Luxembourg, 4 March 2014
EU Commission implements audit recommendations adequately, say EU Auditors
A report published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) concludes that the EU Commission adequately follows up and implements a large majority of the ECA’s recommendations and that this has contributed towards improving the financial management in a number of areas of the EU budget.
“The ECA adds value by applying its expertise to identify ways to improve financial management,” stated Mr Henrik Otbo, the ECA Member responsible for the report, “With the EU Commission taking our advice and implementing our recommendations, we are achieving our mission – to help the EU run better”.
The 2012 report on the follow-up of the European Court of Auditors’ Special Reports assessed if the Commission adequately followed up on audit recommendations made by the ECA in its special reports. The review examined a sample of 62 recommendations from ten special reports from 2006-2010. The ECA assessed the actions taken by the Commission in response to these 62 recommendations and found that 83 % were fully implemented or implemented in most respects, 12 % had been implemented in some respects, while 5 % had not been implemented. The review also showed that the Commission has proper guidelines and procedures in place concerning its follow up activities.
The follow-up of audit reports is considered by international auditing standards as the final stage in the performance audit cycle of planning, execution and follow up.
Notes to the editors:
European Court of Auditors (ECA) special reports are published throughout the year, presenting the results of selected audits of specific EU budgetary areas or management topics. They are often performance audits.
According to international auditing standards, the follow-up of audit reports is the final stage in the performance audit cycle of planning, execution and follow up. Following up on the ECA’s performance audit reports is a necessary element in the cycle of accountability and helps encourage the effective implementation of report recommendations by the Commission.
The 2012 report on the follow-up of the European Court of Auditors’ Special Reports (19/2013) assessed if the Commission adequately followed up recommendations made by the ECA in its special reports. This was broken down into two sub-questions: has the Commission established proper guidelines and procedures for follow up activities, and does the Commission have adequate and reliable management information on audit recommendations and their state of implementation?
The ECA’s review included an examination of the Commission’s follow-up of a sample of 62 recommendations from ten special reports adopted by the ECA during the 2006-2010 period. For this sample the Court assessed the current implementation status of the recommendations and the Commission’s own management information concerning the status of these recommendations. The Court also reviewed relevant procedures of the directorates-general and carried out a review of manuals, guidelines, plans, and published reports, with particular focus to those relating to the RAD application (Recommendation, Action, Discharge). RAD is an IT tool used by the Commission to monitor its follow up of audit recommendations by the ECA and requests made by the discharge authority in the framework of the budgetary discharge procedure.
The review concluded that the Commission adequately follows up the Court’s recommendations. The review of a sample of recommendations thus showed that the Commission has implemented 83 % of the Court’s recommendations, either fully or in most respects, which has contributed towards improving the financial management in a number of areas of the EU budget. It was found that that the Commission has appropriate guidelines and procedures in place concerning its follow up activities.
The ECA highlighted improvements in monitoring reliable performance information as examples of audit recommendations that were implemented consequent to ECA special reports. Improvements were noted in a number of areas reviewed. Firstly, while the draft Cohesion Fund Regulations for the programming period 2014-2020 remain fundamentally input based, they contain provisions for a stronger result-oriented approach including indicators for output and expected results [cohesion]. Secondly, regarding the EU fruit and vegetable aid programme in agriculture, data collection from Member States has improved with the help of new guidelines, templates, and IT software from the Commission. Finally, improvements were also noted in reporting, monitoring and communication by those delivering the rehabilitation programme after the Indian Ocean Tsunami (external actions).
Other examples are in the text of the special report available in 23 EU languages at eca.europa.eu.
The ECA has previously followed up the implementation of the ECA’s recommendations in special report No 19/2012 available here: http://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/SR12_19/SR12_19_EN.PDF