Joint final report on findings concerning the implementation of provisions of the convention on the protection of the marine environment of the Baltic Sea area (the Helsinki Convention) 2001
Report ID: 42

In  2000, the SAIs of  Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Russian Federation and Sweden decided to carry out a parallel audit to assess the implementation of the provisions of the Helsinki Convention of 1992, previously encompassed by the 1974 Convention, related to the protection of the Baltic Sea against land-originating pollution.

The participating SAIs prepared a common Audit Programme signed in Stockholm in May 2000.

The audits were undertaken on the initiative of the Supreme Chamber of Control of the Republic of Poland, with consideration of the INTOSAI and EUROSAI guidelines on initiating and conducting international and regional audits of the implementation of tasks arising from provisions of international agreements related to environment protection.

In particular the SAIs examined:

  • Whether national legislation takes into account the provisions of the Helsinki Convention related to the protection of the Baltic Sea against pollution,
  • Whether control procedures and measures are in place in this respect,
  • The use of public funds for the implementation of tasks related to the protection of the Baltic Sea waters,
  • Audit of the non-point sources of pollution, mainly from agriculture,
  • Audit of land-based point pollution sources, regarding mainly urban zones and municipal wastewater treatment plants.

The audits scope covered the period between 1996 and 1999. The audit was carried out during the second half of 2000 and the first quarter of 2001. The audit findings were presented in the second quarter of 2001 in the form of national reports. Summaries of these reports served as a basis for preparation of this Joint Final Report.


Report on the parallel audit on the Performance of the Structural Funds programmes of the EU in the areas of employment and or environment
Report ID: 70

In 2006 the Contact Committee gave a mandate to the Working Group on Structural Funds to continue its reviews of Structural Funds issues and specifically to carry out a focused review on “Performance (output/effectiveness) of the Structural Funds programmes in the areas of employment and/or environment″. The Working Group agreed an Audit Plan which provided a framework for carrying out the review. Each SAI examined their respective national administration’s work on the planning, monitoring and evaluation of projects, measures, sub programmes or programmes (as appropriate) co-financed by the Structural Funds.

The SAIs of Austria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republik, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom participated in the audit. The SAIs of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Lithuania and the ECA were observers. The aim was to identify potential improvements in the Structural Funds’ programmes, especially in their planning and in their administrative management.

The review involved each SAI in an examination of the Structural Funds (objectives 1 and 2) in the areas of employment and/or environment, and concluding on the following:

• if and how national authorities monitored the sustainable success of the funded measures;

• to what extent aid measures (sub programmes, major projects and other projects) provided an effective and sustainable contribution to the strategic goals of the Structural Funds.

The subject of the audit was an important topic of relevance to both the 2000-2006 and 2007- 2013 Structural Funds’ programmes. The audit was concerned with the two Key Areas of the strategic planning and the evaluation of aid measures. Based on the examination of measures from the period 2000-2006 each of the SAIs aimed to conclude on the extent to which Member States have contributed to the realisation of the respective OP’s strategic goals. As the goals of the Structural Funds have continued from the 2000-2006 period to the programme period 2007-2013, the findings from the audit of measures from the period 2000- 2006 have been used to inform the recommendations for the improvement of the new period 2007-2013.

The report sets out good practice identified by individual SAIs, relevant for both programme periods 2000-2006 and 2007-2013. As a general matter of good practice, many of the lessons learned from the 2000-2006 programme period have been incorporated into Member States’ administrative arrangements for 2007-2013.


Fisheries management and monitoring of environmental impact on fish resources in the Baltic sea
Report ID: 159

1. In 2008 the Supreme Audit Institutions of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Sweden conducted an audit of environmental monitoring and fisheries management and control in the Baltic Sea. The Supreme Audit Institutions in Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Russia, and Sweden did not participate in the audit of the environmental monitoring in the Baltic Sea. The Supreme Audit Institutions of Latvia, Poland and Germany did not participate in the audit of fisheries management and control in the Baltic Sea. The audit was performed as a performance and compliance audit and covered the period 2005-2007.

2. The audit was divided into two parts: The first part was about environmental monitoring in the Baltic Sea and the second part was about fisheries management and control in the Baltic Sea.

