EUROSAI. Magazine N24 - 2018

Magazine No. 24 - 2018 55 Information on EU 2018 EU Contact Committee meeting Relating to EU citizens’ concerns An important reason for selecting the seminar theme was that currently EU Member States and EU institutions are facing several challenges at national and supra-national level, such as Brexit, migration, and climate change. These issues include many aspects that are relevant for citizens’ lives, but which are usually not covered by auditors when assessing government accounts or administrative performance. While auditors are inclined to think that the new Multiannual Financial Framework, results-oriented budgeting, accounting standards or the Banking Union are of ultimate importance, ordinary EU citizens are often not interested in these topics because they do not perceive these issues as having an impact on their daily lives. And the same often goes, eventually, for their representatives. Key questions in this regard are: what are actually citizens’ perspectives on the challenges currently faced by the EU? Are such issues perceived as challenges at national or supra-national level? Should SAIs endeavour to respond to the EU citizens’ needs and concerns in relation to such issues and are they ready to do so? And also: how can increased interaction with citizens be of benefit to the SAIs themselves and how can this be achieved?  Issues raised by speakers After the welcome and opening of the meeting by Auditor General Ivan Klesic, Tomaz Vesel, President of the Slovenian SAI and moderator of the seminar, invited participants to share best practices and innovative ideas on how to improve interaction of SAIs with citizens and their representatives. In his keynote speech, Ivica Tolic, Member of the European Parliament, recalled a number of main achievements of the EU in the last several years and its challenges. He highlighted the growing economy and the growing number of people finding work, albeit still with an unsatisfactory level of youth employment. He also referred to the EU’s position as a trade power and the biggest single market. However, he reminded the participants of the increasing concerns related to climate change, going together with a need for environment protection. Another point he raised related to the persistent need to fight fraud and corruption and the EU facing a challenge often identified as ‘division.’ He gave some example of this ‘division’ in the EU, starting with, in his view, currently the biggest one: Brexit. He underlined that for Brexit - but also several other challenges in the EU, such as the Schengen area, inner borders, a divided migration policy and the expansion of the EU - EU citizens want solutions to be found that will keep them safe and safeguard their good quality of life. He concluded that, since these issues are important and relevant for citizens, they need to be considered as audit themes, both at the EU and national level. Karen Hill, Head of the SIGMA Programme of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), stated that, based on the SIGMA – standing for ‘Support for Improvement in Governance and Management’ - experience, it is extremely important to think about who your stakeholders might be and how to actively involve them. While civil society organisations have spent time and effort in public consultation - through written procedures, focus groups, providing data etc. - there is often little evidence that they have actually influenced the outcomes. Therefore, the consultation process also has to include feedback to those who were engaged and who gave inputs. Going further with this approach SAIs can benefit and increase their impact. Important steps are to move from writing to actually meeting with and talking to citizens since, in general, citizens prefer face 2018 EU Contact Committee meeting