Coordinating Audit Functions in the European Union
Edited by Milagros Garciá Crespo
Chapter 8: The coordination of internal controls: the single audit – towards a European Union internal control framework
Vítor Caldeira INTRODUCTION The European Union (EU) is a unique organization due to its political and legal context, scale and complexity. Its budget is subject to many layers of procedures both within the European Institutions and Member (or beneﬁciary) States. Management is complicated by the large number and varied nature of the schemes, the millions of beneﬁciaries, and the involvement of many diﬀerent bodies in Member States often representing diﬀerent administrative cultures. The eﬀectiveness of the audit systems and control procedures over EU expenditure has been a cause of concern for a number of years (Harlow, 2002). Meanwhile, the European Commission has developed a series of fundamental reforms1 aimed at improving the quality of ﬁnancial management. This reform process has led to major changes in the European Commission environment, namely the decentralization of responsibilities for the use of funds to those managing them (i.e. authorizing oﬃcers) and the replacement of the Financial Controller’s role with an internal audit function. An important reform of the Financial Regulation, which governs the management and control of the EU budget, has also been achieved. The ﬁnancial management and control systems for agriculture and structural measures were strengthened too during the 1990s, in particular by setting out the procedures and checks that need to be undertaken by Member States as part of their responsibilities for the operational management of those European ﬁnancial instruments. Despite these advances, both the European Parliament2 and the Council have expressed concerns about a...
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