Discharge is the final approval of the EU budget for a given year (following the audit and finalisation of the annual accounts).
It is granted by Parliament on a recommendation from the Council. Discharge equates to approval of how the Commission implemented the budget in that financial year and the closure of that budget.
The decision is based on a review of the annual accounts, the Court of Auditors' annual report (including its official statement of assurance) and the Commission's responses (answering specific questions and providing further information requested).
The discharge is the political element of the external control of budget implementation as it represents oversight by the European Parliament and EU Council.
The procedure ends in either the granting, postponement or refusal of the discharge.
When granting discharge, the Parliament may recommend that the Commission take action on certain matters. The Commission lays out its response in a follow-up report and action plan, which it sends to the Parliament and Council.
To have a look at the annual accounts of the EU (classified by budget year), go to the section "Documents" of this site: