Possibly the least known of the EU’s institutions, the Court of Auditors, has nonetheless an influential and important role.
As the previous text mentioned, the Court of Auditors provides financial oversight for all revenue and expenditure aspects of the EU. Perhaps its greatest responsibility and the most politically significant is the Court’s oversight of the Commission’s handling of its budget. The Court of Auditors’ annual report on the Commission’s financial practices carries significant weight when the Parliament is called upon to ‘discharge’ (effectively to approve) the Commission’s management of the previous year’s budget.
The most dramatic example of this influence was in the late 1990s, when the Court’s heavy criticism of the Santer Commission’s handling of the 1996 and 1997 budgets contributed significantly to the pressure that led to the Santer Commission’s eventual resignation in 1999.
To read a newspaper article commenting on the resignation of the Santer Commission from the time click here.