Ivan Klešić, Auditor General and Oscar Herics, a Member of the European Court of Auditors, presented to the Croatian Parliament on March 22, 2018, at a joint thematic meeting of three committees (the Finance and Budget Committee, the Regional Development and EU Funds Committee and the Maritime Traffic and Infrastructure Committee), a Synthesis Report on the co-ordinated audit on Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions (JASPERS).
The report, jointly drafted by the European Court of Auditors and the Supreme Audit Institutions of the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Poland, contains the basic information on JASPERS as a body of the European Commission assisting EU member states in the preparation of EU funds withdrawal projects, audit objectives and major results the audits performed separately by these three institutions. Representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds were present at the presentation of the Report.
The meeting was chaired by Grozdana Perić, Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee, who presented the contents of the Report in the introductory section and briefly explained the role of JASPERS. Oscar Herics introduced audience with the methodology and audit approaches applied in this audit, as well as with the co-operation between the three audit institutions, which is a positive example in the area of EU funds management. Ivan Klešić described the audit objectives, audit subjects in audits carried out by SAIs of Croatia and Poland and the European Court of Auditors, and outlined the main common conclusions and recommendations.
The discussion highlighted the importance of the cooperation of beneficiary countries with JASPERS, as well as the recommendations given to audit entities, whose implementation would increase the efficiency of withdrawal of EU funds. Also, an advantage of such parallel co-ordinated audits was emphasized, as a good way to facilitate more effective, reliable and comprehensive review of complex issues involving a large number of participants at national and EU level.
A Common Report on the coordinated audit on “Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions” (JASPERS) is published on the website of the State Audit Office, which has been compiled by the State Audit Office, the European Court of Auditors and the State Audit Office of the Republic of Poland. The audit objectives of the three SAIs had a similar focus from an EU respectively national perspective. The ECA assessed whether JASPERS had made a positive contribution to the development and overall quality of the EU-financed projects in those Member States it supported, as well as improved their administrative capacity. The SAI of Croatia assessed whether JASPERS’ impact on the project proposals submitted by Croatia for co-financing from EU-funds was efficient. The SAI of Poland assessed whether JASPERS resulted in an increased quality of grant applications and, as such, a better use of the European funds in Poland, as well as boosted the country’s administrative capacity. The audits covered the period from when JASPERS began operations in 2006 until the end of 2016.The audits covered the period from 2006 (beginning of JASPERS) by the end of 2016. Each SAIs produced its own audit report and published it individually. The main messages of three audit reports are summarized in common report, which was also published on the web pages of the European Court of Auditors ( www.eca.europa.eu ) and the State Audit Office of the Republic of Poland ( www.nik.gov.pl )
State Audit Office of the Republic of Croatia and National Audit Office of the Republic of Bulgaria will implement the Twinning project “Further Improvement of Administrative Capacity and External Audit Efficiency” in the State Audit Office of the Republic of Macedonia. The project will be implemented from December 2017 to September 2019.
The Delegation of the European Union and the State Audit Office of the Republic of Macedonia will present the project in Skopje on January 25th 2018 at the premises of the Delegation of the European Union.
The overall project objective is further improvement of administrative capacities and external audit efficiency of the State Audit Office, whereby the main areas of intervention will be focused on implementation of four components: Further improvement of audit process as per international auditing standards; Strengthening of audit capacities; Sound cooperation with Parliament; Improvement of IT communication and HR management system.
A pool of auditors and experts from various EU Supreme Audit Institutions and European Court of Auditors will be involved in the implementation of the project activities and will share knowhow and best European practices.
The project is financed with a budget of € 1.400,000 million (95 % IPA Community contribution and 5 % national co-financing).
