04 Jul 2006

The Responsibility for Implementing the Community Budget

Gabriele Cipriani

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Responsibility for the implementation of the Community budget is entrusted by the EC Treaty to the European Commission exclusively. However, by virtue of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, approximately 80% of the total expenditure (agricultural spending and spending on structural aid) is managed, in various guises, by member state administrations. The application of the above-mentioned principles to the Community budget has given rise to a complicated panoply of levels of decision-making, which has not resulted in a clear indication of who is responsible for what. In fact, the Commission’s reluctance to accept final responsibility for the implementation of the budget is not compensated for by a corresponding acceptance of responsibility by the member states. The consequence is an ambiguous situation that has endangered the whole principle of the accountability of those responsible for the management of the budget to the European taxpayer. The full application of that principle ought to be one of the criteria that determine decisions to finance particular measures from the Community budget. There is in fact no valid reason why the implementation of the Community budget should be exempt from one of the fundamental principles of public finance.