The 2017 annual meeting of the Contact Committee was chaired and hosted by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) in Luxembourg. The heads of supreme audit institutions (SAIs) of Candidate Countries and Potential Candidates, as well as representatives of the EUROSAI Secretariat and SIGMA, attended the meeting as active observers.
The main discussion topic of the Contact Committee meeting was the possible role of SAIs in contributing to restoring the trust of EU citizens. It was chosen in the light of the EU and its Member States facing ever greater challenges and increased pressure on their public finances, and an apparent loss of trust of citizens in national and EU institutions. In this context participants also dealt with innovative audit products of SAIs and stakeholder communication aiming at building trust in national and supra-national government institutions. The discussions were moderated by Ms Brigitte Christ, Deputy Director of the SAI of Switzerland.
Three external guests were invited to share their views on this topic in the panel discussion. Mr Arthuis, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Committee on Budgets, provided an EU perspective on the issue. Mr Bertok, expert on public sector integrity, provided an OECD perspective on how better governance can help rebuild trust. Finally, Mr Colella, Chief Executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, shared his views on the audit profession as a value-driven service to society. Further input was provided by Ms Yli-Viikari (SAI of Finland), Mr Caldeira (SAI of Portugal), and Mr Brenninkmeijer (ECA). Mr Scheller (SAI of Germany), Mr Visser (SAI of the Netherlands) and Mr Migaud (SAI of France) shared their views on and provided concrete examples of stakeholder communication.
In the ensuing discussions the Contact Committee took note of activities carried out by its working bodies and professional partners, as well as relevant activities of member SAIs. This notably included the final reports of parallel audits on the contribution of structural funds to the Europe 2020 Strategy in the areas of employment and/or education (carried out under the leadership of the SAIs of Germany, the Netherlands and Malta) and on underlying risks to sustainable public finances (under the leadership of the SAIs of Sweden and Finland).
The next meeting will be hosted and chaired by the State Audit Office of Croatia in October 2018.