Clean bill of health for all but one of the 41 EU agencies, say Auditors

The European Court of Auditors has signed off the 2017 accounts of the European Union’s 41 agencies and issued clean opinions on the revenues underlying the agencies’ accounts. 

As regards the underlying payments, they also issued a clean opinion for all the agencies except one – the European Asylum Support Office – where they identified a number of issues. The EU agencies carry out specific technical, scientific or managerial tasks that help the EU institutions design and implement policies.

The EU agencies are located across Europe and employ some 10,000 staff. 

The total 2017 budget of all the EU agencies except the Single Resolution Board (SRB) amounted to €3.5 billion, which is equivalent to about 2.7% of the total EU budget. The SRB’s 2017 budget was €6.6 billion, funded through contributions from credit institutions.

The EU agencies form an important part of the EU institutional landscape and bring Europe closer to its citizens and businesses. Our audit for 2017 confirmed the positive results reported in previous years. 

Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement, mainly in the area of sound financial management,” said Rimantas Šadžiusthe Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the annual audits of the agencies.

While the Court issued clean audit opinions for all other agencies, it issued an adverse audit opinion on the payments underlying the accounts of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). 

The auditors draw attention to the critical staffing situation at EASO, which they say has deteriorated exponentially and poses a significant risk to the Office’s operations. 

They note that EASO payments have systematically breached the regulations, reflecting inadequate internal controls, mainly in relation to public procurement and recruitment procedures. For the other agencies, the number of observations on the legality and regularity of payments have decreased on previous years, which the auditors say illustrates the agencies’ continued efforts to comply with the legal framework, particularly the Financial and Staff Regulations.

The two London-based agencies, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA), will leave the UK in 2019. The auditors discuss the implications of the two agencies’ current lease arrangements in London and possible decreases in revenue following the UK’s departure from the EU.

For the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the SRB, which are (partly) self-financing, the auditors emphasise the risk of fee miscalculation under their current control frameworks.

In relation to sound financial management, the agencies have made good progress in their migration to compatible IT systems, an issue that the auditors had addressed in last year’s audit. They have likewise made good progress in introducing electronic procurement, aimed at increasing efficiency and transparency. For 14 agencies, however, the auditors identified weaknesses in the management of some public procurement procedures, questioning whether they deliver best value for money.

The 41 EU agencies carry out specific technical, scientific or managerial tasks that help the EU institutions design and implement policies. 

They have significant influence on policy and decision-making and programme implementation in areas such as health, safety, security, freedom and justice.

The 32 decentralised agencies play an important role in preparing and implementing EU policies, especially for tasks of a technical, scientific, operational and/or regulatory nature. 

The six Commission executive agencies are entrusted with executive and operational tasks relating to one or more EU programmes and are set up for a fixed period. 

The European Institute of Innovation & Technology pools scientific, business and education resources to boost the EU's innovation capacity by providing grants. 

The Euratom supply agency supports the aims of the European Atomic Energy Community Treaty. The Single Resolution Board (SRB) ensures the orderly resolution of failing banks, with as little impact as possible on the real economy and public finances.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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