The Contact Committee is an autonomous and independent assembly of the heads of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of the European Union (EU) Member States and the head of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) with the purpose of strengthening the EU financial management and good governance. The State Audit Office is a member of the Contact Committee since May 1st 2004.
The first meeting of the SAIs of the European Economic Union (now – Contact Committee) took place in 1960. With the allocation of independent financing in the form of the EU budget in late 1960s, the need for establishing an independent external control audit body became even more pressing. The Contact Committee participated in the process of establishing the ECA, as well as codified its powers in the Treaty of Brussels in 1975 which led to the founding of the ECA in 1977. By 1978 the ECA was already a member of the Contact Committee.
Within the framework of the Contact Committee, an extensive cooperation is carried out with the EU’s Supreme Audit Institution – the ECA. In turn, the cooperation between the SAIs of EU Member States mostly takes place in the working groups of the Contact Committee.
The State Audit Office representatives work within the framework of the Contact Committee in:
Meeting of the EU Contact Committee
The meetings of the EU Contact Committee are held once a year. In October 2013 the State Audit Office was approved as a member of the EU Contact Committee presidency trio and took over the responsibility for the coordination of the work of organization for the upcoming three years.
On 18th -19th June 2015, as part of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the State Audit Office organized the Contact Committee meeting in Riga. The meeting was attended by the heads of SAIs of the EU Member States and five candidate countries, representatives from the ECA and SIGMA, as well as representatives from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank.
The main topics that were discussed during the meeting were the European Fund for Strategic Investments , the European Banking Union and its operational supervision, the SAIs’ cooperation with law enforcement institutions and the strengthening of accountability of public officials, as well as the Multiannual Financial Framework. Also the reports on the Contact Committee working group activities along with proposals for the further collaboration were presented.
The next annual meeting of the Contact Committee was hosted and chaired by the Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic on 20th – 21st October 2016 in Bratislava. The main topic of the meeting was the auditing of the EU energy policy and climate. The aim was to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities arising from the implementation of the EU’s energy policy in terms of audit and accountability. The Contact Committee recognized that only by working together SAIs can most effectively address these important cross-cutting issues. The seminar of the Contact Committee on this subject showed that many SAIs had already done a significant amount of audit work on topics related to energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy security, integration of the European energy markets, measuring, monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, and adapting to climate change. The Contact Committee accepted the offer of the SAI of the Slovak Republic to organize a seminar in order to share and discuss specific audit experience, and the offer of the ECA to organize a meeting to identify gaps and risks in relation to auditing cross-cutting energy and climate issues. As each year the summary of the annual work of different working groups, task forces and networks of the Contact Committee was presented.
From 12th – 13th October 2017 the annual meeting of the Contact Committee took place in Luxembourg and it chaired and hosted by the ECA. The main theme of the Contact Committee meeting was public trust in public authorities and the role of SAIs in promoting this trust. The meeting also held a seminar on restoring the trust of EU citizens to governments and public authorities.
From 11th – 12th October 2018, the annual meeting of the Contact Committee was hosted and chaired by the State Audit Office of Croatia in Dubrovnik, Croatia. As part of the meeting, the representative of the State Audit Office participated in the seminar on cooperation with the EU citizens. Among other participants and presenters were the heads of SAIs, the ECA President, the representatives of the European Parliament and SIGMA, as well as the representatives of different non-governmental institutions. During the seminar, several discussions were held on the progress and challenges from the perspective of EU citizens, on public involvement in provision of better policies and services for the EU citizens and on the citizens’ contribution to the work of SAIs.
The next meeting will be hosted and chaired by the National Audit Office of Poland in Warsaw from 27th – 28th June 2019.