In this section you will find answers to the questions, classified into three main categories: the role of the HCFP, the members of the HCFP and the functioning of the HCFP.
Why create a new authority to oversee public finances?
The creation of an "independent fiscal institution", responsible for the supervision of public finances, is a European commitment of France.
The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (TSCG), ratified by France on 22 October 2012, requires Member States to set up institutions at national level to monitor compliance with budgetary rules, in particular in terms of reducing the structural deficit.
The High Council of Public Finance complements the budgetary surveillance tasks carried out by the Court of Auditors by providing ex ante opinions on draft public finance texts (programming laws, finance laws, stability programmes) and by providing new expertise in analysing macroeconomic forecasts and monitoring compliance with the structural deficit path.
The Court of Audit continues to carry out its tasks of monitoring the implementation of the Finance and Social Security Financing Acts, certifying the State accounts and the general social security system and analysing the situation and prospects of public finances.
- Is it an organization specific to France?
No. Almost all EU Member States (with the exception of Poland) have set up independent budget insitutions in different forms. In some countries, the tasks defined by the 2012 Treaty are carried out by pre-existing institutions. This is the case in the Netherlands (Central Planning Bureau, 1947), Sweden (Fiscal Policy Council, 2007) or the United Kingdom (Office for Budget Responsibility, 2010). In other countries, new institutions have been created to strengthen internal fiscal surveillance mechanisms.
- Why is the HCFP placed with the Court of Auditors?
According to the European Commission, the Court of Auditors already performed several of the functions of an independent budgetary institution: ex post control of the execution of the State budget and social security, examination of the situation and outlook of public finances, certification of the State accounts and of the general social security system. However, it does not deliver ex ante opinions on draft texts relating to public finances and is not competent to assess the realism of macroeconomic forecasts. The tasks entrusted to the High Council are complementary to those already carried out by the Court. To ensure greater consistency in the monitoring of public finances, the legislator wished to place the HCFP with the Court of Auditors.
- Can HCFP make fiscal policy recommendations to the Government?
No. The HCFP issues opinions within the framework defined by the Organic Law of 17 December 2012. These opinions are not binding on the Government. It is the Government and Parliament that conduct France's fiscal policy. In the case of a significant deviation from the multi-year path of public finances, as noted by the HCFP in its opinion on the draft regulation, the Government will nevertheless take corrective measures within the framework of the correction mechanism.
- Are HCFP members paid?
Members are not paid for the activities they perform within the HCFP.
- Why do HCFP members have to complete a declaration of interests?
The Organic Law of 17 December 2012 provides that the members of the High Council of Public Finance shall, at the time of their appointment, submit a declaration of interests to the First President of the Court of Auditors. This system makes it possible to prevent possible conflicts of interests. These statements are published on the HCFP website.
- Who works for the HCFP?
The HCFP consists of a permanent secretariat headed by a general rapporteur, assisted by an assistant general rapporteur. For the exercise of its missions, the HCFP benefits from the expertise of rapporteurs specialising in macroeconomics and public finance. It may also call upon persons or organizations outside the administration.
- Can HCFP use external expertise?
The HCFP may call on external bodies or personalities, in particular to assess the prospects for revenue, expenditure, balance and debt of general government and each of their sub-sectors, but also on macroeconomic issues.