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A study on the development of audit functions in the European Union

An EU-funded project analysed the institutionalisation of audit at the EU level and the evolution of the European Court of Auditors' (ECA) role and practice.
A study on the development of audit functions in the European Union
The APPLAUD (Accountability and public policy audit in the European Union) project studied the origins of financial accountability in the EU budget, in the context of the Audit Board (1959-1977). It also investigated the further institutionalisation of the audit function, in the context of the ECA (1977-2013).

Work included an analysis of historical archives from the Court and the EU, such as annual reports from the Audit Board and the EU's budget and internal documents. Additionally, a series of elite interviews with EU officials was conducted.

APPLAUD concluded that the audit practice in the EU has resulted from a mix of distinct national approaches, in terms of culture, philosophy and disciplinary approaches to external financial control. The institutionalisation of the audit approaches is still a work in progress, after 60 years of audit governance.

The ECA's importance and influence only developed in the last decade, seeking to maximise the impact of its work and improve financial accountability. Internal reforms in the ECA will allow it to work faster, with increased flexibility and time to publish its findings, while taking higher-risk topics. New tools of financial and economic governance raise important questions regarding financial accountability and the future role and mandate of the ECA.

A total of 10 workshops in various countries and institutes of European political studies were organised. Efforts also resulted in four research articles in international peer-reviewed articles, two of which were published in high-ranking journals in the field of law and public administration. One article put forward a new framework for analysing early institutional processes for archives research.

Six lectures on financial accountability, audit and evaluation were given to masters students of European public policy and administration. The EUFINACCO research network was also created, attracting 20 members from 9 EU Member States and 2 non-EU states. The network was granted EUR 5 000 to organise workshops, after it was awarded a status of Collaborative Research Network (CRN).

The investigation and its outcomes will impact future academic research on the most desirable accountability mechanisms in the EU and provide discussion points for reforming the ECA. Research outputs will be communicated to EU practitioners and used in classrooms to engage future researchers on the topic.

Related information


Audit functions, institutionalisation, European Court of Auditors, accountability, public policy
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