30 Nov 2010

The EU Budget

Responsibility without accountability?

Gabriele Cipriani

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How, for what and to whom can citizens hold accountable the expenditure of some €120 billion each year by the EU budget? This book highlights three main factors that lie at the root of an accountability gap: opaque revenue arrangements making citizens unaware of their contribution, the setting of numerous and grand objectives whose vague expectations are hard to account for and, finally, the delegation of the main management to member state bodies that are not accountable at EU level.
Amidst the on-going review of the EU budget, the author argues the need to combine a definition of European added-value based on limited and achievable objectives with one single accountability framework. This should follow a political mandate given to the Commission, which would then assume the role of ’programme manager’ having both the authority over trustful delegated bodies and the legitimacy to implement the necessary measures to achieve the intended objectives.
Gabriele Cipriani is Director for Structural Policies, Energy and Transport at the European Court of Auditors.