Procedure : 2013/0813(NLE)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0050/2014

Texts tabled :


Debates :

Votes :

PV 04/02/2014 - 6.13
CRE 04/02/2014 - 6.13

Texts adopted :


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27 January 2014
PE 524.829v02-00 A7-0050/2014

on the nomination of Klaus Heiner Lehne as a Member of the Court of Auditors

(C7-0423/2013 – 2013/0813(NLE))

Committee on Budgetary Control

Rapporteur: Inés Ayala Sender



on the nomination of Klaus Heiner Lehne as a Member of the Court of Auditors

(C7-0423/2013 – 2013/0813(NLE))


The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C7-0423/2013),

–   having regard to Rule 108 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A7-0050/2014),

A. whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 23 January 2014 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Klaus Heiner Lehne as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Born in Düsseldorf on 28 October 1957

Education and professional activity

1976               School-leaving examination in Erkrath

1976 - 1978   Studied physics and philosophy in Düsseldorf

1978 - 1983   Studied law in Freiburg, Cologne and Bonn

1980               Studied in Berkeley, USA

1983               1st degree in law (Staatsexamen) in Düsseldorf

1986               2nd degree in law (Staatsexamen) in Düsseldorf

since 1986      Practising law in Düsseldorf, currently a partner at Taylor-Wessing

Public offices and duties

1977-1979     Local councillor for the Mitte district, Düsseldorf

1984-1992     City councillor in Düsseldorf, amongst other things sitting on the finance, audit, youth welfare and planning committees, and on the supervisory council

for municipal works

1992-1994     Member of the German Bundestag, amongst other things sitting on the legal affairs and transport committees, and a member of the trust agency


Treuhand) investigation committee and the SED inquiry

Since 1994      Member of the European Parliament, Member of the Committee on Legal Affairs

1999-2009     Coordinator of the EPP Group in the Committee on Legal Affairs

Since 2009      Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Chair of the Conference of Committee Chairs


Since 2004      Lectures on European law at the Universities of Düsseldorf and Cologne


Professional experience

1. Please highlight the main aspects of your professional experience in public finance, management or management auditing.

I familiarised myself with the basic principles of the state budget while studying law. Public law was part of my training and was one of the main examination topics in both of my law degrees. This included Federal German budgetary law and the corresponding law of the Länder and municipalities. I gained my first professional experience in the area of the state budget as a trainee lawyer dealing with budgetary and financial issues in a local authority. During my subsequent activity as a city councillor in the regional capital, Düsseldorf (with a population of around 600 000 and a current budget of around EUR 2.7 billion), I was a member of the finance committee and the audit committee, as well as the committee responsible for the awarding of construction contracts and the youth welfare committee, where I was involved in decisions and audits concerning the social, youth and family budget. I also sat on municipal supervisory boards during this time, including the supervisory board of the Stadtwerke Düsseldorf utility company, which was at that time already one of the top 300 companies in the Federal Republic of Germany. Here too, issues relating to accounting law were one of the focal points of my activity.

During my term of office in the German Bundestag I was a member, inter alia, of the Trust Agency (Treuhand) Investigation Committee set up to look into the trust agency’s activities in dealing with the former state property of the GDR. Irregularities had come to light in relation to the use of federal funds, and these had to be investigated. As a member of the Transport Committee of the German Bundestag I was involved in the privatisation of transport companies and the planning of federal transport routes. As a member of the Legal Committee of the German Bundestag I drew up reports on a large number of federal laws on fees and costs.

During my term of office as a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs, my political group has entrusted me with the role of rapporteur or shadow rapporteur for virtually all legislative projects in the field of accounting law in the past 20 years. Most recently, I was rapporteur for the complete overhaul of the fourth and seventh Company Law Directives, concerning the basic rules of European accounting law.

Since the Conference of Committee Chairs, which I also chair, has been given the task of supervising the regulatory impact assessment to be carried out by Parliament’s services, I have also been intensively involved with these matters for many years. This plays a particularly significant role in relation to assessing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the implementation of European legislation and programmes.

I have also been giving lectures for many years at the Universities of Düsseldorf and Cologne. At the University of Cologne, I have in particular given lectures on aspects of European economic law for economic lawyers. My lectures at the University of Düsseldorf focus on matters of general legal policy, including developments in European public law.

