This year’s edition of the Audit Compendium addresses challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is behind one of the most disruptive health crises the world has ever seen, with a major impact on society, economies and individuals everywhere. The Compendium provides information on the impact of and the response to the pandemic at national and supranational level, and gives an overview of the pertinent audit work carried out and published in 2020 by the EU’s supreme audit institutions (EU SAIs).
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a multidimensional crisis that has affected nearly all areas of public and private life, be it public health, economic activity, labour, education or public finances. The impact on the EU and Member States has been substantial, disruptive and highly asymmetric. Its timing, extent and exact nature, and of the response thereto, have varied greatly across the EU, but also regionally and sometimes even locally, concerning public health, economic activity, labour, education and public finances.
In most areas severely affected by the pandemic, the EU has only limited power to act. This is partly because competence for public health is not exclusive to the EU, and partly because there was little preparedness or initial consensus among Member States on a common response. Due to the lack of a coordinated approach, national and regional governments acted independently when putting in place prevention and containment measures, when procuring equipment or when setting up recovery packages and job retention schemes to mitigate the socio-economic consequences. Nevertheless, after a difficult start, the EU and Member States seem to have improved their cooperation to mitigate the effects of the crisis.
EU SAIs, i.e. the SAIs of the Member States and the European Court of Auditors (ECA), reacted promptly to the current crisis and have quickly undertaken many audit and monitoring activities. In addition to the 48 audit activities completed in 2020, more than 200 other audit activities are still ongoing or planned, and will be finalised in 2021 or 2022. The Compendium contains summaries of 17 reports (out of 48) published in 2020, which cover five priority areas: public health, digitalisation, socio-economic response, public finances and risks, and the general response at different levels of government. It draws on the results of audits carried out by the SAIs of Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and the ECA.
CC Audit Compendium – Response to COVID-19