The purpose of financial audits in Horizon Europe is to ensure that the beneficiaries´ cost are declared and reimbursed in compliance with the rules of the programme. You can find information on audits in articles 24 and 25 of the Grant Agreement and in its Data Sheet.
For requested EU contributions of EUR 430,000 or more, the respective beneficiary is obliged to submit an audit certificate (Certificate on the financial statements, or CFS) at the end of the project. The audit must be performed by an independent and qualified external auditor (according to Directive 2006/43/EC), who certifies that the cost have been declared in accordance with the Horizon Europe rules. For public bodies, there is also the option of having the audit performed by a "competent public officer", e.g. an internal auditor, who is not involved in the preparation of the financial reports and who must be certified by a national higher authority. The costs of a mandatory CFS are eligible as project costs.
In addition, the European Commission can carry out ex-post audits in all projects up to two years after the payment of the balance. They are carried out either by auditors of the Commission itself or by mandated external audit firms. Furthermore, project audits can be carried out by the European Court of Auditors or the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). For this reason, there is an obligation to keep the project documents for a period of five years after receipt of the final payment.
The European Commission has introduced the possibility of a System and Process Audit (SPA) for institutions meeting certain requirements. Upon successful completion of such an audit of the institution´s accounting system and its processes, the frequency of ex-post audits and the threshold to submit a CFS are modified in favor of the beneficiary.