ECA: GNI-based payments to EU budget - auditors call for more focused checks

GNI (gross national income) data is an important basis for calculating Member States’ contributions to the EU budget. The verification of this data is not sufficiently focused, according to a new report by the European Court of Auditors. Although Eurostat (the EU’s statistical office) was effective overall in identifying and addressing high-risk issues for GNI data compilation, it did not systematically check high-risk issues and countries in the highest risk category first, and did not always conduct those checks early enough. For example, Eurostat did not react promptly to the issue of multinationals relocating their businesses for tax purposes.

EU countries’ GNI-based contributions constitute the EU budget’s largest income source. In 2021, they amounted to €116 billion, about two thirds of the budget. Eurostat checks the quality of EU countries’ GNI data in multi-annual cycles, and can ask them to adjust their initial estimates – which are the basis for the Commission’ calculation of their contributions – upwards or downwards. The auditors checked whether Eurostat managed its verifications well during the latest 2016-2019 cycle.

It is important to ensure that the EU countries’ GNI-based contributions to the EU budget are fair and predictable,” said Marek Opioła, the ECA member who led the audit. “For verifications to be effective and efficient, cross-cutting issues and countries with the highest risk factor should be in Eurostat’s priority lane for checks.

Read the Special report of The European Court of Auditors in its entirety here