The Commission uses a dual accounting system that includes:
The general accounts provide a picture of the EU budget's assets and liabilities because they are maintained using the accrual accounting principle: therefore, transactions are registered when they are incurred, not necessarily when cash is paid out or received.
Every year the Commission's Accounting Officer must produce the annual accounts for the EU and for the Commission.
The EU's annual accounts consist of
The consolidated EU accounts include the accounts of the European institutions and agencies.
The goal of these accounts is to provide a fair presentation of the financial situation for a given year. The annual accounts must also be clear, comprehensible and allow comparisons to be made between financial years.When are the accounts presented?
The timetable for preparing and publishing the annual accounts is laid down in the Financial Regulation:
Annual accounts of the EU (classified by budget year) in the Documents section.
By the end of March every year each Commission Directorate-General must produce an activity report for the previous financial year which includes:
The annual activity reports are examined by the Commissioners in their assessment of the Commission's financial situation. They also look at the internal auditors annual report and the documents on the operation of the internal control systems. They then prepare a summary called a 'synthesis report' detailing actions to be taken to correct any weaknesses identified.
This report is sent to the Parliament and Council, and is one of the main documents used by the European Court of Auditors to prepare its annual statement of assurance, which evaluates the EUs management of its resources.
The annual activity reports from the Commission are accessible online
The annual financial report reviews the way the budget has been spent and the results on the ground.
It contains four sections: