Procedure : 2021/0805(NLE)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A9-0005/2022

Texts tabled :

A9-0005/2022

Debates :

Votes :

PV 20/01/2022 - 3
CRE 20/01/2022 - 3

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2022)0005

<Date>{12/01/2022}12.1.2022</Date>
<NoDocSe>A9-0005/2022</NoDocSe>
PDF 247kWORD 89k

<TitreType>REPORT</TitreType>

<Titre>on the nomination of Jorg Kristijan Petrovič as a Member of the Court of Auditors</Titre>

<DocRef>(C9‑0408/2021 – 2021/0805(NLE))</DocRef>


<Commission>{CONT}Committee on Budgetary Control</Commission>

Rapporteur: <Depute>Olivier Chastel</Depute>

PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION
 ANNEX 1: CURRICULUM VITÆ OF JORG KRISTIJAN PETROVIČ
 ANNEX 2: ANSWERS BY JORG KRISTIJAN PETROVIČ TO THE QUESTIONNAIRE
 PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on the nomination of Jorg Kristijan Petrovič as a Member of the Court of Auditors

(C9‑0408/2021 – 2021/0805(NLE))

(Consultation)

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 (C9‑0408/2021),

 having regard to Rule 129 of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A9-0005/2022),

A. whereas, by letter of 5 November 2021, the Council consulted Parliament on the nomination of Jorg Kristijan Petrovič as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

B. whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control then 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;

C. whereas the committee subsequently held a hearing with the nominee on 10 January 2022, at which the nominee made an opening statement and then answered questions put by the members of the committee;

1. Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Jorg Kristijan Petrovič 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.


ANNEX 1: CURRICULUM VITÆ OF JORG KRISTIJAN PETROVIČ

WORK EXPERIENCE

 

Feb. 2013 - ongoing Member of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia - First Deputy President of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia

 

2004–2013 Supreme State Auditor, Head of the Department of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia for the Audit of the Budget, Justice and Political Parties

 

1999–2004  Chief finance and budget officer of the Municipality of Trzin

 

1996–1999  Audit assistant at the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia

 

 

EDUCATION

 

2004 Master of Science, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana (Accounting and Auditing)

 

1996 Bachelor degree, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana (Finance)

 

 

COMPETENCES

 

Native language 

Slovenian language

 

Foreign Languages

 

UNDERSTANDING

SPEAKING

WRITTEN COMMUNICATION

 

Listening comprehension

Reading comprehension

Speech communication

Voice messaging

 

English language 

C2

C2

C2

C2

C2

German language 

C1

C1

C1

C1

C1

Croatian language 

C1

C1

C1

C1

C1

 

Level: A1 and A2: Basic user - B1 and B2: Independent user - C1 and C2: Qualified user

Common European Language Framework

 

Communication competencies 

- I use excellent communication competencies as a Member of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia - First Deputy President of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia.

- I use excellent communication skills as a guest lecturer at the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, a lecturer at trainings and conferences organized by the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia, as a lecturer at seminars organized by Nebra doo, as a lecturer at lectures and conferences organized by the Center of Excellence in Finance in Ljubljana, Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, Goethe-Institut, EU Delegation in Ljubljana, Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia, Transparency International Slovenia.

- I use excellent communication skills in presenting the reports of the Court of Audit in the National Assembly and in the National Council.

- I use my excellent communication skills in presenting Court of Auditors reports at press conferences and in interviews with journalists.

- I acquired excellent communication competencies at the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia, as the Supreme State Auditor - Head of the Department for the Audit of the State Budget, Justice and Political Parties.

- I acquired excellent communication skills at the master’s degree in organization and management at the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana.

- I acquired excellent communication skills in the Municipality of Trzin as the Chief Finance and Budget officer.

- I used my excellent communication skills as the President of the Parents’ Council of the Bežigrad Gymnasium (school years 2017/18 and 2018/19).

 

Organizational / managerial competencies

 - I use excellent management competencies in a leading position, as the First Deputy President of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia, responsible for half of all audits for which the Court of Audit annually publishes approximately 90 audit and post-audit reports prepared by employees (auditors, supreme state auditors, legal service, Senate of the Court of Audit, proofreaders, designers) at the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia (over 130 employees).

- I acquired excellent organizational and managerial competencies at the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia, as the Supreme State Auditor - Head of the Department for the Audit of the State Budget, Justice and Political Parties (over 20 employees).

- I acquired excellent organizational and managerial skills in the Municipality of Trzin as the head of finance and budget.

- I used my excellent leadership skills as the President of the Parents’ Council of the Bežigrad Gymnasium.

- I used excellent leadership skills as the founder and leader of the civil initiative “Stop borrowing - change Article 149 of the Constitution”, which advocated for the introduction of the Fiscal Rule in Slovenian Constitution.

- I have used excellent organizational and managerial skills in several project and working groups at the Court of Audit, as well as with training organizers and international institutions.

 

Professional competencies 

- I possess excellent professional competencies in quality control, which I use in a leading position, as the First deputy president of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia, responsible for half of all audits of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia.

- I acquired excellent professional competencies in planning audits, conducting audits and preparing audit and post-audit reports at the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia, as the Supreme State Auditor - Head of the Audit Department of the State Budget, Justice and Political Parties.

- I used excellent planning competencies as the Coordinator of the preparation of the Court of Audit Strategy for the period 2013-2020 and in the preparation of the Annual Reports of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia and the Work Reports of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia.

- I used excellent organizational and coordination competencies in the organization of the Regional Conference on Participatory Budgets, organized by the Court of Audit in cooperation with GIFT - Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, for the countries of Central Europe and the Western Balkans in May 2017.

- I perfected my excellent work competencies as a member of the following working groups:

  National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia - Expert Group of the Constitutional Commission for the Amendment of Article 148 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia - Fiscal Rule (2012)

  EUROSAI-Contact Committee - Working Group on Public Audit Deficits (2011-2012).

  EUROSAI-Contact Committee - Working Group on Financial and Economic Crisis Measures Audits (od 2009-2013).

  EUROSAI-Contact Committee - Working Group on Common Auditing Standards and Comparable Audit Criteria (2009-2010).

  Task Force on ESMTreaty - European SAIs’ initiative to strengthen the external audit function regarding the ESM (2011-2012)

- As the Head of the Budget and Finance of the Municipality of Trzin, I acquired excellent competencies in the preparation of budgets, execution of budgets, budget accounting, preparation of supplementary budgets, preparation of semi-annual reports, preparation of balance sheets, preparation of annual reports and preparation of annual accounts.

 

Digital competencies 

SELF-EVALUATION

Information processing

Communication

Content creation

Security

Problem solving

Advanced user

Advanced user

Independent user

Basic user

Basic user

Digital competences - Self - assessment scale

 

- Good knowledge of MS Office tools (MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint).

 

 

EXTRA INFORMATION

 

Publications 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  Petrovič, J. K., ‘V pričakovanju ustavne presoje rebalansa proračuna’ (In Anticipation of the Constitutional Review of the Supplementary Budget), Delo, Gostujoče pero, COBISS.SI ID 40097029, Ljubljana, 2 April 2019

  Petrovič, J. K., Slovenia’s Structural Deficit Challenges: Slovenia – Social, Economic and Environmental Issues; editor: Frane Adam (ISBN 9781634859196; Chapter 9 - pages 131-147: ): Nova Publishers New York, Copyright 2017 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

  Petrovič, J. K., ‘Zdaj je čas za zmanjšanje javnega dolga!’ (Eng.: (Now is the Time to Reduce Public Debt!), Slovenski čas: časnik za družbo in kulturo, Družina newspaper supplement; ISSN 1855-9379 – No 80, December 2016, pp 4–5

  Petrovič, J. K., ‘Fiskalna prilagoditev za leto 2017 je premalo ambiciozna’ (The Fiscal Adjustment for 2017 Is Not Ambitious Enough), Finance, ISSN: 1318-1548 – No 233, 97, 23 May 2016, p. 9

  Vesel, T., Petrovič, J. K., Jereb, S., ‘Mnenje o javnofinančnem vprašanju glede pridobivanja kapitalskih naložb države in občin ter kapitalskih naložb pravnih oseb v njihovi lasti’ (Opinion on the Public Finance Issue Regarding the Acquisition of Capital Investments of the State and Municipalities and Capital Investments of Legal Entities Owned by Them); Conference Proceeding [electronic source] / ‘Izvajanje lokalnih javnih služb’ (Provision of Local Public Services), 31 May 2016, Ljubljana, Slovenia; editor Brezovnik B; Maribor, Faculty of Law, LeXonomica Press, 2016

  Petrovič, J. K., ‘Strukturni primanjkljaj – kaj je, kolikšen je in kaj lahko k njegovi odpravi prispeva novi ZJF?’ (Eng.: Structural Deficit – What Is It, How Much Is It and What Can the New Public Finance Act Contribute to Its Elimination?), Pravna praksa – PP: časopis za pravna vprašanja, ISSN 0352-0730 – Year 35, No 11, 17 March 2016, Annex, pp. II-VIII

  Petrovič, J. K., ‘Merjenje ‘višine poplav’: fiskalno pravilo nekoč in danes’ Measuring ‘flood height’: a fiscal rule then and now): Slovenski čas: časnik za družbo in kulturo, Družina newspaper supplement; ISSN 1855-9379 – No  64, December 2015, pp 10-11

  Petrovič, J. K., ‘Finančna transparentnost političnega delovanja in nadzor’ (Financial Transparency of Political Activities and its Supervision); ‘Zbornik 2015/1; dnevi prava zasebnosti in svobode izražanja’, (Information Publication 2015/1; Days of Law of Privacy and Freedom of Expression), Kranjska Gora, 9 and 10  April 2015

  Petrovič, J. K., Fiskalno pravilo je brez švicarske formule mrtvo (The Fiscal Rule is Dead without the Swiss Formula), Finance, ISSN 1318-1548 – No 233, 2 December 2014, pp 8

  Petrovič, J. K., Objektivnost dela računskega sodišča (Objectivity of the Work of the Court of Audit); ‘Zbornik: 20 let delovanja Računskega sodišča: neodvisnost, objektivnost, učinkovitost’ (Information Publication: 20 Years of Operation of the Court of Audit: Independence, Objectivity, Efficiency), Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia, 2014, Ljubljana, Littera picta

  Petrovič, J. K., ‘Poštenost računovodskih izkazov v javnem sektorju’ (Fairness of Financial Statements in the Public Sector); ‘Zbornik/45. simpozij o sodobnih metodah v računovodstvu, financah in reviziji’ (Information Publication / 45th Symposium on Modern Methods in Accounting, Finance and Audit), Ljubljana, 11 April  2013; edited by Turk, I., Association of Economists of Slovenia; Association of Accountants, Treasurers and Auditors of Slovenia, 2013, Ljubljana, Birografika Bori

  Petrovič, J. K., ‘Ko sanje postanejo realnost: zadolževanje države in zlato pravilo’ (When dreams become reality: state borrowing and the golden rule): Dnevnikov objektiv, ISSN: 1854-6781 – No 3, 21 January 2012, p. 14

  Petrovič, J. K., ‘Ustavno omejevanje javne porabe – načelo izravnanega proračuna in fiskalno pravilo’ Constitutional Restriction of Public Spending – the Principle of Balanced Budget and Fiscal Rule), Pravna praksa – časopis za pravna vprašanja, 30, 2011, 39–40, pp. 9–11

  Hočevar M., Zaman M. and Petrovič J. K., ‘Osnove računovodstva gospodarskega in javnega sektorja’ Fundamentals of Economic and Public Sector Accounting), Ljubljana, Faculty of Public Administration, 2008, 393 pages

  Petrovič, J. K., ‘Prevzem javne infrastrukture v knjige občin in vpliv na njihove proračune’ Taking Over Public Infrastructure in the Books of Municipalities – Influence on Their Budgets); ‘Zbornik referatov / XI. posvetovanje Računovodstvo v javnih podjetjih’ (Collection of papers / XI consultation entitled Accounting in Public Enterprises), Portorož, October 2008

  Petrovič, J.K., ‘Računovodsko evidentiranje različnih oblik javno-zasebnih partnerstev, 2. del’, (Accounting of Various Forms of Public-Private Partnerships, Part 2), Revizor, Vol. 19, 2008, No 6, pp. 23-40.

  Petrovič, J.K., ‘Računovodsko evidentiranje različnih oblik javno-zasebnih partnerstev,1. de’” (Accounting of Various Forms of Public-Private Partnerships, Part 1), Revizor, Vol. 19 (2008), No 5, pp. 26–40

 

Study stays abroad 

  Aug. 2014: Goethe-Institut, Hamburg, Germany. Training programme for senior officials from the EU, and for senior ministerial officials from EU Member States and other countries. Subject: EU – Hamburg.

  Sept. 2010: Goethe-Institut, Düsseldorf, Germany. Training programme for senior officials from the EU, and for senior ministerial officials from EU Member States and other countries. Subject: Domestic policy.

  Oct./ Nov. 2007: Goethe-Institut, Munich / Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Training programme for senior officials from the EU, and for senior ministerial officials from EU Member States and other countries. Subject: Budget and finance.

  Jun. 1998: National Audit Office, London, UK.

 

Aluminum memberships 

  Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

  Goethe-Institut, Germany

 

Conducted lectures, seminars, trainings, round tables

   ‘Razkritja, ukrepi in priporočila na področju turizma lokalnih skupnosti’ Disclosures, Measures and Recommendations in the Field of Local Community Tourism); Presentation of the Promotion of Tourism Development Act ( ZSTR-1) and the Decrees on Tourist Tax, Community of Municipalities of Slovenia; March 2018

  ‘Transparentnost proračuna Republike Slovenije: predstavitev rezultatov mednarodnega vprašalnika IBP’ (Transparency of the budget of the Republic of Slovenia: Presentation of the Results of the International Questionnaire from International Budget Partnership (IBP)), Centre of Excellence in Finance (CEF), Ljubljana, Round Table, February 2018

  ‘Kako izkoristiti potencial EU’ How to Exploit the EU potential) NEBRA, January 2018

  ‘Zaključni račun’ (Local Community Budget Report), NEBRA, January 2018

  ‘Nadzorni odbori in priprava poročil’ (Local Community Supervisory Committees and preparation of their Audit Reports), NEBRA, November 2017

  ‘Računsko sodišče’ (Court of Audit – How We Do It?), School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, October 2017

  ‘Zaključni račun’ (Local Community Budget Report), NEBRA, January 2017

  ‘Računovodstvo, računsko sodišče – interno izobraževanje’ (Accounting, Court of Audit – Internal Education), December 2016

  ‘Po labirintih občinskega računovodenja’ (In the Labyrinths of Municipal Accounting), NEBRA, December 2016

  Putting Public Debt on Leash, SDEVAL International Conference, Sarajevo, October 2016

  ‘Računsko sodišče’ (Court of Audit – How We Do It?), School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, October 2016

  Dialogue about the Controls on Debt and Public Expenditures (Seminar on Legislation on public Participation in the Budget Process, GIFT and Congreso General de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos), Mexico City, September 2016

  Fiscal Sustainability - Between Rules and Institutions, Contact Committee Working Group: Fiscal Audits, Brdo pri Kranju, May 2016

  ‘Fiskalno pravilo’ (Fiscal Rule), Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, May 2016

  ‘Nadzor nad ključnimi izzivi javnih financ (Control Over Key Public Finance Challenges), (‘Kako prenoviti davčni sistem, Dnevi računovodij 2016’ (How to Reform the Tax System, Days of Accountants 2016), Portorož, April 2016

  Business Ethics (International Business Weekend, Diocesan Classical Gymnasium), Šentvid, April 2016

  ‘Zadolževanje občin’ (Municipal Debt), NEBRA, March 2016

  ‘Strukturni primanjkljaj’ (Structural Deficit); (Congress on Public Law), February 2016

  Priprava zaključnega računa (Preparation of Local Community Budget Report), NEBRA, January 2016

  Laudato si (Round table, Cankarjev dom), Ljubljana, November 2015

  ‘Računsko sodišče’ (Court of Audit – How We Do It?), School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, October 2015

  ‘Transparentnost proračuna Republike Slovenije: predstavitev rezultatov mednarodnega vprašalnika IBP’ (Transparency of the budget of the Republic of Slovenia: Presentation of the Results of the International Questionnaire from International Budget Partnership (IBP)), Centre of Excellence in Finance (CEF), Ljubljana, Round Table, September 2015

  ‘Po labirintih občinskega računovodenja’ (In the Labyrinths of Municipal Accounting), NEBRA, September 2015

  ‘Nadzorni odbori občin’ (Local Community Supervisory Committees), NEBRA, September 2015

  ‘Kako se izvede nadzor in izdela poročilo nadzornega odbora občine’ Local Community Supervisory committees – How to conduct an Audit and how to write an Audit Report), NEBRA, September 2015

  ‘Nadzorni odbori občin’ (Local Community Supervisory Committees), NEBRA, June 2015

  ‘Nadzorni odbori občin – kako se izvede revizija’ (Local Community Supervisory Committees – How to Conduct an Audit), NEBRA, June 2015

  ‘Transparentnost financiranja političnih strank in volilnih kampanj’ (Transparency of Financing of Political Parties and Election Campaigns), Transparency and Freedom of Expression Days, Kranjska Gora, April 2015

  ‘Zakon o volilni in referendumski kampanji – finančno pravna vprašanja z vidika organizatorja’ (Election and Referendum Campaign Act – Financial and Legal Issues from the Election Campaign Organiser’s Point of View), Ljubljana District Court, February 2015

  Fiskalno pravilo (Fiscal Rule), Slovenian Business Club, January 2015

  ‘Nadzorni odbori občin’ (Local Community Supervisory Committees), NEBRA, January 2015

  ‘Zaključni račun’ (Local Community Budget Report), NEBRA, January 2015

  ‘Računsko sodišče’ (Court of Audit – How We Do It?), School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, October 2014

  ‘Monitoring lokalnih volitev’ (Local Elections Monitoring), Transparency International Slovenia, September 2014

  ‘Lokalne volitve – finančni vidik občin in organizatorjev kampanj’ (Local Elections – Financial Aspect of Municipalities and Campaign Organisers), NEBRA, June 2014

  ‘Fiskalno pravilo’ ▪  (Fiscal Rule), Rotary Club Medvode, March 2014

  ‘Zaključni račun’ (Local Community Budget Report), NEBRA, January 2014

  Strengthening Supreme Audit Institutions – Slovenian Experience, Centre of Excellence in Finance (CEF), Ljubljana, January 2014

  ‘Strategija Računskega sodišča RS’ Strategy of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia, Educational Day of the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia, December 2013

  ‘Računsko sodišče’ (Court of Audit – How We Do It?), School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, October 2013

  ‘Nadzorni odbori občin’ (Local Community Supervisory Committees), NEBRA, September 2013

  Long Term Fiscal Sustainability of the State Budgets, Contact Committee Working Group: Fiscal Audits, Potsdam, Germany, June 2013

  ‘Fiskalno pravilo’ (Fiscal Rule), Rotary Club Ljubljana, February 2012

 

Other activities

  Running: Ljubljana Marathon, 42 km - October 2009

  Hiking: Camino de Santiago (Saint Jean Pied de Port - Santiago de Compostela - Finisterre), 800+ km - April and May 2019

  Mountaineering: Julian Alps, Karavanks, Kamnik-Savinja Alps, Carnic Alps, Hohe Tauern,...


 

ANNEX 2: ANSWERS BY JORG KRISTIJAN PETROVIČ TO THE QUESTIONNAIRE

Questionnaire for Candidates for Membership of the Court of Auditors

Professional experience

 

1. Please describe your professional experience in public finance, be it in budgetary planning, budget implementation or management, or budget control or auditing.

Budgets are my life. For more than 20 years I have been involved in either budget drafting or budget revision.

In addition to my direct experience in budget preparation, budget implementation, budget amendment, implementation reporting, and budget auditing, I have been involved in broader budget-related activities. In my career, I have faced the challenges of designing a budgetary and accounting information system, of drafting budgetary, accounting, and auditing legislation, and of managing broader national economic balances, which are impacted considerably by fiscal policy.

My first professional exposure to budgets and an opportunity for me to take a deep dive came as early as 1998–1999, when I was invited to join a working group which, at that time, in the early years of the Court of Auditors of the Republic of Slovenia (hereafter referred to as the Slovenian Court of Auditors), was working on a new approach to the audit of the national budget. In this group, I was in charge of designing a model for the statistical evaluation of the irregularities detected, a model that would enable us to issue an audit opinion, and of the related planning of the audit sample (described in detail in Section 2.a).

In mid-1999, I took up a new challenge and became the Head of the Finance and Budget Department of the then newly established Local Authority of Trzin. Beginning with a single computer, and within a few years we developed an IT system comparable, in terms of the number of functions it performed, to that of the national budget IT system (described in detail in point 2.b). During my five years in office, I planned or directly managed the preparation of five local authority budgets and several amending budgets. Throughout this period, I was directly responsible for the implementation of the local authority budget, from preparing the necessary documentation for each disbursement through ensuring the smooth working of the entire disbursement authorisation process to the direct payment of each disbursement and the related budget and accounting recording. I have ensured proper budgetary, accounting, and statistical reporting at half-yearly and year-end closures (including during any amendments made).

In 2004, I returned to the Slovenian Court of Auditors at invitation. Initially, I spent a year in charge of the Local Authority Audit Department, in which role I was again confronted with several local authority budgets that were being audited. Some of our disclosures also concerned budget planning, implementation, accountability, borrowing, etc., and we requested response reports on many of them so that we could rectify the irregularities found. Where this was not possible, we made recommendations to prevent similar irregularities from occurring in the future.

In 2005, I took over the National Budget Audit Department at the Slovenian Court of Auditors. For the next 8 years, I directly planned and managed the audits of the budget accounts for 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Each year, the process was a continuous one, forming as it did an integral (final) part of the budget cycle.

In December and January of each year, we developed an audit plan and related programmes for all audit areas. At the beginning of January, part of our audit team took on the task of analysing provisional electronic data on the previous year’s budget transactions, conducting audit sampling at the same time. The work of the field audit teams on each direct budget appropriation was then followed up based on the audit units selected in the sample. At the end of March each year, the Slovenian Ministry of Finance submits final national budget accounts to the Court of Auditors. This is when we compared the data originally captured with the final data. All identified discrepancies were considered for (any possible) corrections to the audit sample. Any dilemmas were resolved at coordination meetings, either within our teams or within the department, or with the assistance of the Legal Affairs Office of the Slovenian Court of Auditors.

From the receipt of the first audit findings sent in by our audit teams based on official records to the beginning of June, the heads of the individual audit sections prepared the draft audit report. Exploratory meetings with the auditees were held at the end of June, and the Chamber of the Slovenian Court of Auditors decided on their objections in the last week of July. The audit report was published in September to enable the Slovenian Government to send the accounts and the related audit report to the National Assembly before 1 October of the year in question, as is required by law.

