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 range of areas, for example by undertaking joint audits or sharing knowledge.
On 17 May The supreme audit institutions of the EU and the European Court of Auditors work together in the Contact Committee. 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. Recent pronouncements:
On 17 May, issued a statement in support of the independence of the Audit Office of the Republic of Cyprus.
On 22 July 2021, the Contact Committee published a report on the audits carried out by 11 EU supreme audit institutions of their governments’ response to COVID-19.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Contact Committee published a letter calling on INTOSAI members (all supreme audit institutions worldwide) to stand up for peace and solidarity with Ukraine.
Contact Committee working groups and networks
The Contact Committee has several working groups and networks that share knowledge and expertise on specific themes, and sometimes 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 authority, especially if they are intended to have an impact in Brussels. The Netherlands Court of Audit is currently a member of one working group and one network:
1. Network on Fiscal Policy Audit
In the wake of the financial crisis, the supreme audit institutions acknowledged the growing importance of fiscal policy supervision. This network of 15 supreme audit institutions performed in 2017 a joint audit of national governments’ response to fiscal policy recommendations of the European Commission, OECD, and IMF. We discussed the audit report in a letter we sent to the Dutch House of Representatives on EU issues. On 20 November 2022, the supreme audit institutions of Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden published a joint report on their countries’ medium-term budgetary frameworks.
2. Working group on value-added tax
The main remit of this working group, which conducts regular investigations into VAT, is to combat VAT fraud (i.e. the non-payment of VAT). 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.
Besides cooperation in formal CC working groups and networks, there is also informal cooperation and knowledge-sharing, for instance on audits of the Recovery and Resilience Facility by supreme audit institutions.
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 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 EU supreme audit institutions are also members of the European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI). This is a Europe-wide group currently consisting of 51 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.