The European Court of Auditors is one of five institutions of the European Union. Its "mission is to audit independently the collection and spending of European Union funds and, through this, assess the way that the European institutions discharge these functions". This article or section should be merged with List of European Union-related topics The European Union has several institutions: The European Parliament The European Council The Council of the European Union (or Council of Ministers) The European Commission The European Court of Justice (incorporating the Court of First Instance...
The Court of Auditors checks that all the Union's revenue has been received and all its expenditure incurred in a lawful and regular manner and that the EU budget has been managed soundly. The Court was established on 22 July 1975 by the Budgetary Treaty of 1975. The Court started operating as an external Community audit body in October 1977. Since the Treaty of Maastricht the European Court of Auditors has been recognised as one of the institutions of the European Communities. The treaties of the European Union are effectively its constitutional law, making up the EUs primary legislation. ...
The Maastricht treaty (formally, the Treaty on European Union) was signed on 7 February 1992 in Maastricht between the members of the European Community and entered into force on 1 November 1993. ...
The Court has one member from each EU country, appointed by the Council for a renewable term of six years. Even after enlargement there will still be one member per EU country but, for the sake of efficiency, the Court can set up "chambers" (with only a few members each) to adopt certain types of report or opinion. The Council of the European Union forms, along with the European Parliament, the legislative arm of the European Union (EU). ...
The Enlargement of the European Union is the growth in size of the European Union, from the six founding member states in 1952, to the 25 current member states. ...
In their countries of origin, the members of the Court have all worked for an auditing institution or are specifically qualified for that work. They are chosen for their competence and independence, and they work full-time for the Court.
The members elect one of their number as President for a term of three years.
The Court's main role is to check that the EU budget is correctly implemented — in other words, that EU income and expenditure is legal and above board and to ensure sound financial management. So its work helps guarantee that the EU system operates efficiently and openly.
To carry out its tasks, the Court investigates the paperwork of any organisation handling EU income or expenditure. If need be, it carries out on-the-spot checks. Its findings are written up in reports which draw the attention of the Commission and the member states to any problems.
To do its job effectively, the Court of Auditors must remain independent of the other institutions but at the same time stay in constant touch with them.
One of its key functions is to help the budgetary authority (the European Parliament and the Council) by presenting them every year with a report on the previous financial year. The comments it makes in this annual report play a very important role in Parliament's decision whether or not to approve the Commission's handling of the budget. If satisfied, the Court of Auditors also sends the Council and Parliament a statement of assurance that European taxpayers' money has been properly used. The European Parliament is the parliamentary body of the European Union (EU), directly elected by EU citizens once every five years. ...
Finally, the Court of Auditors gives an opinion before the EU's financial regulations are adopted. It can comment at any time on specific issues, or it can give an opinion at the request of one of the EU institutions.
Organization of work
The Court of Auditors works independently, and is free to decide how to schedule its auditing activities, how and when to present its observations, and what publicity to give to its reports and opinions.
It has approximately 760 qualified staff, of whom about 250 are auditors. The auditors are divided into "audit groups". They prepare draft reports on which the Court takes decisions.
The auditors frequently go on tours of inspection to the other EU institutions, the member states and any country that receives aid from the EU. Indeed, although the Court's work largely concerns money for which the Commission is responsible, in practice 90% of this income and expenditure is managed by the national authorities.
The Court of Auditors has no legal powers of its own. If auditors discover fraud or irregularities they pass the information as quickly as possible to the EU bodies responsible, so they can take the appropriate action. For eleven years in a row the European Court of auditors has refused to sign off the EU accounts, stating that they cannot verify the location of 65% of EU funds, although independent financial experts place the figure at 93.4%. A large amount of the endemic fraud in the EU comes from CAP with funds disappearing in the Balkans and Russia.The court suggested that EU staff were abusing the disability system on a large scale, costing taxpayers £54 million a year. Half the claimants had psychological or stress-related complaints. A court official said: "These are not coal miners or deep-sea fishermen. It's not normal for so many to retire for ill-health."
Some paragraphs from EUROPA — European Union institutions and other bodies — The European Court of Auditors; the information on the EUROPA site is subject to a disclaimer and a copyright notice. As a general rule and unless otherwise indicated, the information available on the site may be reproduced on condition that the source is acknowledged. 
- European Court of Auditors — official site
- Article on EUABC