In my capacity as Chair of the Düsseldorf CDU I am currently a member of two municipal supervisory boards, namely the supervisory board of the Messegesellschaft Düsseldorf, which is the company responsible for the Düsseldorf trade fairs, and of the Düsseldorf multipurpose arena. Issues related to public finance play a key role in both of these posts. I am also a long-standing member of the advisory board of the ARAG insurance company.

2. What are the three most important decisions to which you have been party in your professional life?

- The adoption of the money-laundering directive

As rapporteur, I was able to secure a clear improvement in the quality of the fight against money laundering by including other undertakings and occupations outside the financial sector. The debates and negotiations involved a difficult balancing act, since on the one hand the fight against money laundering had to be effective, whilst on the other hand fundamental rights had to be protected. In the wake of the events of September 2001 and the ensuing incorporation of the fight against terrorism, extremely difficult negotiations with the Belgian Council Presidency led to a compromise whose basic elements have endured to this day. The third money-laundering directive essentially extends this compromise. The same is true of the fourth money-laundering directive, which has been proposed but not yet adopted by the legislator.

- German reunification

I also attach particular importance to my membership of the German Bundestag in the first parliamentary term following German reunification. As a member of the Legal Affairs Committee, I was involved in a series of projects aimed at adapting East German law to the future legislation for the whole of Germany. I worked on a large number of acts adapting contract and property law. This was crucial for the success of German reunification.

- Nursery school building programme

As Vice-Chair of Düsseldorf city council’s youth welfare committee, in the 1980s I helped develop the investment model to promote the construction of nursery schools. As a result, the city of Düsseldorf succeeded in rapidly increasing the number of nursery school places available and meeting the legal requirements on nursery provision well ahead of time.


3. The Treaty stipulates that the Members of the Court of Auditors shall be ‘completely independent’ in the performance of their duties. How would you act on this obligation in the discharge of your prospective duties?

I will give up all my outside activities, including my work as a lawyer. This is stipulated with good reason by European primary and secondary law. The independence of Members of the Court of Auditors is a vital precondition for the institution’s ability to operate. If, in the course of my duties as a Member of the Court of Auditors, I were to be concerned with a matter that could lead to an actual or potential conflict of interest, or even a matter which might give rise to an appearance of a conflict of interest, I would ask the President of the Court of Auditors to relieve me of those tasks and assign them to other Members of the Court of Auditors. If I am appointed as a Member of the Court of Auditors, I will also continue to be prudent when taking up any activities after my term of office comes to an end, in order to protect the institution’s reputation.

4. Have you been granted discharge for the management duties you carried out previously, if such a procedure applies?

The duties I carried out previously were not subject to a discharge procedure.

5. Do you have any business or financial holdings or any other commitments which might conflict with your prospective duties? Are you prepared to disclose all your financial interests and other commitments to the President of the Court and make them public? If you are involved in any current legal proceedings, would you please give details?

I have no business or financial holdings which might conflict with my prospective duties as a Member of the Court of Auditors. There are no other commitments which could lead to such a conflict. I will also give up my partnership in the Taylor Wessing law firm on taking up my duties at the Court of Auditors. I am of course prepared to disclose all my financial interests and all my commitments to the President of the Court and make them public. I am not involved in any current legal proceedings.

6. Are you prepared to step down from any elected office or give up any active function with responsibilities in a political party after your appointment as Court Member?


7. How would you deal with a major irregularity or even fraud and/or corruption case involving persons in your Member State of origin?

I would deal with such a case in exactly the same way as a case involving persons from other Member States or third countries. I would naturally comply strictly with the relevant legal provisions, in particular the internal rules of the Court.

Performance of duties

8. What should be the main features of a sound financial management culture in any public service?

Any person handling public money must comply with the relevant laws and other legal provisions strictly and consistently. This is taxpayers’ money, and it must be used extremely carefully and in accordance with the law. Citizens are entitled to this. Consequently, Article 30 of the Financial Regulation stipulates that appropriations must be used in accordance with the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

Inefficiency in the raising and use of public funds is one of the causes of the current crisis. It is essential that Parliament and the Court of Auditors exercise adequate control over the spending and revenue practices of public administration in order to guarantee the efficient use of appropriations and the reliability and accountability of public administration vis-à-vis citizens. This requires the greatest possible transparency. Administrative action and the budget must be consistent.