In 2013, I was elected First Deputy President of the Slovenian Court of Auditors and member of a three-member Chamber. As a competent member of the Chamber, I carried out my responsibilities during the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2020 audits of the annual national budget accounts.

The audit planning stage saw us coordinating the content of audit plans and programmes, within the set timeframes. When drafting the audit report, we coordinated the disclosures of errors and irregularities in the draft. After exploratory meetings with the auditees were held, we coordinated:

- the disclosures of errors and irregularities,

- the adjustments required by the auditor (needed to correct accounting errors),

- the corrective action required (needed to remedy the irregularities), and

- the recommendations made in the draft audit report.

The post-audit stage involved coordinating the assessment of the credibility and satisfactory implementation of the actions to be carried out by the auditees in line with the requirements we had set out in the audit report.

From 2004 to the present day, I have on several occasions been involved in the drafting of amendments to relevant background legislative acts: the Slovenian Public Finance Act and the Slovenian Accounting Act.

I also contributed to the enshrinement of the fiscal rule in the Slovenian Constitution and to the drafting of the related implementing law – the Slovenian Fiscal Rule Act (described in detail in Section 2.c).

Throughout my career, working both at local authority level as a direct budget planner, implementer, and rapporteur, and at national level as a budget accounts auditor, I have actively advocated and helped to implement the idea of maximising budgetary transparency, and the idea of maximising the involvement of citizens in all stages of the budget cycle (from planning, through implementation and reporting, to auditing).

I have always advocated a high level of transparency of political party operations, too, both as Supreme State Auditor– Head of the Budget and Political Parties Audit Department – and later as First Deputy President of the Slovenian Court of Auditors. Not only has the Slovenian Court of Auditors audited the operations of political parties, it has also actively participated in the drafting of all legislation in this particular field, either indirectly – through findings in their audit reports – or directly through comments on draft laws and regulations.

Active promotion of transparency in both areas – the national budget and the operations of political parties – has led to information solutions that provide citizens with a deeper insight into the dealings of political parties and the government. In terms of the national budget, Slovenian citizens are now able to even monitor the revenue and expenditure of our national budget on a daily basis (please see: National Budget (gov.si)).

The promotion of active citizen participation in the preparation of local authority budgets has resulted, over several years, in an increasing number of local authorities opting for participatory budgeting procedures (I explore this in greater detail in Section 2.b).

In 2019, as a public finance expert, I contributed to the Commentary on the Slovenian Constitution, commenting on Articles 150 and 151. (Source: e-KURS – Commentary on the Slovenian Constitution; Article 150 – e-KURS; Article 151 – e-KURS).

2. What have been your most significant achievements in your professional career?

I would like to highlight the following:

2a. Setting up a model for the audit of Slovenia’s annual national budget accounts

In the first part of my career at the Slovenian Court of Auditors (1998-1999), I was a member of the project team that developed a new approach to the audit of Slovenia’s national budget accounts. These were the early years of the Slovenian Court of Auditors, during which much had to be newly built. Established under a special law in 1994, the Slovenian Court of Auditors started working on 1 January 1995. Auditing the national budget was a key priority since the Slovenian Court of Auditors Act stipulates that a statutory audit must be conducted annually. The deadline by which the audit report must be published is 1 October of the relevant year.

The members of our project team received background guidance at the National Audit Office (NAO) in London, UK, where we were selected to participate in a one-month training course in 1998. Following our return to Slovenia, preparations began to develop an approach for auditing the national budget – one that would ensure the provision of audit opinions on the regularity of implementation for each ministry audited, as well as for the budget as a whole, in the context of an audit report.

Within the team, I was in charge of developing a scientific approach to be applied to the process of planning the necessary scope of audit work and the subsequent evaluation of the results of audit findings. In keeping with the guidance received from my UK colleagues at the NAO and the guidance from the then President of Slovenian Court of Auditors, Prof. Dr Vojko Antončič, I examined, adapted and implemented the monetary unit sampling (MUS) system for the purposes of the budget audit. This system is used for complience audits by most supreme audit institutions, most commercial audit firms and, last but not least, by the European Court of Auditors in designing the Statement of Assurance (the DAS or déclaration d’assurance, as it is referred to in French).

The audit model set up at that time is still in use today at the Slovenian Court of Auditors. It is used for the annual audit of the national budget. The audit model involves capturing electronic data from the auditee (a database of all transactions obtained from the Slovenian Ministry of Finance), processing this data using the IDEA computer program, designing audit samples using the monetary unit sampling method (since 2007 onwards, only the sample relating to the implementation of the entire budget has been included because a decision was taken at the time to discontinue individual ministry opinions), and the evaluation of the results for the purposes of forming an audit opinion, which are derived from a statistical estimate of the most likely error rate, while providing lower and upper bounds for this estimate (based on the condition that these estimates are 95% reliable).

The Slovenian Court of Auditors expresses two opinions in its annual statutory audits of the national budget, one concerning the correctness of reporting and one concerning the correctness of implementation. Since the early days of Slovenia’s budget accounts audits, one of the Court of Auditors’ key objectives has been to achieve an error rate below the materiality threshold. In terms of the accuracy of the accounts, the target was met for the 2019 and 2020 accounts. This success is the result of concerted effort over several years, both by the Slovenian Court of Auditors (with its annual audit disclosures, required actions, and proposed corrections) and by the Slovenian Ministry of Finance, in particular the Budgetary Accounting Department, which is constantly upgrading the internal controls system and completing the necessary regulations.

I am truly delighted to have been able to play an active part in the pursuit of this objective and am sincerely grateful to all those involved that we have been able to achieve it.

