MEPs give a green light to the EU’s 2016 budget management

Met dank overgenomen van Europees Parlement (EP) i, gepubliceerd op woensdag 18 april 2018.
  • Record low error rate
  • Payments backlog on the rise

MEPs approved the implementation of the EU’s 2016 budget in a series of more than 50 reports voted on Wednesday.

MEPs welcomed the decrease in errors affecting payments - according to the Court of Auditors (ECA) report, the 3.1% error rate was the lowest in the last 10 years.

Approval postponed for Asylum Support Office

However MEPs postponed granting a discharge (approval) of budget management in 2016 by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the Council and the European Council, but granted it for every other EU institution, as well as agencies, joint undertakings and the European Development Fund.

EASO is being investigated by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), and the European Court of Auditors i has previously pointed to shortcomings in EASO’s procurement procedures.

The European Council and the Council, having been denied discharge for the last seven years, yet again failed to submit the information that Parliament needs to take the decision.

Mounting payments backlog

MEPs call on the European Commission to speed up the delivery of cohesion policy programmes and related payments. Delays led to low payments in 2016 and created an all-time high of €238 billion in outstanding commitments at the end of 2016, amounting to a payments backlog of almost three years. MEPs fear that the amounts left may not suffice to fund unexpected needs that may yet arise before 2020, when the current long-term budget ends.

Calls to fix farming policies

MEPs also call on the European Commission to “fundamentally review” schemes initially introduced to encourage young people to take up farming and provide for more environmentally sustainable farming. ECA reports had revealed that “greening is unlikely to provide significant benefits (...) because greening requirements are generally undemanding and largely reflect normal farming practice”. The Court had also found that aid to young farmers was not based on a sound needs assessment and did not always go to young farmers in need.

Single heading for migration policy

To improve transparency on the funding of migration policy, MEPs ask the EU Commission to group the relevant budget lines under a single heading and for the EU’s annual budget to be presented according to EU political priorities.


Discharge is the final approval of the implementation of the budget for a specific year. The European Parliament can grant, postpone or refuse a discharge. If a discharge is postponed, Parliament may ask the institution concerned to provide it with additional information before voting on a final decision later in the year. Granting a discharge closes accounts for the relevant financial year.

Errors do not mean that money was lost or wasted. The error level is an estimate of the amount of money that should not have been paid out because it was not used in line with the applicable rules and regulations - for instance, if supporting documents were not provided.