The European Court of Auditors was established as the EU’s external auditor in October . It is our mission to improve the way the EU's finances are managed, and to provide independent assurance that the EU has collected and spent its money according to the rules.

  • The need for external control of the Communities' finances

    When the European Communities were founded, a small audit board was put in place to carry out checks on its finances. Over time, the Communities' budget grew, and the European Parliament took on responsibility for budgetary control. It became clear that the audit board no longer had sufficient powers or resources to do what was required of it.

  • Birth of the ECA as “financial conscience”

    Heinrich Aigner, the chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control, recognised the weaknesses of the European Communities' audit arrangements, and argued the case for setting up a truly independent external audit body. The result was the European Court of Auditors, a new body established by the Treaty of Brussels on . The ECA started work in , with its headquarters in Luxembourg. Hans Kutscher, the President of the European Court of Justice, hailed it at the time as the Communities' “financial conscience”.

  • An EU institution

    The Maastricht Treaty, which entered into force on , gave the ECA the status of an institution of the European institution. Putting the ECA on an equal footing with the Parliament, Council and Commission enhanced its independence and authority. The Maastricht Treaty also entrusted the ECA with the task of issuing an annual statement of assurance on the reliability of the EU’s accounts, and the legality and regularity of the transactions underlying them.

  • An extended audit mandate

    The ECA’s role was further strengthened by the Treaty of Amsterdam, which came into force in . The Treaty extended the ECA’s audit powers to more policy areas, and formalised its role in combating fraud.

  • Closer cooperation with the Member States

    The Treaty of Nice came into force in . It highlighted the mutual importance of closer cooperation between the ECA and Member States’ national audit institutions.

    The Treaty of Lisbon, which came into force on , reaffirmed the Court’s mandate. It also introduced changes to the way EU funds were managed and scrutinised by strengthening the budgetary powers of the European Parliament, and by emphasising the Member States’ responsibility in implementing the budget.

  • Today

    Developing to meet the needs of an expanding EU

    The ECA has grown as the EU has evolved. From 9 Members and 120 members of the staff in , it now has 27 Members, and nearly 900 members of the staff from all Member States.

    Ever since it was established in 1977, the ECA has sought to help improve the EU's financial management by issuing high-quality, topical publications in all policy areas. Over the same period, the EU has welcomed new Member States, taken on new responsibilities, expanded its budget, and established new high-level, bodies and agencies all of which is taken into account in our work.

    Our output has increased considerably since the two opinions that we issued in our first year of operation. We now publish annual reports, statements of assurance, specific annual reports, special reports, opinions, and reviews. In recent years, we have begun to give greater priority to auditing the results of EU policies and providing advice on how performance can be improved.

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