Paul Stephenson presents research at European Court of Auditors

On Wednesday 20 April, Paul Stephenson presented his researchย on the historical development of audit governance in the EU to staff at the European Court of Auditors. The event, part of a staff training session organised by Mr Gilberto Moggia of the Court’s library, was attended by the Court’s president, Mr Vitor Manuel da Silva Caldeira (in the photo) and the Secretary-General, Mr Eduardo Ruiz Garcia, along with around 120 other staff members.

Paul presented the main arguments from this recent article ‘Sixty-five years of auditing Europe‘, which appeared in the recent special issue of the Journal of Contemporary European Research (JCER) on ‘Sixty Five Years of European Governance’, edited by Willem Maas (Glendon College, York University, Toronto) and Alexander Caviedes (State University of New York at Fredonia). He identified five key phases and four main turning points in the institutionalisation of audit and financial control in the Communities since the early 1950s. He also looked back at archival material to examine the key role played by the auditor for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the Court’s predecessor, the Audit Board of the European Communities (1959-1977), in shaping the audit norms and governance arrangements we know today. The Court itself, founded in 1977, will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year.

The two-hour event brought together Paul Stephenson and Maria Luisa Sanchez Barrueco (Deusto University, Bilbao), who talked about the future of the Court and reflected on its institutional status and how to interpret the Treaty with a view to further reform. Both are former grant holders from the scheme jointly run by the Court of Auditors in collaboration with the European University Institute archives in Florence. Paul and Maria have since (with Hartmut Aden in Berlin) developed EUFINACCO, an international, interdisciplinary network that brings together researchers working on issues related to financial accountability in the EU.

Paul’s paper followed on from the presentation by Laura Christine Ulrich, a lecturer in Bavarian history at LMU Munich, who was launching the English translation of her thesis on Heinrich Aigner, the former Bavarian member of the European Parliament who, within the then subcommittee on Budgets, pushed in the early 1970s for creation of an independent ‘European Audit Office’. He went on to become the first chair of the Budgetary Control committee and pushed for further mechanisms to tackle fraud. Her book ‘Roads to Europe’ provides a meticulously researched political biography of one of the founding fathers of the EU that has arguable been overlooked to date.

On 26-27 May, Paul will welcome 15-20 researchers to FASoS for the first of three workshops on financial accountability in the EU. This first event will be part financed by the faculty’s Research Stimulation Fund and partly by UACES, the University Association for Contemporary European Studies. EUFINACCO was previously recognised as an official UACES Collaborative Research Network. The workshop will involve faculty colleagues Aneta Spendzharova, who will give a paper, and Heidi Maurer who will chair a session. It will bring together junior scholars, including PhD students, alongside senior scholars and practitioners from the European Court of Auditors.

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