The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most disruptive health crises the world has ever experienced; it has had, and continues to have, a major impact on societies, economies and individuals everywhere. What started as a health crisis quickly developed into a socio-economic crisis, triggered by efforts to contain the spreading virus and save lives, and which has affected nearly every area of public and private life.

Impact and response

The pandemic has had a massive and highly disruptive impact on the EU overall, and on its individual Member States. Its development has, however, been asymmetrical and the timeframe has varied greatly across the EU. COVID-19 poses a threat to the lives of EU citizens and, among other things, has increased the burden on Member States’ public health systems. It has also led to a sudden reversal in economic growth.

In most areas severely affected by the pandemic, the EU only has limited competence to act. This is partly because public health is primarily a matter of national sovereignty, and partly because there was little prior preparedness or consensus among Member States on a common response to the crisis. This lack of coordinated approach led to governments often acting independently when putting in place prevention and containment measures, procuring equipment or setting up recovery packages and job retention schemes with a view to mitigating the socio-economic fall-out.

However, following a bumpy start, the EU and its Member States seem to have improved their cooperation efforts to temper the socio-economic effects of the pandemic. With the NextGenerationEU recovery instrument, they have not only displayed a great deal of solidarity, but also ventured into uncharted territory to tackle the long-term challenges of the pandemic. At the same time, however, there is little doubt that COVID-19 will have a long-lasting impact on the way we live and work, including the need for more and better cooperation, since viruses do not observe national borders.

EU SAIs’ response

Among its many impacts, the crisis has also considerably affected the work of supreme audit institutions (SAIs) around the world, and the Contact Committee’s member SAIs are no exception. They reacted quickly to the developing crisis and decided to allocate substantial resources – both immediately and in the years ahead – to assessing and auditing the response to COVID-19. In 2020 and 2021, they published over 150 reports, while more than 200 other audit activities are still ongoing or planned, and are due to be completed in 2022 or 2023.


In July 2021, the Contact Committee published the Audit Compendium on the response to COVID-19. It describes the impact of the pandemic and provides an overview of the various measures taken in response, and contains summaries of 17 relevant reports published in 2020 by the SAIs of Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and the European Court of Auditors.

Further information

For further reading and regularly updated information, you may wish to consult the following websites: