About Contact Committee
Cooperation between the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of the European Union and the European Court of Auditors (ECA) takes place within the framework of the Contact Committee (CC) structure. This structure consists of CC (formed by Heads of the EU SAIs and ECA), the Liaison Officers (LOs – they provide a professional contacts network in Europe), working groups, networks and task forces on specific topics. CC acts as a forum where matters of common interest are discussed.
The first meeting of Heads of SAIs of the EU (then EEC) was held in 1960. With the introduction of own resources to finance the EU budget in the late 1960s, and the subsequent extended role of the European Parliament in budgetary matters, the need for an independent external audit body for the EU became increasingly apparent. CC was in fact instrumental in setting up the European Court of Auditors (ECA) and codifying its powers in the Treaty of Brussels in 1975, which led to the creation of the ECA in 1977. The CC invited the ECA to join in 1978 becoming its tenth member.
Over the years, cooperation between EU SAIs and ECA has become more organised and institutionalised. This was also reflected in the European treaties - EC Treaty in its original form stated that the ECA shall undertake its audit in "liaison" with the SAIs of the Member States, while the Treaty of Amsterdam later added "the ECA and the national audit bodies shall cooperate in a spirit of trust while maintaining their independence". The Treaty of Nice invited ECA to set up a CC with the EU SAIs.
Cooperation between EU SAIs and ECA is not a legal obligation; it is practical necessity. The EU Treaty gave a legal basis for cooperation between the ECA and national SAIs or other competent national audit bodies. In practice, the national SAIs provide ECA's auditors with local practical and logistical support as well as specific knowledge in the audited field.
Cooperation with the SAIs of candidate and potential candidate countries
The CC promotes and facilitates cooperation between candidate and potential candidate countries and EU SAIs by means of several initiatives, most of them within the framework of the Network of SAIs of candidate and potential candidate countries and the ECA. Besides the participation of the heads of those SAIs in the CC meetings as observers, the Joint Working Group on Audit Activities (JWGAA), successor of the former Contact Committee Working Group for Candidate Countries, promotes practical, hands-on cooperation.
Cooperation with international organisations
Representatives of EUROSAI, and INTOSAI, attend meetings of CC and are invited to report on their development and future plans. Other examples of cooperation with EUROSAI include joint training events and participation of EUROSAI members in multilateral activities started under the CC.
Contact Committee Mission
The Contact Committee aims to enhance cooperation among its members in order to improve external audit and accountability in EU.
Contact Committee Vision
The Contact Committee strives to improve the framework and conditions for cooperation in the EU among Member State SAIs and the ECA, and for the audit of EU funds and other matters concerning good governance for the benefit of the EU citizens.
- Independence: mutual respect for each other’s independence;
- Cooperation: a commitment to work together;
- Transparency: commitment to openness and sharing information;
- Impact: seeking to achieve more together than can be done individually.
- To exchange EU-relevant knowledge and experience within an EU context;
- To improve professional cooperation among its members on issues in the EU field;
- To initiate and coordinate the performance of audit activities of common interest in the EU field;
- To determine positions on emerging issues concerning auditing in the EU field;
- To implement the framework on cooperation with the SAIs of future Member States;
- To share information, views and results with interested others outside the Contact Committee.
More about Contact Committee on http://www.eca.europa.eu/sites/cc/Pages/Splash.aspx