The Heads of the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of the 28 EU Member States and the European Court of Auditors (ECA) met in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 10-11 October 2013
The 2013 annual meeting of the Contact Committee of the Heads of the EU SAIs and the ECA was hosted by the National Audit Office of Lithuania on 10-11 October 2013 in Vilnius. The meeting was chaired by Ms. Giedrė Švedienė, Auditor General of Lithuania and Acting Chair of the Contact Committee. It was attended by 84 delegates from EU SAIs and the ECA, SAIs of three candidate countries (Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) and representatives of IDI, EUROSAI and SIGMA.
It was the first time that the annual meeting of the Contact Committee meeting was held in Vilnius, Lithuania, and it took place during the historical and momentous period when Lithuania was holding its first ever EU Presidency.
The meeting was opened by H.E. Mr. Valdas Adamkus, former President of the Republic of Lithuania, who congratulated the participants and expressed his belief that the leaders of the EU SAIs and the ECA will find the best solutions to improve accountability in the public sector and the execution of the tasks assigned to national audit authorities.
The main focus of the meeting was a seminar on the latest developments which included two themes: 1) the new financial framework for 2014 - 2020 and the new financial regulation – the role of SAIs in improving accountability in the EU; and 2) new economic governance – the role and tasks for SAIs.
The seminar opened with two distinguished guest speakers: Mr Algirdas Šemeta, European Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud, and Mr Michael Theurer, MEP, Chair of the Committee on Budgetary Control of the European Parliament (speech delivered by video presentation). The guest speakers shared their ideas on the major issues related to the latest developments in EU governance and accountability.
The first theme was addressed in the presentations of the ECA and several EU SAIs who shared their ideas and current experiences. It was underlined that all those involved in public financial control of the EU budget at EU, national and regional level, whether they are responsible for internal control, external audit or the political oversight, must face the challenge of trying to improve EU accountability in the coming years. It was also emphasised that new legal frameworks governing EU funds will shortly enter into force and there are some important new elements and a changing context to consider, although the main features of the current accountability arrangements will stay the same.
Concerning the second theme a number of SAIs shared their views and latest developments in addressing the issues of new economic governance in their own countries. The SAI of Finland reported on the follow-up given to the initiative endorsed by the Contact Committee in respect of collectively addressing the European Council and on the Network of Fiscal Policy Audit. The second theme also included active discussions and an exchange of ideas on the follow-up and next steps concerning the Position Paper of the Task Force on new tasks and roles for external public audit in the light of recent developments in EU economic governance.
On the second day the meeting was addressed by another prominent guest speaker, Dr. Gediminas Mesonis, Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania and Professor of the Faculty of Law of the Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania), who shared his views on the issue of SAI Independence. The presentation was very well received by the participants as drawing attention to the issue of SAIs’ independence from an academic perspective.
The Contact Committee took note of the Status Outline of activities for 2013 – the annual activity report containing information on the status and activities of the working groups, networks and task forces currently operating in the framework of the Contact Committee.
The following reports were presented to the Contact Committee on the current cooperation activities in 2013: Report of the Working Group on Structural Funds V (SAI of Germany); Report on "The Spending Review in EU Countries - Analysis of the best practices, the findings and the perspectives" (SAI of Italy); Report on the seminar on public accounting standards (SAI of France); Joint report on the coordinated audit on the enforcement of EU waste shipment legislation (SAI of the Netherlands). The SAI of Lithuania shared information on the Cooperative Audit of National Parks.
The SAI of Turkey reported on the activities of the Network of SAIs of Candidate and Potential Candidate Countries and the European Court of Auditors.
The SAI of the Netherlands reported on the progress of the preparations for the IX EUROSAI Congress, to be held from 15 to 19 June 2014 in The Hague, Netherlands, and on the first Young EUROSAI Congress (YES), scheduled from 20 to 22 November 2013 in Rotterdam.
Following the debates on the above-mentioned themes, five resolutions were adopted concerning the implementation of future strategies and addressing the new challenges for SAIs in the context of recent accountability arrangements and new economic governance developments in the EU:
Resolution on the Continuation of the Fiscal Policy Audit Network (CC-R-2013-01);
Resolution on the 2014 future activities of the EU SAIs Contact Committee (CC-R-2013-02);
Resolution on the Audit of the Working Group on Structural Funds (CC-R-2013-03);
Resolution on Public Sector Accounting Standards for European Member States (EPSAS) (CC-R-2013-04);
Resolution on the Publication of the final report of the Coordinated audit on the enforcement of the European Waste Shipment Regulation (CC-R-2013-05).
The Contact Committee also took note of the Position Paper of the Task Force on new tasks and roles for external public audit in the light of recent developments in EU economic governance and decided to reconvene the Task Force under the leadership of the Acting Chair to continue its activities and to report to the 2014 Contact Committee meeting.
The 2014 Contact Committee meeting will be held in Luxembourg on 16-17 October 2014, and will be hosted by the ECA. The 2015 Contact Committee meeting will be hosted by the SAI of Latvia and held in Riga during the Latvian EU Presidency.