The ECA’s ethics are based on the values of independence, integrity, impartiality, professionalism, added value, excellence and efficiency. They apply to all ECA Members and staff.
The ECA’s mission is to serve the EU’s citizens and to be recognised for its integrity and impartiality. The ECA is an objective, independent and professional institution in which its stakeholders can have full confidence.
The ECA selects its audit topics impartially and performs audits taking into account the priorities of its stakeholders, but without receiving
instructions or succumbing to pressure from any outside source.
The ECA has adopted the requirements set out in the INTOSAI Code of Ethics (ISSAI 130) and has included them in its ethical guidelines. These guidelines are intended to help ensure that the ECA’s daily decisions, both in auditing and in running the institution, comply with the principles laid down in the INTOSAI Code. They are based on the ECA’s values and apply to all ECA Members and staff.
Code of Conduct for ECA Members
ECA Members are subject to a code of conduct governing their independence, impartiality, integrity, commitment, collegiality, confidentiality, responsibility and obligations after leaving office.
The ECA publishes the declarations of interests and the absence of conflicts of interest of its Members on the organisation chart.
Peer review of the ECA’s ethical framework
A peer review of the ECA’s ethical framework was carried out by the supreme audit institutions of Poland and Croatia, both of which are experienced in the field. The aim was to provide an opinion on whether the ECA’s ethical framework was well established, but also to identify possible areas for improvement.
The results were presented in January 2020. The
report concluded that the ECA had established sound standards, particularly with its ethical guidelines for all staff and the code of conduct for its Members. It also found that the ECA had developed appropriate procedures for enforcing the ethical framework, and that staff were generally aware of ethical requirements.
The peer review team did, however, make specific recommendations for an even clearer, more coherent and continually improving ethical framework at the ECA.
The Ethics Committee is composed of three people appointed on the basis of a proposal by the President for a term of three years (with the possibility of one renewal): two ECA Members who do not engage in any outside activities and a leading figure from outside the ECA.
The Ethics Committee discusses any matters of an ethical nature that it considers to be relevant to the ECA’s standards and reputation, including assessing the outside activities of its Members.
Joëlle Elvinger, ECA Member
Melchior Wathelet, former Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union
Rimantas Šadžius, ECA Member
Leo Brincat, ECA Member
Maria Eugénia Martins de Nazaré Ribeiro, former Judge at the General Court
The Secretary-General appoints ethics advisers from among the ECA staff.
Any member of staff has the right and opportunity to seek confidential and impartial advice from these advisers with regard to the following:
the values and principles that are expected of staff (e.g. independence, integrity, impartiality, professionalism);
specific sensitive matters, such as actual or apparent conflicts of interest, acceptance of gifts, etc.;
providing information in the event of serious irregularities (whistleblowing).
Gifts and hospitality
The ECA’s Members may not accept gifts worth more than 150 euros. If, by virtue of diplomatic custom, they receive gifts that are worth more than this amount, they must hand them over to the Secretary General. The Court’s secretariat must keep a register of gifts with a value of more than 150 euros, which must be made publicly available if requested. ECA Members may not accept payment for any form for outside activities or publications made during their terms of office. Should a payment be made, it must be donated to a charity of their choice.
ECA staff may not accept gifts, favours such as meals and accommodation, or any other advantage with a pecuniary value of more than 150 euros offered by third parties.
Inventory of gifts received by the European Court of Auditors since 2007 and available in the Court's Secretariat
Occupational activities of senior officials after leaving the service
Under Article 16 of the Staff Regulations, after leaving the service officials continue to be bound by the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance of certain appointments or benefits. Any former officials who intend to engage in an occupational activity within two years of leaving the service must inform their former institution, so that it can decide whether to forbid it or grant approval (subject to restrictions, where appropriate).
The third paragraph of Article 16 of the Staff Regulations stipulates that, in principle, the Appointing Authority will prohibit former senior officials, during the 12 months after leaving the service, from engaging in lobbying or advocacy vis-à-vis staff of their former institution for their business, clients or employers on matters for which they were responsible during their last three years in the service.
The fourth paragraph of Article 16 of the Staff Regulations requires each institution, in compliance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council, to publish information annually on the implementation of the third paragraph, including a list of the cases assessed.
Information on the occupational activities of senior ECA officials after leaving the service is presented below:
In 2019, three former senior officials left the ECA, one of whom declared his intention to engage in occupational activities. Since this official had left the Court in 2019, his request for authorisation was duly submitted within 12 months of leaving the service. Since the declared occupational activity did not involve lobbying or advocacy vis-à-vis Court staff, the Appointing Authority saw no reason to forbid or limit its performance in accordance with Article 16 of the Staff Regulations.
For further details, please refer to the
Communication on the publication of information concerning the occupational activities of senior officials after leaving the service (Paragraphs three and four of Article 16 of the Staff Regulations) – 2019 Annual Report.