In 2021, the European Parliament is expected to take a discharge decision on the 2019 financial year. In June 2020, the European Commission launched the procedure with the publication of the annual accounts for the year 2019. By the end of January 2021, the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee (CONT) had closed the hearings stage with respective commissioners and representatives of EU institutions and bodies (stage C). In February, the members of the CONT committee will discuss the draft reports. Based on the reports, and after receiving the Council recommendation on the discharge, the European Parliament will take its decision by 15 May 2020 at the latest (stage D). According to the timetable for the procedure for the year 2019, most likely the decision will be taken at Parliament’s April 2021 plenary session.
The European Parliament will also carry out the next discharge procedure in 2021, covering the 2020 budgetary year. The procedure will begin with the publication of the accounts and series of budgetary reports and evaluations by the European Commission. Following this stage, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) will present its annual report with the statement of assurance (DAS) on the implementation of the 2020 financial year.
The possibility to accelerate the discharge procedure and close it within the year following the accounting year in question (n+1) is a longstanding demand of the CONT committee. However, the revision of the EU’s Financial Regulation adopted in July 2018 did not introduce any significant changes that could shorten the time lag between the implementation of the budget and its political scrutiny.