level controls and checks belong to the national authorities. They design and implement their own systems which are subject to Commission’s and the Court of Auditors’ audit.