Quality review in higher education in the Netherlands and in Belgium (Flanders)
Report ID: 18

The Dutch and Belgian Court of Audit found in a joint examination that quality review in higher education both in the Netherlands and in Belgium is highly developed. However, the functioning of quality assurance in educational institutions themselves could be improved in several aspects.

The process of accreditation by the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation organisation (NVAO) has been duly set up. The appraisal contained in inspection reports remains, however, often too procedural by nature and the evidenced-based approach is not always sufficiently elaborated. However, the NVAO is left to base its accreditation decision on these inspection reports.

(Report in Flemish)

Quality review in higher education in the Netherlands and in Belgium. Joint follow-up report
Report ID: 19

The innovations in the quality education system in higher education introduced in the Netherlands and Flanders give the opportunity to focus more attention on the content aspects of the education quality and at the final level of students. However, the review reports, which assess a program, are not always appropriate in terms of compliance and substantiation of judgments. This implies that the poorly scoring aspects of a program remain invisible. The accreditation organization NVAO can easily find additional information to be more critical. However, the differences in quality surveillance between Flanders and the Netherlands are increasing. This sets the Dutch Court of Auditors and the Belgian Court of Auditors in the joint research report Quality Assurance in Higher Education in the Netherlands and Flanders, published on September 12, 2013. This is a follow-up to similar joint research from 2008.

(Report in Flemish)

Audit parallel on Intra Community VAT Fraud
Report ID: 133

1.1 Background to the joint audit

The current vat system in the European Union provides opportunities for intra Community fraud that all Member States have to deal with. In a resolution of 12 December 2006, the Contact Committee expressed support for its vat Working Group’s recommendation to encourage Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) to exercise bi and multilateral cooperation in this area. In response to this recommendation, in March 2007 the Netherlands Court of Audit invited Germany’s Supreme Audit Institution (Bundesrechnungshof) and the Belgian Court of Audit (Rekenhof) to participate in an investigation into intra-Community vat fraud.

This trilateral audit resulted in national reports for each of the three participating countries and in this joint report presenting the overall conclusions and recommendations supported by relevant audit observations. Institutions involved in tackling intra-Community vat fraud, at European level and in the Member States, may benefit from this report.

1.2 Explanation of intra-Community vat fraud

The EU Member States have a common vat system. Since the European internal market has been created in 1993, goods within the internal market can be traded freely and border controls have ceased to exist. A ‘temporary’ system was introduced for vat, whereby the zero rate applies to the supply of goods to another Member State. To be eligible for this zero rate, an entrepreneur must have a valid vat identification number and must be able to verify that its trading partner also has a valid vat identification number. In addition to the vat return, entrepreneurs must file a quarterly return of their intra-Community supplies so that they can be monitored.

The temporary vat system appears to be vulnerable to intra-Community fraud.

A simple form of fraud is the wrongful use of the zero rate by presenting a domestic supply as an intra-Community supply. The most common and widespread form of intra-Community vat fraud is ‘Missing Trader Intra-Community Fraud’ (mtic Fraud) or ‘Carousel fraud’. In the typical form of this fraud, a trader acquires goods from a trader in another EU Member State at the zero rate of vat. The trader sells on the goods within his own country and charges vat to the purchaser. The trader, however, does not remit this vat to the tax authorities and makes sure that he cannot be traced (‘missing trader’) if he is investigated. The receiver of the goods sells them on and reclaims the vat he has paid. The goods can then return to their country of origin via an intra-Community supply at the zero rate, so that the cycle can be repeated one or more times. This is why it is called carousel fraud.

1.3 Anti-vat fraud initiatives at EU level

For a number of years, the eu Member States, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council of the EU (Ecofin) and the European Commission (EC) have been discussing ways to counteract intra-Community vat fraud more effectively.6 The Commission has explored avenues for a coordinated strategy against tax fraud. In its meeting of 28 November 2006, Ecofin invited the Commission to prepare the elements of such a strategy in close cooperation with the Member States. In 2007, the Commission made an inventory of possible measures consisting of conventional measures within the existing VAT framework and more far-reaching measures, implying a change in the current system.

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.

Source: https://www.ccrek.be/EN/Publications/Fiche.html?id=72338820-a787-4361-8eeb-e87adf02c5e8

Purchase of Province-Guaranteed Bonds by the Carinthian Compensation Payment Fund
Report ID: 352

From March to October 2018, the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) and the Court of Audit of Carinthia carried out an audit of the agreement on the purchase of province-guaranteed bonds by the Carinthian Compensation Payment Fund (Kärntner Ausgleichszahlungs-Fonds) pursuant to Section 2a of the Financial Market Stability Act (Finanzmarktstabilitätsgesetz). In this context, the provincial parliament of Carinthia addressed an audit request to both the ACA and the Court of Audit of Carinthia.

The audit institutions performed the audit jointly in order to prevent a duplication of efforts. The audit aimed at presenting the initial situation and at assessing the development and structure as well as the approval, financing and implementation of the second offer. The auditors furthermore looked into the costs and the remaining economic risks. The audited period essentially spanned the years from 2015 through 2017. 

Central recommendations

  1. The Carinthian Compensation Payment Fund should step up its efforts in order to attain an adequate premium reduction for the liability insurance of the executive board.
  2. In the interest of encouraging competition and compliance with the principles of economy and efficiency, the Carinthian Compensation Payment Fund should award service contracts only via a public procurement process or after at least three reference offers have been solicited.
  3. As regards the negotiations with the Heta Asset Resolution AG (HETA), the Carinthian Compensation Payment Fund should, against the backdrop of the interim distributions that have in the meanwhile taken place, carry out a legal assessment of a rapid and appropriate write-down and the possibility of withdrawing the HETA securities in order to achieve a subsequent reduction in custodian fees.
  4. The province of Carinthia and the Carinthian Compensation Payment Fund should carry out an analysis of possible further steps of the hold-outs or other creditors, taking into consideration the cost-benefit ratio, or commission suitable lawyers or experts to ensure best possible pre-paredness for such judicial or extrajudicial steps.

Source: https://www.rechnungshof.gv.at/rh/home/news/news/news_1/Erwerb_von_landesbehafteten_Schuldtiteln_durch_den_Kaerntne.html