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Trapped between Subsidiarity and Loyal Cooperation? A Legal Perspective into the European Court of Auditors' Audit Powers in Member States

Maria Luisa Sanchez Barrueco

Drawing on the scope of the investigation powers of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) as regards Member States and its limitations, this paper exposes that the legal remedies provided by EU primary law are ill-adapted to the ECA's need to defend its prerogatives and explores possible ways to fix the current situation. The rationale behind the conferral of the institution status to the Court is first assessed as a means to strengthen the Court's independence vis-agrave;-vis the auditees and a complementary way to improve the EU's legitimacy through better accountability. Although performance in this regard is usually hampered by an insufficient definition of the limits between the principle of Member States' loyal cooperation with the Court and the subsidiarity principle as applied to audits over national implementation of EU funds, the Court has recently been conforted in its audit powers by the ECJ and other core institutions (C-539/2009, Commission vs. Germany). All in all, the paper proposes a revision of the Court's legal standing before the ECJ, with a view to provide it with effective judicial protection of its audit powers.

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