Auditing standards and the accountability of the European Court of Auditors (ECA)

Alex Brenninkmeijer, Gaston Moonen, Raphael Debets, Branislav Hock

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Abstract

External auditors, both in the private and in the public sector, provide information to citizens and other stakeholders. The quality of this information – their auditing products – relies on ‘standards’. Audits are governed by accounting standards that largely concern ‘best practices’ designed by private accountants’ associations. This raises the question of how these standards fit into the regulatory framework in which an external public auditor operates, for example administrative law. So far, little research has been published on the role of standards setting out the principles underlying the European Court of Auditors’ (ECA) approach to audits and the procedures to be employed. By describing the structure of these standards and comparing them against the EU legal framework, we argue that the ECA, which is based on constitutional law and EU law, mainly follows the private-sector financial auditing standards. Private standards are designed outside EU law: How can auditing standards determined by the private sector be better aligned with administrative law to reflect the realities of public-sector compliance auditing in the framework of the ECA? For issues more exclusively covered by public-sector auditors, such as performance audits, public-sector auditors have developed standards and guidelines themselves. This paper aims to enhance our understanding of the institutional complementarity between global private regulation (i.e. accounting and auditing standards) and public regimes (such as general principles of good administration).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalUtrecht Law Review
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2018

Keywords

  • audit
  • auditing
  • financial audit
  • compliance audit
  • standards
  • private and public sector auditors
  • informal law
  • European court of auditors
  • ECA
  • soft law
  • hard law
  • principles of good administration
  • audit principles,
  • trust
  • credability

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