On 12 September 2013, a Conference on European Governance and Accountability was held at the European Court of Auditors (ECA) in Luxembourg as the closing event of the celebration of the 35th anniversary year of the ECA.
Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira, President of the ECA, Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, as well as other guests, delivered speeches.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exterior view of the European Court of Auditors (ECA), in Luxembourg (3 shots)
||Arrival of Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira, President of the European Court of Auditors
||Cutaway: panel "Conference on European Governance and Accountability - Closing event of the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the European Court of Auditors"
||SOUNDBITE by Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira (in ENGLISH) saying that an essential element of democratic legitimacy is achieving results for citizens; that corresponds to the "for-the-people" part of Lincoln’s famous definition of democracy; it is sometimes referred to as "legitimacy by results"; it is perhaps no accident that proposals have been made to focus the EU budget on results during the next financial framework from 2014 to 2020; however, this implies the need for more effective public accountability for results achieved by EU spending; that will in turn have implications for public management, audit and oversight arrangements; it means that the "focus on results" should be reflected in: • management roles and responsibilities, • the objectives and targets to be achieved, • the payments conditions for receiving funds, • requirements for recording, checking and reporting on results, • external audit mandates, and • arrangements for political oversight; all these components need to be in place and working; up to now: • political attention has centred on the allocation of budgeted resources; • management has targeted the utilisation rate; • control activities have been directed at checking compliance with the rules; and • the main function of the Court has been to provide assurance on the regularity of financial operations; if we need effective accountability for results, some or all of these things may need to change; overall, that would represent a major change of mind-set for public policy-makers, financial managers and auditors; in the Court’s view, although there have already been moves in this direction, effective accountability for the results achieved with the EU budget still looks a long way off.
||Cutaway of Lazaros S. Lazarou and Kevin Cardiff, Members of the European Court of Auditors
||SOUNDBITE by Herman van Rompuy (in FRENCH) saying that this responsibility of accountability is an essential condition for credibility; it is the basis for trust because without any assessment, public action has no sense; without credible account, without checked account, there is neither valuable discussion nor possible progress of action.
||Cutaway: audience applauding
||SOUNDBITE by Herman van Rompuy (in FRENCH) saying that it is a political responsibility as well as a civic responsibility; but this awareness at all levels can only be turned into efficient action by relying on detailed account and impartial assessment; by relying on institutions like the ECA; the ECA at European level, supreme authority control at Member States level.
||Cutaway: general view of the speakers
||SOUNDBITE by Pablo Zalba Bidegain, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the EP (in ENGLISH) saying that after several years of economic crisis, Europe is still living in a precarious situation; nevertheless this situation is not as bad as it appears if we compare it to the fiscal situation and macro economic data of the United States and Japan for example; saying that he firmly believes that we are recovering but we must admit that recovery is still extremely fragile.
||Cutaway of Pablo Zalba Bidegain and Patrick Dunleavy, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the London School of Economics
||SOUNDBITE by Mark Bovens, Professor of Public Administration at the Utrecht University School of Governance, (in ENGLISH) saying that it helps to distinguish between accountability as a virtue and accountability as a mechanism; accountability can be a synonym for good governance and as such a desired quality of institutions and officials; he calls this accountability as a virtue; for example the expression "accountable governance" can refer to desirable qualities such as transparency, responsiveness or fairness but accountability can also be a means to achieve these ends, a tool to control and correct institutions and officials.
||Cutaway of Michael Theurer, Chair of the Committee on Budgetary Control of the EP, and Gijs M. de Vries, Member of the European Court of Auditors
||SOUNDBITE by Michael Theurer (in ENGLISH) saying that the findings of the ECA are the basement of the work of the Committee on Budgetary Control of the EP; but its Members sometimes feel - perhaps like some Members of the distinguished ECA - that not all the decision makers in the European institutions really like to deal with these findings and draw consequences.
||Cutaway of a cameraman
||SOUNDBITE by Gijs M. de Vries (in ENGLISH) saying that we are witnessing a very significant crisis in legitimacy of national and European political institutions, perhaps unprecedented since the 1930's; it is against that background that the ECA is celebrating its 35th birthday and that is why its Members thought they should devote this seminar to these questions and reflect a little on their own role in addressing these difficulties.
||Overall view of the conference room