The Court of Audit in a nutshell

Belgium has a federal state structure, with numerous competences and budgets transferred over the last decades to the “communities and regions”, as the federated entities are called in Belgium.

The Court of Audit carries out external audits of the revenue and expenditure of the Federal State, the communities and regions, the public agencies depending on the Federal State and the federated entities, and the provinces. The Court does not audit the municipalities.

The Court is a collateral body of the Federal Parliament (House of Representatives), from which it receives its annual funding.

Every week the Court meets in sessions of the General Assembly, the French-speaking Chamber and the Dutch-speaking Chamber. The audit proceedings are divided among these colleges according to the level of power audited:

  • Federal State, Brussels Capital Region and German-speaking Community

General Assembly

  • Flemish Community, Flemish Region and Flemish provinces

Dutch-speaking Chamber

  • French Community, Walloon Region, Walloon provinces

French-speaking Chamber

At Court staff level, there are Dutch-speaking and French-speaking members of staff (+-/500, equalling 460 FTE), belonging to eight directorates that audit either the Federal State or the federated entities. There are also two transversal directorates supporting the operational directorates

The Court’s premises are located in Brussels, but it carries out its audits in the services and agencies of all levels of power. In fact, the audit work of the Court’s staff is based on the collaboration of the administrations concerned.

The audit reports are submitted to the Federal Parliament or the Parliament of the competent Federated entity. Depending on the audit type, the Court of Audit formulates its comments, opinions or audit conclusions as well as recommendations, based on:

  • financial audits;

  • legality and regularity audits;

  • audits of the sound use of public funds, i.e. performance audits;

  • budget analyses: as budgetary advisor to Parliaments, the Court of Audit analyses the draft budgets submitted by governments to the legislative assemblies. The Court provides comments to the legislative assemblies before they adopt the draft budgets.

The Court of Audit is also entrusted with a jurisdictional task towards federal and regional accounting officers responsible for the handling of public funds whose accounts are in deficit and who are summoned before the Court by the competent Ministers.

Moreover, the Court of Audit carries out a growing number of specific assignments, in particular:

  • regarding the allocation of public resources among the Federal State and the Federated entities;

  • relating to transparency rules imposed on political parties (e.g. the campaign spending), political representatives and senior officials;

  • concerning expert support to Parliaments.

Evolution of the competences and assignments of the Court of Audit over the last decades

Especially since 1995 the Belgian Court of Audit has been charged with a growing number of special assignments, next to its main assignments that have also been extended. The new assignments can be related mainly to three axes:

  • updating and completing the general audit remit of the Court;

  • the evolution towards further autonomy of the Federated entities in Belgium;

  • transposition of new EU law concerning Member States’ public sector accounts.

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