9. Under the Treaty, the Court is required to assist Parliament in exercising its powers of control over the implementation of the budget. How would you describe your duties with regard to reporting to the European Parliament and, in particular, its Committee on Budgetary Control?

Parliament as a budgetary authority is responsible for granting discharge to the various branches of the administration at European level. A key tool in preparing the discharge decision is the audit report drawn up by the Court of Auditors. According to the Treaty, the Court of Auditors provides a service to Parliament and citizens. Alongside guaranteeing greater transparency, its main duty is to help Parliament carry out its tasks of control over the administration. It is clear in this context that particular priority should be given to requests made by Parliament or its committees, especially the Committee on Budgetary Control, when the Court’s strategy is being decided.

10. What added value do you think performance auditing brings and how should the findings be incorporated in management procedures?

Performance auditing can establish whether the appropriations available are indeed being used properly, i.e. economically, efficiently and effectively. It is particularly useful in guaranteeing the effective use of resources in the long term, and it is therefore an important supplement to the financial and compliance audit. In my view, the Court of Auditors – like other Courts of Auditors across the world – should therefore focus even more on assessing the suitability and efficiency of both legislative instruments and the ensuing administrative action, in addition to auditing the figures. Naturally, the Court of Auditors does not decide on the legislative or administrative conclusions. This is the task of the legislative or executive branch. However, the Court of Auditors can and should – in its special reports, for example – issue corresponding recommendations to the legislator or the administration in keeping with its current findings and assessments. It should also do more to describe and assess the consequences of legal provisions in the context of an ex-post evaluation, and where necessary make specific proposals for improvements.

11. How could cooperation between the Court of Auditors, the national audit institutions and the European Parliament (Committee on Budgetary Control) on auditing of the EU budget be improved?

I cannot give a conclusive answer to this question at present, since I cannot assess the matter from the point of view of either the Committee on Budgetary Control or the Court of Auditors. I will first need to gain corresponding practical experience at the Court of Auditors. It is clear that the cooperation between the Court of Auditors and national audit bodies laid down in Article 287(3) TFEU is extremely important for effective budgetary control. With regard to shared management in particular, use should evidently be made of the expertise of national auditors. A draft report by the Committee on Budgetary Control on the future role of the Court of Auditors and the amendments tabled to that report provide a large number of useful recommendations with the aim of improving cooperation. We will need to give detailed consideration to ways of better coordinating the methodology and timetable and developing joint audits. It is vital that the European Parliament (Committee on Budgetary Control) should also be involved in these issues and that it should not leave future decisions to the Supreme Audit Institutions alone. Any measures taken must respect the legal framework of cooperation, namely the obligation to cooperate in good faith on the one hand and the independence of both the Court of Auditors and national audit bodies on the other.

Other questions

Would you withdraw your candidacy if Parliament’s opinion on your appointment as Member of the Court were unfavourable?

Yes. I have been a member of this House for 20 years and a member of parliament for 22 years. The European Parliament has given me responsible tasks, appointing me Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs and of the Conference of Committee Chairs. It has entrusted me with the task of leading difficult interinstitutional negotiations, for example on interinstitutional agreements between Parliament and the Commission. I am grateful for these tasks and the opportunity I have been given to shape policy. My own position as a Member of the European Parliament and the respect I have for this House and my colleagues mean that, in such an event, I would ask my government to propose a different candidate for this post.


Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Marta Andreasen, Inés Ayala Sender, Zuzana Brzobohatá, Martin Ehrenhauser, Jens Geier, Ingeborg Gräßle, Eva Ortiz Vilella, Monika Panayotova, Bart Staes, Georgios Stavrakakis, Søren Bo Søndergaard, Derek Vaughan

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Karin Kadenbach, Ivailo Kalfin, Jan Olbrycht, Markus Pieper

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Burkhard Balz, Peter Jahr, Elisabeth Jeggle, Doris Pack, Hans-Gert Pöttering, Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, Axel Voss

Last updated: 28 January 2014Legal notice