Glossary

Most of these definitions are taken from the EU Glossary and from the publication How the European Union works.


Budget         Annual financial plan, drawn up according to budgetary principles, that provides forecasts and authorises, for each financial year, an estimate of future costs and revenue and expenditures and their detailed description and justification. In the EU, it takes the form of a regulation.

Budget Data        Information used in the budgetary cycle - including planning, revenues and expenditures.

Ceiling        Limits of expenditure or revenue fixed by law or by regulation such as in the own resources decision or in the multiannual financial framework.

Commitment        Legal pledges to provide finance, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled.

Consent Procedure        Through this procedure, the Council has to obtain the European Parliament’s assent before certain decisions are taken. The Parliament may accept or reject the Council proposal but cannot amend it.

Council        The institution where ministers of EU Member States meet to discuss EU matters, take decisions and pass laws. Which ministers attend which council meeting depends on the subject on the agenda. The Council adopts the budget jointly with the European Parliament. It should not be confused with the European Council, which brings together Heads of States or Governments.

Discharge (Granting Discharge)        The decision by which the European Parliament, on the basis of the recommendation from the Council and the declaration of assurance provided by the European Court of Auditors, closes the life of an annual budget exercise.

European Commission        Politically independent executive arm of the European Union that proposes legislation, policies and programmes of actions and is responsible for implementing the decisions of the European Parliament and of the Council.

European Court of Auditors        Independent external audit institution of the European Union. It checks that the EU budget is correctly implemented.

European Parliament        Directly elected legislative arm of the European Union. It shares authority with the Council over the budget. At the end of the budget procedure, it adopts or rejects the budget in its entirety (“discharge”).

Financial Transparency System        Database of beneficiaries of grants and other aids paid out each year by the European Commission.

Fiscal Transparency        The International Monetary Fund (IMF) defines fiscal transparency as the comprehensiveness, clarity, reliability, timeliness, and relevance of public reporting on the past, present, and future state of public finances.

Grants        Direct financial contributions, by way of donations, from the budget in order to finance either an action intended to help achieve an objective part of a EU policy or the functioning of a body which pursues an aim of general European interest or has an objective forming part of a EU policy.

Headings        In the Multiannual Financial Framework, they are groups of EU activities in broad categories of expenditure.


Multiannual Financial Framework        Multiannual spending plan that translates into financial terms the EU policy priorities. It sets (a) limits on EU expenditure over a fixed period and thus imposes budgetary discipline; (b) annual maximum amounts (ceilings) of commitments for the main categories of expenditures (headings) and an overall payments ceilings.

Open Data        Data is considered to be open if anyone can freely use, reuse and redistribute them, for any purpose, without restrictions (as per OpenDefinition.org). This includes being both technically open - the data can be downloaded online in open formats and read by software - and legally open - users have a legal right to reuse the data.

Open Budget Data        Public financial information used in the budget cycle that is freely available in a machine-­readable format to use, modify and share (as per opendefinition.org).

Open Spending Data        Information about public expenditure that is freely available in a machine­-readable format to use, modify and share (as per opendefinition.org)

Open Fiscal Data        Information about public finance that is freely available in a machine-­readable format to use, modify and share (as per opendefinition.org).

Ordinary Legislative Procedure        Main legislative procedure by which directives and regulations are adopted. It gives an equal weight to the European Parliament and to the Councilin the decision procedure.

Own Resources        Revenue flowing automatically to the European Union budget, pursuant to the Treaties and implementing legislation, without the need for any subsequent decision by national authorities.

Payment        Cash or bank transfer to the beneficiaries.

Regulation        Normative act, of general application, binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all EU Member States.

Spending Data        Spending data is information about public expenditures - and crucially includes transaction level data, e.g. data about individual financial transactions. Ideally spending data should contain information on amount, payer, beneficiary, date and purpose of the transaction (e.g. a project or service).

Sugar Levies        Mainly customs duties on imports of certain agricultural products from non-EU countries as well as levies paid by producers on sugar, isoglucose and insulin syrup.