Who are our European partners, and how do we work together?
The Netherlands Court of Audit works together with the supreme audit institutions of other EU member states in a wide number of areas, for example by undertaking joint audits or sharing knowledge.
The supreme audit institutions of the EU and the European Court of Auditors work together in the Contact Committee (CC). The Contact Committee is an assembly of the presidents of the supreme audit institutions of the 27 member states and the European Court of Auditors. It is a forum for sharing knowledge and addressing EU matters that are of common interest. The Contact Committee meets once a year.
Contact Committee working groups and networks
The Contact Committee has several working groups and networks which share knowledge and expertise on specific themes, and sometimes also perform joint (i.e. cross-border) audits. Such audits are doubly effective, not only because they facilitate comparison between member states, but also because the audit results have more clout, especially if they are intended to have an impact in Brussels.
The Netherlands Court of Audit is a member of three of these working groups and networks:
1. Task force on the European banking union
This task force focuses on joint audits of the banking union and published its first report on the supervision of medium-sized and small banks in December 2017. Headed by the supreme audit institutions of the Netherlands and Germany, the task force was launched in 2014 and has eight members. It is currently preparing its second joint report on bank resolution (scheduled for publication in October 2020). The Netherlands published its own national audit report in December 2019.
2. Network on Fiscal Policy Audit
In the wake of the financial crisis, the supreme audit institutions acknowledged the growing importance of fiscal policy surveillance. This network of 15 supreme audit institutions performed a joint audit of the national governments’ response to fiscal policy recommendations of the European Commission, the OECD, and the IMF. We discussed this report in a letter we sent to the Dutch House of Representatives on EU issues.
3. Working group on value-added tax
Combating VAT fraud (i.e. the non-payment of VAT) is the main remit of this working group, which conducts regular investigations into VAT fraud. We published an audit report on VAT on cross-border digital services in 2018. The German and Belgian supreme audit institutions and the European Court of Auditors also published reports on this subject in 2019.
Public sector financial accounting and EPSAS
Several years ago, the Netherlands Court of Audit decided to organise an annual seminar on financial accounting in the public sector, which evolved into an informal knowledge-sharing network. As the national governments of the EU member states apply different fiscal and accounting policies, it is difficult both to compare member states with each other and to understand the situation in individual member states. The European Commission is working on common accounting standards for fiscal and financial reporting, referred to as European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSAS).
International cooperation: EUROSAI and INTOSAI
The European supreme audit institutions are also members of the European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI). This is a Europe-wide group currently consisting of 50 supreme audit organisations, which, unlike the Contract Committee, discusses general, non-EU related issues.
EUROSAI is one of the seven regional INTOSAI groups. INTOSAI stands for the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions.