|Court of Auditors|
The ECA was created by the 1975 Budgetary Treaty and was formally established on 18 October 1977, holding its first session a week later. At that time the ECA was not a formal institution; it was an external body designed to audit the finances of the European Communities. It replaced two separate audit bodies, one which dealt with the finances of the European Economic Community and Euratom, and one which dealt with the European Coal and Steel Community.
The ECA did not have a defined legal status until the Treaty of Maastricht when it was made the fifth institution, the first new institution since the founding of the Community. By becoming an institution it gained some new powers, such as the ability to bring actions before the European Court of Justice (ECJ). At first its audit power related only to the European Community pillar of the European Union (EU), but under the Treaty of Amsterdam it gained the full power to audit the finances of the whole of the EU.
Despite its name, the ECA has no jurisdictional functions. It is rather a professional external investigatory audit agency. The primary role of the ECA is to externally check if the budget of the European Union has been implemented correctly, in that EU funds have been spent legally and with sound management. In doing so, the ECA checks the paperwork of all persons handling any income or expenditure of the Union and carries out spot checks. The ECA is bound to report any problems in its reports for the attention of the EU's Member States and institutions, these reports include its general and specific annual reports, as well as special reports on its performance audits. The ECA 's decision is the basis for the European Commission decisions; for example, when the ECA found problems in the management of EU funds in the regions of England, the Commission suspended funds to those regions and is prepared to fine those who do not return to acceptable standards.
In this role, the ECA has to remain independent yet remain in touch with the other institutions; for example, a key role is the presentation of the ECA 's annual report to the European Parliament. It is based on this report that the Parliament makes its decision on whether or not to sign off the European Commission's handling of the budget for that year. The Parliament notably refused to do this in 1984 and 1999, the latter case forced the resignation of the Santer Commission. The ECA, if satisfied, also sends assurances to the Council and Parliament that the taxpayers' money is being properly used, and the ECA must be consulted before the adoption of any legislation with financial implications, but its opinion is never binding.
The ECA is composed of one member from each EU Member State, each of whom is appointed unanimously by the Council of the European Union for a renewable term of six years. They are not all replaced every six years, however, as their terms do not coincide (four of the original members began with reduced terms of four years for this reason). Members are chosen from people who have served in national audit bodies, who are qualified for the office and whose independence is beyond doubt. While serving in the Court, members cannot engage in any other professional activities. As the body is independent, its members are free to decide their own organisation and rules of procedure, although these must be ratified by the Council of the European Union. Since the Treaty of Nice, the ECA can set up "chambers" (with only a few Members each) to adopt certain types of reports or opinions.
The ECA is supported by a staff of approximately 800 auditors, translators and administrators recruited as part of the European Civil Service. Auditors are divided into auditor groups which inspect and prepare draft reports for the ECA to take decisions upon. Inspections take place not only of EU institutions but of any state which receives EU funds, given that 90% of income and expenditure is managed by national authorities rather than the EU. Upon finding a fault, the ECA —possessing no legal powers of its own—informs the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF), which is the EU's anti-fraud agency. The ECA is also assisted by the Secretary-General of the European Court of Auditors, elected by the College of ECA Members, who—along with general management and assistance to the President—draws up draft minutes and keeps archives of decisions, as well as ensuring the publication of reports in the Official Journal of the European Union.
The members then elect one of their number as the President of the ECA for a renewable three-year term. The election takes place by a secret ballot of those members who applied for the presidency. The duties of the President (which may be delegated) are to convene and chair the meetings of the ECA, ensuring that decisions are implemented and the departments (and other activities) are soundly managed. The President also represents the institution and appoints a representative for it in contentious proceedings.
The current President is Klaus-Heiner Lehne, elected on 13 September 2016. He succeeded Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira (of Portugal), elected in 2007. Previous presidents have been Sir Norman Price (1977, United Kingdom), Michael Murphy (1977, Ireland), Pierre Lelong (1981, France), Marcel Mart (1984, Luxembourg), Aldo Angioi (1990, Italy), André Middelhoek (1992, Netherlands), Bernhard Friedmann (1996, Germany), Jan O. Karlsson (1999, Sweden), Juan Manuel Fabra Vallés † (2002, Spain) and Hubert Weber (2006, Austria).
The Secretary-General is the ECA's most senior member of staff. Appointed for a renewable term of 6 years, he is responsible for the management of the ECA's staff and for the administration of the ECA. In addition, the Secretary-General is responsible for the budget, translation, training and information technology.
