The European Court of Auditors approved the annual accounts of the EU for the 11th consecutive year as true and appropriate.
The Commission is monitoring the implementation of the EU budget on the ground, according to the Brussels communiqué. "If it turns out that Member States or the final beneficiaries spend EU funds incorrectly, the Commission takes the necessary recovery measures," they say.
"In 2017, the Commission recovered € 2.8 billion, corresponding to 2.1% of payments to the EU budget. As a result, the amount actually at risk would be below the 2% threshold after corrections and recoveries have been taken into account. "
"For the second year in a row, the Court issued a qualified opinion on the payments for 2017 – only one degree below an unqualified opinion," the European Commission said in a statement.
"The report thus reveals further improvements in terms of compliance and performance, and confirms that the Commission is on track," says Brussels.
Although an unqualified opinion means that the data are true and appropriate, a reserved opinion means that there are only small issues yet to be resolved, contextualized.
The objective of the Commission, as the manager of the EU budget, is to ensure that, at the closure of the programs and after all the checks have been carried out, the level of error remains below 2% – the level considered significant by the Court. This target was reached in 2017, given the error rate has reached its lowest level ever. The Commission estimates that, after corrections and recoveries, the residual level of expenditure error in 2017 will be less than 1%.
In June 2018, the Commission adopted the annual report on the management and implementation of the EU budget for 2017. "This report confirms that the EU budget for 2017 has contributed to the pursuit of the European Union's political priorities, has generated added value for its citizens and was spent in accordance with EU rules, "says Brussels.
Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, said in a statement that he welcomed "the conclusions of the Court; the report shows that our money was well spent. "
"The EU budget is small – but it makes a big difference for millions of Europeans. It is a unique tool to protect, empower and defend our citizens in a rapidly changing world, where many of the most pressing issues go beyond the borders of a single country, "he said. "This is also the reason why the European Commission is working hard to ensure that the EU budget is focused on creating real added value. It is clear, in order to ensure that results continue to be achieved for citizens across the EU after 2020, that we must support the European Parliament and the Council with a view to a timely adoption of the next long-term budget, "Oettinger argues.
Member States manage around 75% of EU spending and the Commission is working closely with them to ensure that money is spent efficiently and efficiently.
The Commission has taken a set of measures to help Member States to schedule shared management funds "as early as possible in the programming period", to complete the projects on time and to present the invoices for reimbursement. "The aim is to prevent the occurrence of errors by causing Member States to detect, report and correct any irregularities at an early stage so as not to risk losing funds to which they would have been entitled," the statement said.
"Updating the Financial Regulation provides for even more intensive cooperation between the European Commission and the national authorities, which will lead to even more effective expenditure and better controls," he says.