European Commission ‘is learning audit lessons’

4 Mar 14
The European Commission has become better at following auditors’ advice and taken steps to improve its financial management, Europe’s spending watchdog has concluded.

By Vivienne Russell | 4 March 2013

The European Commission has become better at following auditors’ advice and taken steps to improve its financial management, Europe’s spending watchdog has concluded.

Publishing its second review of the way the commission follows up recommendations, the European Court of Auditors today said Brussels had improved its performance, with 83% of suggestions either fully implemented or implemented in most respects.

‘The ECA adds value by applying its expertise to identify ways to improve financial management,’ said Henrik Otbo, the ECA member responsible for the report.

‘With the EU Commission taking our advice and implementing our recommendations, we are achieving our mission.’

The ECA’s first review of how the commission implements advice was published in 2012 and concluded that this was an area that needed to be strengthened.

The second review tracked a total of 62 ECA recommendations made in 10 different special reports on topics from treasury management and banking to vocational training for women and agriculture.

While most (83%) recommendations had been implemented fully or mostly, 12% had been implemented in some respects and 5% not implemented at all.

Among areas that had improved following an ECA study was grant aid, where processes had been simplified and procedures for considering aid applications strengthened. The commission had also improved the way it monitors and evaluates the results of programmes.

However, the auditors highlighted areas where financial management still needed to be improved. These included the provision of comparative cost information to officials responsible for implementation and monitoring, and better coordination between the commission and other funders such as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The ECA also urged the commission to refine the IT system holding its management information as this did not properly reflect the status of recommendations that had only be partially implemented.

 

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