Court of Auditors

Annual report concerning the financial year 1996,

together with the institutions' replies

97/C 348/01

Note: This report consists of 2 volumes.

FOREWORD

1. The Annual Report of the Court of Auditors forms part of the discharge procedure (Article 206 of the EC Treaty and Article 89 of the Financial Regulation). The follow-up given to the observations contained in the report is the responsibility of the European Parliament, which, taking into account the Council's recommendation, takes a decision as discharge authority. The Commission is required to draw up a report on the measures taken in response to the comments appearing in the resolutions of the European Parliament accompanying the discharge decision and on the follow-up to the comments accompanying the Council's recommendation on the discharge.

2. This 20th Annual Report (on the financial year 1996) of the European Court of Auditors consists of two volumes. The first volume concerns activities financed from the general budget, the Sixth and Seventh European Development Funds, and the financial instruments and banking activities. It contains the observations arising from the examination of the revenue and expenditure, in particular as regards sound financial management. The second volume contains the Statements of Assurance (DAS) in respect of the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying operations, firstly the DAS concerning activities financed from the general budget and secondly the DAS concerning the activities of the Sixth and Seventh European Development Funds which the Court supplies to the Parliament and the Council, together with the related observations.

3. There is a general introduction relating to Volumes I and II at the beginning of the first volume. Each chapter is followed by the corresponding replies of the institutions.

4. The Court drew up its report following an examination of the replies sent by the institutions. Where, in the light of these replies, the Court considered that explanations should be given to facilitate the reader's understanding of the problems, they have been incorporated in the corresponding paragraph of the report. The fact that the Court has not made any comments on the institutions' replies does not, however, imply tacit agreement with the contents of these replies.

5. The diagrams, the background information on the general budget and the key to the main abbreviations may be found in Annex II at the end of the report (Volume II).

6. The references to the Official Journals in which the Annual Reports in respect of previous financial years were published are :

- 1991: OJ C 330, 15.12.1992 - 1994: OJ C 303, 14.11.1995
- 1992: OJ C 309, 16.11.1993 - 1995: OJ C 340, 12.11.1995
- 1993: OJ C 327, 24.11.1994  

7. Unless otherwise stated, the observations set out in this report are based on the Financial Regulation of 21 December 1977 applicable to the general budget of the European Communities (OJ L 356, 31.12.1977) as last amended by Council Regulation (EC, Euratom, ECSC) No 2335/95 of 18 September 1995 (OJ L 240, 7.10.1995, p. 12).