2b. Developing a financial information system for a new local authority

In June 1999, as part of my career outside the Slovenian Court of Auditors, I took up the post of Head of Finance in the newly established local authority of Trzin. The underlying challenges of local public finances are not so different to those of national public finances. From experience I can say that they match in more than 90 % of scenarios. Fundamentally, the difference is the size and volume of financial transactions, meaning that a local authority system has to cover virtually all the processes covered by the Slovenian Ministry of Finance at national level, but within a far more limited scope. The key difference lies only in some aspects of the treasury, where local authorities are severely restricted by law.

As Head of Finance in a newly created local authority, I faced the challenge of setting up a budgetary and accounting system from bottom up. Like national budgets, local authority budgets, too, go through several phases.

Phase 1 is the budgeting phase. The first step was to design and set up a system within the IT system of the Finance and Budget Department – one that would enable the preparation of draft budgets for the first and second readings by the Local Council. The system was subsequently upgraded to enable the preparation of two-year budgets and multi-annual investment commitments or development plans, as they are referred to. The budget planning system was designed in such a way as to allow for the greatest possible automation in advancing the decisions taken to the budget implementation phase. In view of the new local authority’s limited resources (both human and financial), and to ensure as high as possible a cost effectiveness, single data entry was established as one of the basic principles in the earliest stages of planning the IT system’s design. The budgeting system was set up in such a way as to support transparent planning for each economic area and for each programme and sub-programme – all the way down to the individual budget heading and the individual six-digit account. As early as this phase, links were provided to all the translation tables set up for the various needs of the financial-budgetary reporting phase (monthly reports for the Slovenian Ministry of Finance, semi-annual reports for the local council, amending budget reports, annual balance sheets, budget accounts, statistical reports for the Slovenian Statistical Office, the Bank of Slovenia, etc.)

Phase 2 is the budget implementation phase, which is most tightly intertwined with the accounting part of the financial accounting system. A local authority’s mayor – as the head of the executive branch of local government, as the head of the local authority, and as the main person responsible for implementing the local authority’s budget – must be provided, on a daily basis, with the information needed to take all decisions that have any financial implications (short, medium or long-term) for the local authority. This means that the system provided an overview of the appropriations available for commitment to each budget heading at any given time. The information for each budget heading included an indication of the level of the budget heading in the adopted budget and information on any additional appropriations transferred to each budget heading (the current budget), information on liabilities already paid for each budget heading, information on invoices received and due for payment within the next 30 days (the mandatory time-limit for payment), information on contracts concluded or orders already placed, and information on the balance of appropriations available (not yet encumbered or pre-encumbered) for each budget heading. The budget reporting system constituted an integral part of the accounting system, from which all necessary information was extracted. The accounting system was not only designed to provide information for budget implementation (expenditure) purposes, but also to collect all information on budgetary inflows. It consisted of several different modules deployed at either end (expenditure and revenue). At the revenue end, the system automatically created the jurnal entry for the recording of all revenue – either revenue from tax accounts or revenue from invoices issued by the local authority for rent or property sold – based on the electronic capture of data from the payment records of the local authority’s accounts. Here again, the system was set up on the basis of the single data entry principle because the data for the preparation of the journal entry for receipts from the invoices issued was extracted from the databases already created when the invoices were issued. The same was true on the expenditure side, where data for the creation of the journal entry was extracted from payment transactions and matched with data that populated the IT databases when contracts were entered into, or orders executed. In addition, special modules for payroll and travel accounting and a module for the accounting of meeting allowances and royalties were linked to expenditure. Keystone of the system was the accounting record of assets and equity/liabilities, needed to draw up the local authority’s balance sheet and asset statement.

Phase 3 is the reporting phase, for which data was captured from all the records listed above. At the half-year and year-end, as well as at the time of budget amendment, this data was compiled in the form of a report on the budget outturn. At the end of the balance sheet year, it was compiled for budget reporting purposes.

The period during which we developed the system from root to branch was intense and tiring. However, working out the most efficient solutions brought me a great deal of satisfaction. It was important that the mayor had confidence in me and that he gave me free rein to design/plan the system or to commission programmers to program individual modules. Thanks to a high level of computerisation and integration of the various sub-systems, our Finance and Budget Department successfully coped with staffing and cost constraints throughout the period.

I therefore still consider this project a great success – it achieved all its objectives (we did the right things). I also consider it efficient because it showed a high ratio of impact (timely and good quality information) to cost – meaning we did things the right way.

Even after my return to the Slovenian Court of Auditors, I spent many years transferring knowledge and good practices through various lectures, in particular by pointing out the most common errors in local authority governance.

In the most recent period (2015 onwards), I have also promoted the vision of budgetary transparency and higher involvement of citizens in the budgetary processes - participatory budgeting.

I believe that citizens’ declining interest in public action or participation in democratic processes, which has resulted in a declining voter turnout (electoral absenteeism) across Europe, can be addressed by opening the door to direct democracy.

The aspiration of participatory budgets rests on three pillars – the transparency and accessibility of budget data, people’s influence on budget decisions, and a high budget literacy. All three pillars are interlinked. Experience shows that the number of citizens involved in participatory budgeting processes increases year on year only if they are provided with positive feedback, i.e. if they can see tangible results of their work. A high level of public awareness, transparency, and accessibility of budget data is essential to enable citizens to plan and monitor the implementation of their ideas through budget cycles. Hot on the heels of being well informed and seeing the fruit of their labour comes the citizens’ desire for higher levels of budgeting skills, which, in terms of interaction, will result, over the following years, in even greater engagement of those already involved, the involvement of new individuals, and more constructive solutions for the benefit of the local community as a whole. When people feel that they are no longer excluded from direct decision-making about their environment, they become more engaged in other public affairs – not least in political process, either as candidates in elections or as voters.