ECA staff are mainly officials recruited via the reserve lists from general competitions organised by the European Personnel Selection Office external link (EPSO). In certain circumstances, however, the ECA may also engage temporary or contract staff. To be eligible for a post at the ECA, one must be a citizen of one of the European Union Member States.
Just like the other EU institutions, the ECA organises three traineeship sessions per year in areas of interest to its work. Traineeships are granted for three, four or five months maximum, and may be remunerated (1350 €/month) or non-remunerated.
The ECA publishes the results of its audit work in a variety of reports – annual reports, specific annual reports and special reports – depending on the type of audit. Other published products include opinions and review-based publications. In total, the ECA published 93 reports in 2017 
Annual reports contain the results of financial and compliance audit work on the European Union budget and European Development Funds. They comprise the annual statements of assurance, and also cover budgetary management and performance aspects.
Special reports present the results of selected performance and compliance audits of specific spending or policy areas, or budgetary or management issues.
Review-based publications such as landscape reviews, briefing papers, rapid case reviews and background papers. Landscape reviews are descriptive and analytical documents of complex, largescale policy areas or management issues, in which we set out our accumulated experience and knowledge on the selected topic, often from a cross‐cutting perspective. Briefing papers are similar in nature to landscape reviews (descriptive and analytical documents of policy or management), but address more focused topics. Rapid case reviews present and establish facts surrounding very focused specific issues or problems and, if necessary they may include an analysis to help understand those facts. Background papers provide information based on preparatory work undertaken before the start of an on-going audit task. They are intended as a source of information for those interested in the policy and/or programme being audited.
Opinions provide our views on new or updated laws with a significant impact on EU financial management.
Specific annual reports present the results of the annual financial audits of EU’s agencies, decentralised bodies and joint undertakings.
All reports, opinions and reviews are published on the ECA’s website in the official EU languages.
Since 1994 the ECA has been required to provide a "Declaration of Assurance", essentially a certificate that an entire annual budget can be accounted for. This has proved to be a problem, as even relatively minor omissions require the ECA to refuse a declaration of assurance for the entire budget, even if almost all of the budget is considered reliable.
This has led to media reports of the EU accounts being "riddled with fraud", where issues are based on errors in paperwork even though the underlying spending was legal. The auditing system itself has drawn criticism from this perception. The Commission in particular has stated that the bar is too high, and that only 0.09% of the budget is subject to fraud. The Commission has elsewhere stated that it is important to distinguish between fraud and other irregularities. The controversial dismissal in 2003 of Marta Andreasen for her criticism of procedures in 2002 has, for some, called into doubt the integrity of the institutions.
It is frequently claimed that annual accounts have not been certified by the external auditor since 1994. In its annual report on the implementation of the 2009 EU Budget, the Court of Auditors found that the two biggest areas of the EU budget, agriculture and regional spending, have not been signed off on and remain "materially affected by error".
Terry Wynn, an MEP who served on the Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control and reached the position of chairman, has also backed these calls, stating that it is impossible for the Commission to achieve these standards. In a report entitled EU Budget – Public Perception & Fact – how much does it cost, where does the money go and why is it criticised so much?, Wynn cites consensus that practice in the EU differs from that in the USA. In the USA, the focus is on the financial information, not on the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions, 'So, other than in Europe, the political reaction in the US to the failure to obtain a clean audit opinion is only "a big yawn"'.
By comparison, the Comptroller and Auditor General for the United Kingdom stated that there were 500 separate accounts for the UK, and "in the last year, I qualified 13 of the 500. If I had to operate the EU system, then, because I qualify 13 accounts, I might have to qualify the whole British central government expenditure". Despite the problems, the Barroso Commission stated that it aimed to bring the budget within the Court's limits by the end of its mandate in 2009.
The ECA made clear in its year report for 2010 that "Responsibility for the legality and regularity of spending on Cohesion Policies starts in the Member States, but the Commission bears the ultimate responsibility for the correct implementation of the budget". In previous reports, the ECA has noted that "Regardless of the method of implementation applied, the Commission bears the ultimate responsibility for the legality and regularity of the transactions underlying the accounts of the European Communities (Article 274 of the Treaty)".
The size of the ECA has also come under criticism. Owing to the one-member-per-state system, its College of Members grew from nine to twenty-eight as of 2013. Attempting to get consensus in the body has thus become more difficult; this led to the number of its special reports per year shrinking from fifteen to six between 2003 and 2005, despite its staff growing by 200 over the same period. Some proposals have been for its size to be reduced to five members or just one, possibly with an advisory board with members from each member state. However, neither the European Constitution nor the Treaty of Lisbon proposed any changes to its composition, despite calls by former ECA members and MEPs to embrace change.
