The annual meeting of the Contact Committee was hosted and chaired by the Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic on 20-21 October 2016 in Bratislava. The meeting coincided with the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The heads of supreme audit institutions (SAIs) of Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, as well as representatives of the EUROSAI Secretariat attended the meeting as active observers.
Seminar on EU energy policy and climate
The main topic of the meeting was EU energy policy and climate. The aim was to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities arising from the implementation of the EU’s energy policy in terms of audit and accountability. The Vice-President of the European Commission (EC) Maroš Šefčovič appreciated in his video speech the European Court of Auditors’ ongoing work for the landscape review of energy and climate issues and highlighted that national SAIs are also key partners of the European Commission, since their observations and recommendations can contribute to improving financial management and good governance at national and EU level.
The SAIs of France, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, Portugal and the European Court of Auditors shared their experience and knowledge in conducting audits in this area.
The Contact Committee noted that energy and climate issues represent key strategic challenges for the EU and its Member States. These challenges warrant action by relevant EU and national authorities, as well as audit work by national SAIs and the European Court of Auditors.
The Contact Committee recognised that only by working together can SAIs most effectively address these important cross-cutting issues. Through their work, knowledge and experience, public auditors can make a relevant and constructive contribution to meeting the targets of the EU energy and climate strategy, including its targets for 2020, 2030 and the pathway to 2050, and the COP 21 Paris Climate Change Agreement, to which their Member States have committed.
The seminar of the Contact Committee on this subject showed that many SAIs had already done a significant amount of audit work on topics related to energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy security and that these topics remain of central importance to the work of SAIs. Additionally, there is potential for more work related to innovations in the field of energy, the integration of European energy markets, measuring, monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, and adapting to climate change.
The Contact Committee welcomed the willingness of SAIs to share information and audit results in the field of energy and climate, and suggested that the work of relevant INTOSAI and EUROSAI working groups also be taken into account. It welcomed the readiness of the Europe 2020 Strategy Audit Network to include this topic in its activities. It appreciated and accepted the offer of the SAI of the Slovak Republic to organise a seminar in order to share and discuss specific audit experience, and of the European Court of Auditors to organise a meeting to identify gaps and risks in relation to auditing cross-cutting energy and climate issues.
Other issues discussed at the meeting
The SAI of the Slovak Republic summarised the work done in the past year by the different working groups, task forces and networks of the Contact Committee. The SAI of Serbia provided information on the activities of the Network of SAIs of EU Candidate and Potential Candidate Countries.
The SAI of Latvia made a presentation on its audit concerning the transfer of port activities from the historical centre of Riga. The SAI of the Netherlands reported on its ongoing work in the area of product safety, specifically the branding of products with the CE marking.
The Contact Committee also supported a proposal to update the checklists and guidelines on public procurement audit.
The next Contact Committee meeting will be hosted and chaired by the European Court of Auditors.