2c. Establishing the Fiscal Rule and the Fiscal Council

In the National Budget Audit Department of the Slovenian Court of Auditors (which I headed from 2005 to 2013), we carried out audits to identify the rapid increase in public debt. The rise in public debt was keenly felt in the aftermath of the global economic crisis that hit the country in 2008. (Sources: 2008 Audit Report: https://www.rs-rs.si/fileadmin/user_upload/revizija/365/Javni_dolg.pdf; 2013 Audit Report: https://www.rs-rs.si/fileadmin/user_upload/revizija/1231/Javni_dolg_2.pdf)

Based on available information and findings, I realised that the problem would have to be solved sooner or later. In the long term, all matters must be kept in balance. I understand that periodic imbalances can manifest as mere liminal phases, as stepping-stones from one state of equilibrium to another, but these transitions must be guided both in terms of magnitude and time.

In October 2011, I was the first expert in Slovenia to publish an article on the fiscal rule. In doing so, I initiated a debate on the inclusion of the fiscal rule in the Slovenian Constitution as a permanent way to solve the problem of over-indebtedness. Initial reactions showed a definite interest in the debate. However, they also shove that the matter will need to be presented to the public in greater detail and at greater length.

Assisted by like-minded colleagues, I have since worked to promote this idea, notably by organising free lectures and writing popular articles.

My work, not only within the Court of Auditors, but in civil society, too, demonstrates my personal conviction that every individual must do everything in his or her power to achieve the common good. I am therefore not merely someone who does what he is paid to do in his professional capacity and within the scope of his duties but also someone who, in his spare time, too, strives to make a difference as an active citizen.

In 2012, I was invited to join of a group of experts drafting the new wording of Article 148 of the Slovenian Constitution. Said article was amended in May 2013. After the amendment, the Slovenian Fiscal Rule Act was adopted in July 2015. In addition to the new rules, the Act established the Fiscal Council to ensure compliance with the fiscal rule. Both these measures are in keeping with the provisions of Article 3(2) of the Fiscal Compact (the Treaty on Stability, Coordination, and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union), which commits to defining fiscal rules and setting up an independent institution to oversee compliance.

The principle of a balanced budget over the medium term, which forms the cornerstone of the fiscal rule, is an institutionalised principle since we have used the legislative framework to create an institution – the Fiscal Council – which ensures compliance with the fiscal rule in budgetary processes. The Fiscal Council was not granted the status of a constitutionally categorised institution when the fiscal rule was enshrined in the Slovenian Constitution, but the act establishing it was adopted in Parliament by a qualified two-thirds majority. Said qualified two-thirds majority also applies to the election of all three members of the Fiscal Council. This certainly ensures a high degree of legitimacy, independence, and integrity of the institution and its members.

As an active initiator of the incorporation of the fiscal rule in the Slovenian Constitution and as one of the main agents in its design and institutionalisation, I believe that Slovenia is a strong partner for all other EU countries when it comes to the long-term stability of public finances. This is evidenced not least by Slovenia’s high credit ratings and its low interest rates on government borrowing.

3. What has been your professional experience of international multicultural and multilinguistic organisations or institutions based outside your home country?

Internationally, my first significant professional experience was during my one-month training course in 1998 at the National Audit Office (NAO) in London, UK. After two weeks of training and coaching, in the second half of the training course, I was given the opportunity to actively participate, for a fortnight, in the work of a selected team that audited the UK’s National Bar Association. This exercise saw me turning my attention to the practical implications of the application of some of the audit techniques, the theoretical knowledge of which we had gained in the first two weeks of the training course. The entire training course – the first part consisting of lectures and the second part consisting of direct work in the audit team – was conducted in English only.

I would also like to highlight some further examples of my participation in collaborative projects and working groups internationally:

 Member of the working group Contact Committee – Working Group on Public Audit Deficits (2011-2012).

 Member of the working group Contact Committee – Working Group on Financial and Economic Crisis Measures Audits (2009-2013).

 Member of the working group Contact Committee – Working Group on Common Auditing Standards and Comparable Audit Criteria (2009-2010).

 Member of the working group Task Force on ESM Treaty – European SAIs’ initiative to strengthen the external audit function regarding the ESM (2011-2012).

 Since 2016, I have been actively involved in the work of GIFT – Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, an international non-governmental organisation.

In addition to all the lectures I have given in Slovenia, I have also given several lectures abroad in my career. They were all delivered in English. In addition to English, I actively use German and Croatian in my international dealings.

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

Slovenia does not have such a procedure for members of Slovenian Court of Auditors.

5. Which of your previous professional positions were a result of a political nomination?

The Slovenian Court of Auditors Act stipulates that the Slovenian President invites nominations from among possible candidates for all three seats on the Slovenian Court of Auditors. Following consultation with the parliamentary groups, the President then nominates a candidate to the National Assembly for election. A candidate is elected if a majority of all Members – at least forty-six out of ninety members – vote in his or her favour.

Under this protocol, in 2013, the Slovenian President nominated me to the National Assembly for the post of First Deputy President of the Court. Eighty-two of the ninety-nine members supported my nomination in a secret ballot.

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

In terms of my professional career, I would highlight the following three decisions that I consider most important:

6a. The decision that a balance sheet should form an integral part of the final accounts of Slovenia’s national budget.

In the course of its statutory audits of national budget accounts, the Slovenian Court of Auditors detected, as early as the 2004 audit, the first occurrences of transactions (take-overs of debt) that were only recorded on the balance sheet. While in 2004 said amount was just over EUR 18 million, the following year – in 2005 already – a sevenfold increase in assumed debts was recorded, almost EUR 125 million. At the time, in order to ensure completeness in the recording of underlying transactions and the priority of substance over form, my colleagues and I decided that, alongside the changes that needed to be made to the balance sheet, the expenditure for the acquisition of a receivable or an equity investment should also be recorded and reported in the financial receivables and investments account, and that the income from borrowing should be recorded and reported in the financing account. Despite a reservation from the Slovenian Court of Auditors on the accounts, the National Assembly approved the 2004 national budget accounts, and the government increased its investments in a way that left an increased amount of debt on the balance sheet. Nonetheless, it avoided saddling the national budget with a deficit. The national budget balance sheet, which began to increase the debt balance in a non-transparent way, was not part of the budget accounts at the time, so its balances were far from the scrutiny of the members of the National Assembly. In the years that followed, I therefore insisted that the balance sheet become an integral part of the final national budget accounts and that the Slovenian Court of Auditors audit it every year.