Annemie Turtelboom (born 22 November 1967) is a Belgian politician and a member of the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats.
She was Minister of migration and asylum policy in the Leterme I Government. She became Belgium's minister of the interior in the Van Rompuy I Government on 17 July 2009, and retained that office in the Leterme II Government, which took office on 24 November 2009. Turtelboom served as Minister of Justice in the Di Rupo Government (2011-2014). Since 25 July 2014 Turtelboom serves as Flemish minister of Finance, Budget and Energy in the Bourgeois Government (2014-2019). On 29 April 2016 she resigned from her function as minister in the Flemish government, in order to take up the position of Belgian member of the European Court of Auditors.Barry Desmond
Barry Seán Desmond (born 15 May 1935) is an Irish former Labour Party politician who served as a Member of the European Court of Auditors from 1994 to 2000, and as Minister for Health and Minister for Social Welfare between 1982 and 1987. He served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1989 to 1994, and as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1969 to 1989.He was born in Cork in 1935, and was educated at Coláiste Chríost Rí, the School of Commerce and University College Cork. He became a trade union official with the ITGWU (known later as SIPTU) and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. His father Cornelius (Con) was Lord Mayor of Cork in 1965–66.Desmond first entered Dáil Éireann at the 1969 general election, when he was elected as a Labour Party TD for Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown. He retained his seat there in 1973 and was then elected in 1977 at Dún Laoghaire, where he won a seat at every election until his retirement from the Dáil in 1989. From 1981 to 1982 he served as Minister of State at the Department of Finance, under Garret FitzGerald as Taoiseach. In 1982, after Michael O'Leary's resignation as Labour Party leader, Dick Spring was elected as the party's new leader and Desmond was chosen as his deputy.
Fine Gael and the Labour Party together gained a majority in the November 1982 general election. In the second FitzGerald administration, Desmond was appointed Minister for Social Welfare and Minister for Health. FitzGerald began a major cabinet reshuffle in February 1986, with the intention to appoint him as Minister for Justice; Desmond refused, and Spring supported him in that attitude. The outcome was that he remained as Minister for Health while Gemma Hussey took on the Social Welfare portfolio. Desmond resigned from his remaining ministerial post on 20 January 1987, along with the other Labour ministers, bringing about the collapse of the government.
At the 1987 general election Fianna Fáil returned to power. Desmond did not contest the 1989 general election, and on 15 June 1989 he was elected as a Labour Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Dublin, serving until 1994. He was then a member of the European Court of Auditors from 1994 to 2000, being replaced by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.
He was elected president of the Maritime Institute of Ireland on 18 November 2006. He remains a member of the Council of the Maritime Institute of Ireland. As president he oversaw the revision of its articles of association and the securing of €3.2 million funding for the restoration of Mariners' Church, Dún Laoghaire, which houses the National Maritime Museum of Ireland.Budgetary treaties of the European Communities
The Budgetary treaties of the European Communities were two treaties in the 1970s amending the Treaty of Rome in respects to powers over the Community budget.
The first treaty, signed in 1970, gave the European Parliament the last word on what is known as "non-compulsory expenditure" (compulsory spending is that resulting from EC treaties (including agriculture) and international agreements; the rest is non-compulsory). The second treaty, signed in 1975, gave Parliament the power to reject the budget as a whole and created the European Court of Auditors. However, the Council still has the last word on compulsory spending while Parliament has the last word on non-compulsory spending.As a result of these treaties, the budgetary authority of what is now the European Union is held jointly by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. Parliament is responsible for discharging the implementation of previous budgets, on the basis of the annual report of the European Court of Auditors. It has refused to approve the budget only twice, in 1984 and in 1998. On the latter occasion it led to the resignation of the Santer Commission.EUROSAI
EUROSAI - European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions - is one of the seven regional working groups of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).
Currently EUROSAI comprises 50 members: Supreme Audit Institutions of 49 countries and the European Court of Auditors.
INTOSAI comprises 191 full members: the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of 190 countries and the European Court of Auditors (and 4 associate members) and is listed as a support organisation of the United Nations.Gijs de Vries
Gijsbert Marius "Gijs" de Vries (born 22 February 1956) is a retired American–born Dutch politician and diplomat of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and later the Democrats 66 (D66) party.
