The Commission Internal Audit Service (IAS) is part of the internal audit system for the European Commission and EU agencies. It provides independent, objective assurance and consulting services designed to add value and improve the operations of the Commission.
The European Court of Auditors is the EU's external auditor. It audits each year the EU accounts, revenue and spending, and then issues an assessment ("statement of assurance") on the accounts, as well as on the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions. These assessments are published in the European Court of Auditors' Annual reports.
The annual accounts have been given a clean bill of health from the auditors for the past 11 years, meaning that the auditors considered them as being reliable and giving a true and fair view.
Revenue also receives a positive assessment. The auditors have found that payments from the EU budget are affected by a level of error above the materiality threshold of 2% but this level of error has been significantly reduced in recent years. For 2017, more than half of EU spending was below the 2% threshold, and the European Court of Auditors confirmed its qualified opinion, rather than an adverse one, on the legality and regularity of payments.
These errors do not mean fraud or lost funds. When errors are detected, the money must be recovered or the amounts corrected (e.g. redirected to another project).
In addition to the annual reports, the European Court of Auditors also publishes special reports, where the auditors tend to focus on the performance of policies, e.g. do the EU funds provide value for money or have spending or policy objectives been met?
The Court may also provide opinions on legislative proposals or publish other descriptive or analytical documents such as landscape reviews or briefing papers, which however do not stem from audit activities.
The European Court of Auditors' publications are available on the Audit reports and opinions page.
In November 2021, the European Commission, the European Court of Auditors and the European Investment Bank have signed a renewed Tripartite Agreement. The revised agreement replaces the one from 26 September 2016. It governs the ECA’s access to documents and information held by the EIB in order to carry out its audits of operations funded or guaranteed by the EU budget and managed by the EIB.