In democratic societies there is a need for complete and accurate publicly available information as a basis for debate and decision-making, both to improve financial management and to ensure accountability. The EU, like its Member States, has an external auditor as an independent guardian of the financial interests of the citizens. As the external auditor of the EU, the European Court of Auditors checks that EU funds are correctly accounted for and spent in compliance with the rules and legislation, with due consideration for achieving best value for money, irrespective of where the funds are spent.
The results of the Court’s work are used by the Commission, the Parliament and the Council as well as by Member States, to improve the financial management of the EU budget. The Court’s work provides an important basis for the annual discharge procedure whereby the Parliament, basing its decision on recommendations from the Council, decides whether the Commission has met its responsibility for the execution of the previous year’s budget. Despite its name, the Court has no judicial powers.
In the areas of the budget where management is shared, Member States cooperate with the Commission in setting up supervisory and control systems - internal control - to ensure that funds are spent properly and in accordance with the rules. Internal control thus has an EU as well as a national dimension. In addition to the work done by the Court, many National Audit Institutions audit European funds that are managed and spent by national administrations.