He was deputy Interior Minister between 1998 and 2002, and was the European Union's anti-terrorism co-ordinator from 25 March 2004 to March 2007. As of September 2008, he was the chairman of the European Security Research and Innovation Forum (ESRIF).From 1984 to 1998, Gijs de Vries was a member of the European Parliament for three consecutive terms. From 1994 to 1998, he was chairman of the group of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party. He quit the European Parliament to become state secretary of the interior in the Dutch government Kok II.
As the EU anti-terrorism coordinator, he worked for Javier Solana in the Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCCM) pillar. Solana outlined his duties as being to streamline, organise and co-ordinate the EU and its members fight against terrorism.
He stood down from the post in March 2007, citing personal reasons, but it is commonly understood that the position's mandate didn't have the necessary operational powers, as well as an overall reluctance within member states to supply information regarding anti-terror activities, even though the member states fully supported the establishment of the anti-terrorism coordinator after the 2004 Madrid train bombings. In September 2007, MEPs called for the post to be filled, having been vacant for six months, and for it to be given real powers to carry out the post's tasks. On 20 September 2007, the Belgian Gilles de Kerchove was appointed to succeed De Vries in the post.Prior to 2010 he had been a member of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). However, due to dissatisfaction at the VVD's decision to form a minority government with the support of the Party for Freedom led by Geert Wilders he left the party and joined the social liberal Democrats 66.Henri Grethen
Henri Grethen (born 16 July 1950) is a politician from Luxembourg.
Grethen was born in Esch-sur-Alzette. He attended school in Echternach and studied in Luxembourg and Liège. In 1980, he became secretary of the Democratic Party, and in 1999, he became Minister for Economy and Transport.
He currently works for the European Court of Auditors as representative for Luxembourg.Hubert Weber
Hubert Weber (born 1939) was the President of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) from 2005 until January 2008. He was born in Vienna (Austria) in 1939 and is a Doctor of Law of the University of Vienna.
Weber worked in the Austrian civil service between 1959 and 1970, then becoming an auditor at the Austrian Court of Auditors and from 1971 also becoming involved with the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions. He became a member of the European Court on 1 March 1999 and was elected President on 16 January 2005.Iliana Ivanova
Iliana Naidenova Ivanova (Bulgarian: Илиана Найденова Иванова, born in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria) is a Bulgarian politician and economist, currently serving as Member of the European Court of Auditors.
She graduated from foreign language high school "Romain Rolland" in her hometown where she studied French and English. In 1998 she graduated with a bachelor's degree in International Economic Relations from the Economic University in Varna. In 2004 Iliana Ivanova defended her master’s thesis in International Finance at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona.
She gained diverse experience from working at American financial and banking institutions.
Before that, Iliana Ivanova worked as a coordinator International Financial institutions in the "Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture and Food".Iliana Ivanova was a municipal councillor from GERB’s voting list in the Municipality of Sofia (2007-2011 mandates). She was MEP at the European Parliament from 2009 to 2012. During her mandate in the European Parliament she was Vice-chair of the Committee on Budgetary control, Vice-chair of the Special Committee on the Economic, Financial and Social crisis, Vice-chair of the Delegation of the European Parliament to China, Member of the Committee on Internal market and Consumers protection, Member substitute of the Economic and monetary Committee.
As of 1 January 2013 she is Member of the European Court of Auditors.On 21 September 2016 she was elected Dean of Chamber II, responsible for auditing structural policies, transport and energy spending areas.
She speaks Bulgarian, English, French, German and Russian.Inter-Active Terminology for Europe
Inter-Active Terminology for Europe (IATE) is the inter-institutional terminology database of the European Union. The project was launched in 1999 with the objective of creating a web-based interface for all EU terminology resources so as to make the information more easily available and ensure its standardisation throughout the EU institutions. It has been used in the EU institutions and agencies since summer 2004. A public user interface was released for testing in early 2007 and was officially opened on 28 June 2007.IATE incorporated all of the existing terminology databases of the EU’s translation services into one interinstitutional database containing approximately 1.4 million multilingual entries. The following legacy databases were imported into IATE:
Eurodicautom (European Commission)
TIS (Council of the European Union)
Euterpe (European Parliament)
Euroterms (Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union)
CDCTERM (European Court of Auditors).The project partners are the European Commission, European Parliament, Council of the European Union, European Court of Justice, European Court of Auditors, European Economic and Social Committee, European Committee of the Regions, European Central Bank, European Investment Bank, and the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union.
The IATE web site is administered by the EU Translation Centre in Luxembourg on behalf of the project partners. The subject 'domains' are based on Eurovoc.
