Discharge procedure: how Parliament scrutinises the EU budget

AGORA moderator's picture

MEPs scrutinise how money has been spent by the European Commission and the other EU institutions and agencies in a procedure known as discharge. Over the years, the procedure has become a very important tool to check how public funds have been spent and EU projects carried out. The European Parliament has the exclusive right to approve the budget implementation of the EU institutions. On 28 April MEPs debate and vote on the discharge of the 2013 annual budget. Read on to find out more.

What is the discharge procedure?

It is the European Parliament's final approval of how the EU budget for a specific year has been implemented.

The Parliament considers the reports by Parliament's budgetary control committee, taking into account the Council's recommendation and decides to grant, postpone or refuse a discharge.

If granted, the accounts of a given year are closed and approved.

What happens when the Parliament refuses or postpones discharge?

If the accounts of an institution or an agency are not cleared, the organisation involved must act on the recommendations of the budgetary control committee before seeking discharge again.

Can Parliament’s approval of accounts be taken for granted?

Over the years the Parliament has refused to grant discharge to various EU agencies and bodies, including to the European Commission twice, in 1984 (for financial year 1982) and in 1998 (for financial year 1996).

in 1998, when the Parliament refused discharge to the European Commission led by Jacques Santer, it ultimately led to the resignation of the Commission.

Which institutions need to get approval from the European Parliament?

All EU institutions, including the European Commission, Parliament itself, European Council, Council of the EU and other agencies, bodies and joint undertakings. In total MEPs will vote on 52 reports during the plenary.

This year for the fifth consecutive time, and this time unanimously, the budgetary control committee has recommended that the Parliament postpones granting a discharge to the Council and the European Council on grounds of failure to cooperate with the Parliament in supplying the information it needs.

How long does it take for the procedure to be completed?

The procedure that is being finalised now concerns the 2013 budget. As part of the budgetary discharge procedure, the budgetary control committee takes into account the opinion of the EU Court of Auditors and discusses it with commissioners and other senior EU officials.

SOURCE: European Parliament News, 28/04/2015, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20150427STO46470...