The Italian Court of Accounts, in the framework of the Contact Committee, initiated the establishment of the Working Group on Prevention and the Fight against Irregularities and Frauds in 2014. The first meeting was held in Rome on 18 and 19 December 2017, involving representatives of the European Court of Auditors (ECA), the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the supreme audit institutions of Italy, Portugal, Romania and Malta and representatives of the State Audit Office of the Republic of Croatia (senior auditors Kord Kordić and Martina Jurjević). The Italian Court of Accounts presented the objectives of the Working Group and emphasized the importance of cooperation between SAIs in protecting EU financial interests by strengthening co-operation and coordination between SAIs and other relevant EU and national institutions. Consequently, the objectives of the Working Group include strengthening the role of SAIs in the prevention and fight against fraud, harmonized treatment in EU Member States, strengthening the chain of control, making proposals for improving EU regulations and using existing irregularities databases. After the introductory seminar presenting the Italian Court of Accounts’ way of working and cooperation with other institutions to prevent irregularities and fraud, discussions were held between participants during which the opinions of individual SAIs and ECA on the mentioned topic were presented as well as the problems that need to be addressed in the planning of future activities related to the issue of separating the EU from national resources in the work of the SAI, the fact that SAIs have no sanction or judicial/investigative powers and that the databases available in the Member States are at different degrees of networking. Key questions were raised to continue the work of the Working Group, which will be analyzed by questionnaire or otherwise, after which work extension will be agreed as well as the date of the next meeting.
At the invitation of Mr. Jorge Bermudez, Auditor General of Chile, Mr. Ivan Klešić, Auditor General of Croatia, accompanied by his associates, officially visited Chile, where he participated in the following events:
at the International Conference "SDGs , oversight and strong institutions" organized by the Chilean State Audit Office in co-operation with the World Bank and OLACEFS, with the purpose to consider the Chilean model, and through presentations and panel discussions with leaders and representatives of key state bodies and institutions in Chile, representatives of non-governmental sector, the World Bank, the SAIs of other countries and other key stakeholders, exchange experiences and approaches to the ways and models of inclusion of the supreme audit institutions in this common professional challenge.
the bilateral visit was realized as a continuation of a professional dialogue between the State Audit Office of the Republic of Croatia and the State Audit Office of the Republic of Chile initiated during 2016 and continued with the bilateral meeting in Zagreb in May 2017. The purpose of the visit was to get acquainted with the work of the Chilean SAI, its organizational set-up and areas of work, exchange of experiences and ideas related to the implementation of the mandate of the institutions, strengthening external audit contributions to better managing public funds and identifying good practice on both sides. The meetings also discussed the modalities of extending professional cooperation in the future, both within the framework of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) as well as on a bilateral institutional and academic level.
at the ceremony of the joint inter-institutional project started at the end of 2016, and resulted in the publication of the book "Administrative Oversight of Public Procurement - Chilean and Croatian Experience" in Croatian, Spanish and English, which was firstly presented in May 2017 in Croatia.
Ivan Klešić, Auditor General, attended the regular annual meeting of the EU Contact Committee, held on 12 and 13 October 2017, in Luxembourg. On the first day, under the chairmanship of Mr. Claus-Heiner Lehne, President of the European Court of Auditors, seminar was organized on "Can the Supreme Audit Institutions contribute to restoring the trust of EU citizens?", including presentations and panel discussion of Mr. Jean Arthuis, Member of the European Parliament, Mr. Janos Bertok, OECD representative for public sector integrity and Mr. Anton Colella, Executive Director of ICAS. The seminar section was concluded with the explanation of innovative examples and examples of good practice in the field, presented by Mr. Arno Viser, Auditor General of the Netherlands and Mr. Kay Scheller, President of the German Court of Accounts.In the second part of the first day, a meeting of the heads of EU MSs’ SAIs leaders led to the informal debate on key challenges related to issues of mutual interest, considering how current EU challenges reflect the supreme audit institutions and whether they are ready to answer them. The second day of the meeting was devoted to the activities of the Contact Committee and reporting on working groups’ results and decision-making on their future activities. In the second part of the day, innovative approaches to EU issues (audits, good practice and new products) were discussed, with presentations given by the SAI of Czech Republic and SAI Hungary.At the end of the meeting, Mr. Klešić held the inaugural speech and introduced the participants with the date of the Contact Committee 2018 (Dubrovnik, 10-12.10.2018), after which Mr. Klaus-Heiner Lehne, President of ECA, handed over the Presidency of the EU Contact Committee in the next year period to the State Audit Office of Croatia and Mr. Ivan Klešić, Auditor General.Upon completion of the Contact Committee meeting, bilateral meetings of the heads of the EU MS SAIs were organized, and a liaison officer meeting was held, with the purpose of deciding on further steps and activities following the decisions of the Contact Committee. During the meeting of the Contact Committee, the European Court of Auditors marked the 40th anniversary of its existence, attended by Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, Mr. Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament and Mrs. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia (and former ECA member), currently chairing the EU Council.