EUROSAI. Magazine N24 - 2018

eurosai 80 Studies and other articles Derek Meijers 1 Directorate of the Presidency of the European Court of Auditors PUBLIC AUDIT IN THE EUROPEAN UNION - A BOOK IN THE MAKING In January 2019, the ECA will publish a handbook on the 29 supreme audit institutions (SAIs) in the European Union (EU) and its Member States. Derek Meijers, project manager for this handbook, explains the rationale behind the initiative, what the handbook is about and how the publication will evolve in future years. A handbook on the 29 SAIs in the EU and its Member States The ECA will publish a new handbook on the 29 EU supreme audit institutions (SAIs) in early 2019. Entitled Public Audit in the European Union, it will contain detailed information on the status, power, organisation, work and output of the SAIs, and illustrate the differences and similarities between these 29 audit institutions. The aim of Public Audit in the European Union is to provide public auditors, academics and other interested readers with a practical repository on public audit in the EU, at both the Union and national levels. By comparing comprehensive information on the work of SAIs in the EU and their role in the accountability process, the ECA hopes to contribute to important ongoing research in this field. Why do we need a handbook on EU SAIs? SAIs are essential institutions, particularly in the EU, where the existence of an independent external public audit body is a prerequisite for joining. SAIs are a key aspect of modern societies’ checks and balances to ensure the efficient, effective and economic use of public resources. They operate autonomously in a highly political context and are prerequisites for a properly functioning democracy. The simple fact that they assess government action can already positively influence good governance. Moreover, by helping parliaments to control governments and their country’s government, or EU executive institutions to improve policy-making and financial management, SAIs act as both service providers and independent guardians of citizens’ interests. In addition to promoting accountability and transparency on the national level, EU SAIs also actively support the capacity-building of public audit bodies in third countries. Many of the 29 SAIs covered in Public Audit in the European Union can be proud of a long and rich history. They are the modern embodiment of a public audit function which, in some countries, dates back as far as the 14 th century. And although the individual structures, mandates and working methods of most SAIs have evolved over time – sometimes as a result of political change or the reform of public administration, – their core function remains the same: to scrutinise the finances and policies of governments and build trust. 1 This article has appeared as a contribution in the ECA Journal of December 2018