The entire IATE glossary database can be downloaded for free in a zipped format, then multilanguage glossaries can be generated using a free tool.Jan O. Karlsson
Jan Olov Karlsson (1 June 1939 – 19 September 2016) was a Swedish politician; former Minister for Development Cooperation, Migration and Asylum Policy (2002-2003) and acting Minister for Foreign Affairs (11 September-10 October 2003), following the murder of Anna Lindh. He also served as President of the European Court of Auditors.Kersti Kaljulaid
Kersti Kaljulaid (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈkersti ˈkɑljulɑid̥]; born 30 December 1969) is an Estonian politician who is the fifth and current President of Estonia, in office since 10 October 2016. She is the first female head of state of Estonia since the country declared independence in 1918, as well as the youngest ever President, aged 46 at the time of her election.Kaljulaid is a former state official, serving as Estonia's representative in the European Court of Auditors from 2004 until 2016. After several unsuccessful rounds of Estonian presidential elections in 2016, Kaljulaid was brought in as a "dark horse", and on 30 September 2016 she was nominated by the majority of parliamentary parties as a joint candidate for President of Estonia, as the only official candidate for that round. Kaljulaid was voted President of Estonia on 3 October 2016, by 81 votes with 17 abstainers.Klaus-Heiner Lehne
Since 1 March 2014, Klaus-Heiner Lehne (born 28 October 1957 in Düsseldorf, Germany) is a Member of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) and on 1 October 2016 became its 11th President. Beforehand, he was a member of the European Parliament for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). In his previous national and European parliamentary career, spanning more than twenty years, he served among other things from 2009-2014 as Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs and concurrently as Chair of the Conference of Committee Chairs.Louis Galea
Louis Galea (born 2 January 1948) is a Maltese politician who was Malta's representative on the European Court of Auditors from 2010 till 2016. Previously he served in the government of Malta as Minister of Education from 1998 to 2008 and was Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malta from 2008 to 2010.Marcel Mart
Marcel Mart (born 10 May 1927 in Esch-sur-Alzette) is a retired Luxembourgish politician, jurist, and businessperson.
A member of the Democratic Party, Mart served in the government under Pierre Werner (1969–1974) and Gaston Thorn (1974–1977). In 1977, he was named as Luxembourg's representative in the European Court of Auditors, in which he sat for two six-year terms, during which time he also served as President (1984–1989).Rasa Budbergytė
Rasa Budbergytė (born 8 May 1960) is a Lithuanian politician and a member of the Seimas. She previously served as state's Auditor General, member at European Court of Auditors and Minister of Finance.Richie Ryan (politician)
Richard Oliver Ryan (born 27 February 1929) is an Irish former Fine Gael politician who served as Minister for Finance and Minister for the Public Service from 1973 to 1977 and a Member of the European Court of Auditors from 1986 to 1989. He served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1973 to 1977 and 1979 to 1984. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1959 to 1982.Secretary-General of the European Court of Auditors
The Secretary-General is the European Court of Auditors most senior member of staff.
Appointed for a renewable term of 6 years,
he is responsible for the management of the Court's staff
and for the administration of the Court.
In addition, the Secretary-General is responsible for the budget, translation, training and information technology.Ville Itälä
Ville Heimo Antero Itälä (born 10 May 1959 in Luumäki) is the Director-General of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and a former a Finnish politician. He was elected member of the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta) from the district of Southwest Finland in 1995. Itälä served as the Minister of the Interior under Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen from September 2000 to April 2003. He was elected chairman of the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) in 2001. Following his resignation as party leader in 2004, he was succeeded by Jyrki Katainen. Itälä was a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 until 29 February 2012. He was a member of the European Court of Auditors from 2012 until February 2018. Since August 2018 he is the Director-General of OLAF.Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira
Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira (born 1960) is the President of the Portuguese Court of Auditors and former President of the European Court of Auditors.
He was born in Campo Maior, Portugal.He has a degree in Law from the University of Lisbon and a postgraduate degree in European Studies from the European Institute of the Faculty of Law at that university.He was an assistant professor at the Faculty of Law of Lisbon University from 1983 to 1984, and he worked at the Inspectorate General of Finance at the Portuguese Ministry of Finance from 1984 to 2000. From 1996 to 1999 he was an assistant professor at the Higher Institute of the New Professions.
Caldeira was elected President of the European Court of Auditors for a term of three years from 16 January 2008. His mandate was renewed on 12 January 2011 for a second term, and on 23 January 2014 for a third term.