In February, Paul Stephenson, co-convenor of the UACES Collaborative Research network ‘EUFINACCO‘ (2015-18) on financial accountability in the EU, took part in the third and final workshop at Deusto University in Bilbao. It was organised thanks to a 5000 pounds grant from the University Association for Contemporary European Studies, London. Last year’s workshop was in Berlin, while in May 2016, Paul hosted the first of the workshops at FASoS.
This last workshop was attended by several members of the European Court of Auditors and the European Parliament, alongside researchers from Berlin, London, Tilburg, Strathclyde, Valencia and Warsaw. It was organised locally by Maria Luisa Sanchez Barrueco, who previously masterminded the 45th UACES annual conference at Deusto in 2015, which many members of the Political Science department attended. Held at the Law Faculty, there were also several master students in the audience who follow Maria’s Jean Monnet module SAPIA (Students Awareness of Public Integrity and Accountability).
Paul presented his own research on the changing nature of inter-institutional relations between the European Parliament (ECA) and the European Court of Auditors (ECA), examining the recent efforts by the ECA to seek a direct audience with policy committees beyond the Budgetary Control Committee, which has, for many years, been the traditional venue for the scrutiny of EU budgetary expenditure.
Other papers examined: the origin of the Statement of Assurance introduced after the Maastricht Treaty; the challenge of visibility of EU revenue for citizens; whether or not financial corrections makes the EU more accountable; 40 years of auditing the European Development Fund; financial instruments in cohesion policy; whether or not there is accountability for cohesion policy in the Netherlands; the accountability of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) aka the Juncker Plan; and the challenges of consistency when auditing EU external action. Workshop participants were also able to enjoy workshop presentations via Skype from other network members in Luxembourg and Leiden.
And of course, no visit to Bilbao would be complete without a visit to the Guggenheim, with its temporary exhibition of David Hockney’s 82 Portraits and 1 Still-Life, as well as a dinner of delicious pintxos topped with local seafood. It rained non-stop but was a productive and rewarding two days of reflection, debate and brainstorming as to how best to take the network forward.
[Post by Paul Stephenson for FASoS Maastricht Blog – 8 March 2018]