3. The overall objective of the first part was to assess whether the signatory states of the Helsinki Convention are complying with the standards of the Cooperative Monitoring in the Baltic Marine Environment (COMBINE) and how the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) will affect national monitoring.

4. The overall objective of the second part was to conduct a review of fisheries management and control in the Baltic Sea.

5. The first and the second part of the audit share the following overall objective: How have the monitoring and fisheries control authorities contributed to preserve the marine environment and protect the fish stock in the Baltic Sea.

6. The relevant national legislation in the EU Member States is supposed to be within the frame set by the EU. However, the monitoring and fisheries management and control strategies may differ significantly among the individual countries, and comparative analyses may provide an overview of what is considered good practice. Furthermore, Russian fisheries legislation is, naturally, not adjusted to the EU-regulations. The Russian Federation’s national fishery legislation takes into consideration the requirements and provisions of nine international conventions and agreements related to fishery issues in the Baltic Sea. Moreover, Russia still adheres to the recommendations of the International Baltic Sea Fisheries Commission (IBSFC) in spite of the fact that it was dissolved in 2004.

7. The audit was planned and conducted as a parallel audit. A parallel audit means that the participating audit institutions audit the same audit objectives in their respective countries and identify relevant audit criteria and audit methods together. However, it is up to the individual supreme audit institution to decide how to conduct the audit and which audit criteria and audit methods to apply in the audit. The Joint Final Report is prepared on the basis of the data provided by the participating supreme audit institutions.

Abstract of the Joint Audit Report on Quality review in higher education in the Netherlands and in Belgium
Report ID: 277

The important implications of the Bologna Process, which aims to create a European Higher Education Area, have been highlighted by the Court of Auditors and the European Court of Auditors.

Court of Auditors to undertake a joint review of the operation of the system of quality assurance in higher education. The quality of higher education is important for the development of the knowledge economy and thus for the international economic position of the Netherlands and Flanders.

The aim of this research was to contribute to the good functioning of quality assurance in higher education in the Netherlands and Flanders

The audit questions addressed were:

- Is there a system of internal quality assurance that is aimed at measuring, improving and thus maintaining the quality of the higher level education as found in the accreditation process?

- How does external quality assurance work and does it lead to well-founded quality assurance accreditations?

- Do the institutions involved in the accreditation have an insight into the costs of quality assurance?

- Does the Minister supervise internal and external quality assurance?

35 study programmes were selected for this study: 18 in the Netherlands and 17 in Flanders, each divided between three universities and three colleges.


Summary of the parallel audit conducted by the Office of the Auditor General of Norway and the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation
Report ID: 284

Unregistered fishing and the illegal harvesting of fish in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea, and the challenges these have set for the fishing authorities’ control work, have been central topics in the discussions of the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission in recent years.

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) and the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation conducted a parallel audit of the management of fish resources in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea from 2006 to 2007. The investigation was formally launched after an agreement of intent between the OAG and the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation was signed in January 2006.

The objective of the investigation has been to assess goal achievement and the efficiency and effectiveness of national follow-up and implementation of bilateral agreements between Russia and Norway and decisions taken by the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries

The audit was performed in parallel in the sense that common general audit questions and audit criteria were defined and the same outline used for the reports. The two audit reports were written separately and on the basis of independent information. A major element in the parallel audit has been reciprocal learning, and emphasis has therefore been placed on detailed descriptions of the organisation and working methods of Norwegian fisheries management.

In the period January – April 2006, common goals, audit questions and general audit criteria were drawn up by means of a written dialogue between the parties. At the meeting in Moscow in May 2006, the parties arrived at common audit questions, and an agreement was signed in June 2006. The working parties met again in September in Norway to go through methodological approach and preliminary findings and to implement joint audit procedures.

In October 2006, the parties reached agreement on a common outline for the two reports. This chapter briefly presents the methods and analytical concepts that have been used to study the various audit questions (topics). The analysis rests largely on three types of source: official documents, statistical material and records of qualitative interviews. The contents of all interview records have been verified by the informants.

A joint memorandum was signed by the Auditors General of the two countries on 18 June 2007.