In turbulent times, citizens expect their political and governmental institutions to act responsible and to provide stability and security. With numerous problems arising from climate change, the UK's departure from the EU, looming economic slowdown, the influx of migrants and ongoing wars in neighbouring countries, the EU's citizens have enough to worry about. EU institutions are expected to address these issues, showing their capacity to deliver, and all the while protecting the Union's fundamental freedoms and core values. Another important element in this mix is scrutiny, which is an essential ingredient to foster trust amongst citizens. This year, following the elections of the European Parliament and new European Commission, coupled with a change in the leadership of the European Council and Central Bank, the EU finds itself in a new political environment.
This ECA Journal looks at how this new political environment can make use of audit information and assessments provided by auditors in general and, more specifically, the ECA. How does such political change affect the Union's external auditor? How does it acquaint and promote itself with all the new people that have taken a seat on the other side of the table? Contributors to the Journal seek answers to additional questions such as: how can a newly elected Member of the EP benefit from the quality information the ECA is providing; what do the changes mean for the focal points of the EP and its Budgetary Control Committee; how important are these changes for continuity and innovation in EU policies; how important and relevant are (EU) budgets; and what is the outlook for the EU's financial and economic governance?
11 A pretence of a budget, a pretence of a union – By Jean Arthuis, former chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Budgets
20 Surfacing the unused potential in the EU – Interview with Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium
32 Promoting evidence-based decision making in the political process – Interview with ECA President Klaus-Heiner Lehne
40 ECA's work on financial and economic governance - connecting expert views and citizens' concerns – By Kamila Lepkowska of the ECA's Regulation of Markets and Competitive Economy' Directorate
64 A determined CONT, counting on the in-depth knowledge of the ECA – Interview with Monika Hohlmeier, MEP and chair of the EP Budgetary Control Committee
85 Money is not the main issue at times of crisis – Interview with Klaus Regling, Managing Director of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM)
97 ECA Journal Long Read – In praise of the budget - By Arūnas Dulkys, Auditor General, National Audit Office of Lithuania
In addition to these must-reads, this ECA Journal features interviews with Olivier Chastel, Member of the European Parliament; ECA Members Rimantas Šadžius, Hannu Takkula, Annemie Turtelboom and Ivana Maletić; and Florence Gaub, Deputy Director of the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS).
Other views on the new EU political environment are set out in articles from Maria Demertzis, Deputy Director at Bruegel reporting on Europe's challenges in the next 5 years; Jim Cloos, Deputy Director-General, Council of the European Union on the European Council's Strategic Agenda for the 2019-2024 period; Kaisa Männistö from the Permanent Representation of Finland to the European Union on the Council's transparency; Bianca Brétéché and Alastair Swarbrick from SIGMA in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on the working relationships between parliaments and supreme audit institutions; ECA Member Annemie Turtelboom on public consultations carried out by the European Commission; and Friso Coppes and Astrid Smeets from Bureau Brussels on the work of public affairs advisors in Brussels;
Furthermore, this ECA Journal covers the new European Commission; lessons to be learnt from the past for the new Multiannual Financial Framework; the audit of the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure as an example of good practice; the ECA awareness campaign for new MEPs; the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee; the recently launched ECA Publications Portal; and the European Union's core values.