Every year, this Committee meets to bring together the Heads of the European Union SAIs and the President of the European Court of Auditors, as well as the Heads of the SAIs of candidate, or potential candidate, countries. In 2010, for the first time, the Contact Committee, hosted by the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg, was chaired by the First President of the French Court of Auditors, Didier Migaud, in close collaboration with the President of the European Court of Auditors, Vítor Caldeira. By means of this arrangement, a "troika" of the three presidents responsible for preparing the Committees was thus maintained, as the 2011 Committee will again be held in Luxembourg.
As has become the custom over the last few years, the meeting opened with a seminar, devoted this year to the roles of the national Parliaments since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Several guest speakers provided information on the various historical, legal, institutional or political aspects of this question: Jean Laporte, the Director of the European Affairs department of the French Senate, Colette Flesch, a former Luxembourg Foreign Minister and former Member of the Luxembourg and European Parliaments, and Edward Leigh, a member of the UK House of Commons and former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. Presidents Tuomas Pöysti, of the Finnish NAO, Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins, of the Portuguese Court of Auditors and Jacek Jezierski, of the Polish Supreme Audit Office, also attended.
The national Parliaments, which were empowered under the Lisbon Treaty to scrutinise compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, play an increasingly active role in EU affairs. The management and scrutiny of European funds, however, are still only of minor importance in public discussions, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the country concerned.
The reform of the Financial Regulation also gave rise to some discussion on developments in auditing, in the presence of Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta, who is responsible for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud. The debate was at times heated, and dealt in particular with the notion of a tolerable risk of error.
The Committee also had the opportunity to exchange experiences on audits of EU funds, with two presentations from the SAIs of Denmark and the Netherlands.
As regards the activities of the Committee and its working groups, several significant steps should be noted: an in-depth examination of the governance of the Committee, resulting from a survey among the Presidents, led to its activities being refocused on EU issues and debates; the Working Group on Common Auditing Standards presented its final report; and, lastly, two new activities were launched, led by the SAIs of the Netherlands and Latvia.
In all these areas, the Liaison Officers will be responsible for following up on the Committee's decisions and facilitating their implementation.