The European Court of Auditors
The second Budget Treaty, signed in July 1975 [see section 2.1], established the Court of Auditors as the body responsible for the external supervision of the general budget of the Union and the Treaty of Amsterdam recognised it as an institution. It consists of one national from each Member State. The Members of the Court of Auditors are chosen from among persons who belong or have belonged in their respective countries to external audit bodies or who are especially qualified for this office. They are appointed for a term of six years by the Council, acting by a qualified majority after consulting the European Parliament. They are completely independent in the performance of their duties (Article 286 TFEU).
The Court of Auditors examines the accounts of all revenue and expenditure of the Union, particularly the annual budget managed by the Commission, and of all bodies set up by the European Union. It examines in particular whether all revenue has been received and all expenditure incurred in a lawful and regular manner and must report on any cases of irregularity. The audit must be based on records and, if necessary, performed on the spot in the other institutions of the EU, on the premises of any body which manages revenue or expenditure on behalf of the Union and in the Member States, including on the premises of any natural or legal person in receipt of payments from the budget (Article 287 TFEU).
The Court of Auditors draws up an annual report after the close of each financial year. This is forwarded to the other institutions of the Union and is published, together with the replies of these institutions to the observations of the Court of Auditors, in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Court must provide the European Parliament and the Council with a statement of assurance as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions. The annual and the specific reports of the Court of Auditors are acknowledged to be a valuable input to Parliament's debates on the discharge to be given to the Commission for its execution of the budget (Article 287 TFEU). The growing importance of the Court of Auditors testifies to the will of the European institutions and of the governments of the Member States to extend and improve financial control [see section 3.4]. This is due to the increasing size of the Union budget, which is a direct consequence of the development of the various common policies that we are examining in this book.