The 2022 annual meeting of the Contact Committee was chaired and hosted by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) in Luxembourg. Representatives of SIGMA and of the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of candidate countries attended the meeting as active observers.
This was the first physical meeting of the heads of EU SAIs since 2019, although a high-level online event was held in November 2021. The main discussion focused on the strategic tasks and challenges for EU SAIs in assessing the (added) value of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) at national and EU level. The European Commission’s Director General and Head of the Recovery and Resilience Task Force, Céline Gauer, presented in her keynote speech the ongoing rollout of the RRF and the progress made in its implementation. She also pinpointed general and future challenges and highlighted the potential opportunities offered by this new instrument.
The session also featured presentations from Ioannis Sarmas (SAI of Greece), Mauro Orefice (SAI of Italy), Bart Andriessens (SAI of Belgium), Kay Scheller (SAI of Germany), Mindaugas Macijauskas (SAI of Lithuania), Rolands Irklis (SAI of Latvia) and Sami Yläoutinen (SAI of Finland) on their finalised, ongoing and planned audit work in relation to the RRF, and their respective national recovery and resilience plans. They covered a variety of subjects and aspects, ranging from different types of audits and methodological approaches to specific issues in the relevant policy areas and more thematic and crosscutting issues such as green tagging, procurement procedures and financial/budgetary risks.
During the ensuing discussions, moderated by Helena Lindberg (SAI of Sweden), Arno Visser (SAI of the Netherlands) and Ivana Maletić (ECA Member), the participants touched upon a series of complex issues, such as complementarity and the added value of the RRF, national funding, accountability and the allocation of responsibilities at EU and national level, and the special role of SAIs as independent institutions in the control and audit frameworks. Based on their initial findings, the SAIs underlined the importance of putting in place adequate monitoring and control systems.
In view of the current situation, a special session was dedicated to the paradigm shift produced by the COVID-19 crisis and the invasion of Ukraine. Valeriy Patskan, Chairman of the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine, addressed the audience via video and reported on the situation in his country. He expressed his wishes and hopes for after the war, when cooperation with Ukraine’s Western partners will be needed to rebuild and reform the state and its institutions. He also thanked the Contact Committee for its
quick reaction in support of the Ukrainian cause.
The second part of the special session was introduced by Nathalie Tocci, Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali and former special advisor to EU High Representatives Josep Borrell and Federica Mogherini. Ms Tocci examined the various elements that led to the invasion of Ukraine and the different perspectives to be taken into account. She emphasised the importance of a more comprehensive/holistic approach to EU autonomy and security in order to address the challenges facing the EU, be they consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine or climate change.
The next Contact Committee meeting will be hosted and chaired by the SAI of Portugal in 2023.