This request was met with favourably by the Slovenian Ministry of Finance and the National Assembly, which drafted and adopted the relevant legislative amendment over the next five years. The balance sheet became part of the 2010 budget accounts for the first time.

In the department I headed at the time, we audited the balance sheet as part of the budget accounts audit. In 2012, the department also audited the balance sheets as part of its audit of the 2011 annual national budget accounts.

In 2013, I was elected to the post of First Deputy President in the Slovenian Court of Auditors . As a member, I was responsible for the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 balance sheet audits, which were carried out from 2013 to 2019. This means that I was directly or indirectly involved in all of the first nine audits of the national budget balance sheet (the balance sheet for the 2010–2018 period).

6b. A strategic shift, which drew attention to the issue of the rising indebtedness of the government and local authorities, and the need to start addressing the issue systemically.

I have provided details in Section 2.c. of how rising borrowing should be addressed. However, it is not only the government that has contributed to rising debt. Local authorities have done so, too. In most local authority audits, we have been able to reveal on several occasions the financial consequences of the ‘unbearable lightness of borrowing’ – if you allow me to paraphrase Milan Kundera, a Czech-French writer. A few local authorities were facing collapse and ‘receivership’ because of misguided projects financed by borrowing. In response, the other members of the Chamber of the Slovenian Court of Auditors and I adopted, in 2015, an Opinion on the Public Finance Issue of the Acquisition of Equity Investments by the Government and Local Authorities and of the Equity Investments by Legal Entities Owned by Them (https://www.rs-rs.si/stalisca-in-mnenja/stalisca-in-mnenja/javne-finance/stalisce/mnenje-o-javnofinancnem-vprasanju-glede-pridobivanja-kapitalskih-nalozb-drzave-in-obcin-ter-kapitals/). The opinion halted any further investment from local authorities in this sense. I therefore believe that this decision, both in terms of its content and its effect, may be regarded as a landmark in Slovenia.

6c. Extending the strategic focus of the Court’s audits to include the Sustainable Development Goals.

Although the Slovenian Court of Auditors operates locally (within national boundaries) in some ways, our thinking and actions are very much aligned with global considerations. When, in 2015, the Member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which combines the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental), as defined by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we at the Slovenian Court of Auditors took the decision to contribute to their implementation to the best of our abilities through audits and audit reports. Of course, the Slovenian Court of Auditors focused its audits on areas in which Slovenia’s results are the poorest.

We also decided on an appropriate way of communicating strategically. After watching the lecture ‘Performance Audit of Preparedness for Implementation of SDG’s, eLearning Course’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpQzARv_Vec ), given by Ms Aránzazu Guillán Montero (a Senior Governance and Public Administration Officer at UNDESA – United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) in 2017, I suggested that in our audit reports we should clearly state that they are linked to the SDGs. In doing so, we further contributed to the promotion of their implementation. This proposal was welcomed by my colleagues. For several years now our audit reports have carried on the front cover the relevant pictograms of the SDG areas to which the audit relates.

 

Independence

 

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

In my view, to the independence of performance contribute both, the independence of an institution (please see Section 7.a) and the independence of a particular post holder (please see Section 7.b)

7a. An institution’s independence

The leading instruments defining the importance of the independence of supreme institutions are UN General Assembly Resolutions A/RES/66/209 of 2011 and A/RES/69/228 of 2014.

The Lima Declaration (referred to as INTOSAI-P 1 since 2019), which was adopted by the IXth Congress of INTOSAI (International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions) in 1977, specifically highlights the importance of the independence of supreme audit institutions, which must be deeply anchored in a solid legal framework from the constitutional level onwards. A robust legal framework is only possible with well-functioning institutions – those that guarantee legal certainty, in particular the possibility of defending their independence through proceedings before a constitutional court. Rule of law institutions can only work well in democratic systems based on the rule of law. The latter two are therefore prerequisites for independent state auditing. In Chapter II, the Lima Declaration stresses the need for both functional and organisational independence of a SAI, as well as the importance of its financial independence.

Three decades later, the Mexican Declaration (referred to as INTOSAI-P 10 since 2019), which was adopted by INTOSAI at its XIXth Congress, defined the independence of SAIs through eight key principles:

1. The existence of an appropriate and effective constitutional/statutory/legal framework and the de facto application provisions of this framework. 2. The independence of SAI heads and members of collegial institutions, including security of tenure and legal immunity in the normal discharge of their duties. 3. A sufficiently broad mandate and full discretion, in the discharge of SAI functions. 4. Unrestricted access to information. 5. The rights and obligation to report on their work. 6. The freedom to decide the content and timing of audit reports and to publish and disseminate them. 7. The existence of effective follow-up mechanisms on SAI recommendations. 8. Financial and managerial/administrative autonomy and the availability of appropriate human, material and monetary resources.

7b. An individual’s independence

The independence of supreme audit institutions is inextricably linked to the independence of their members. They have a duty to ensure that their independence is not compromised in any way by their conduct. How successful they are in doing so depends above all on their integrity. They are therefore required to disclose all potential conflicts of interest – financial, political, or judicial – before, during, and after they discharge their duties.

They are also required, during their term of office, to refuse any invitation or gift which might influence their decision-making or which, in the eyes of the public alone, might cast doubt on their independence, objectivity, or effectiveness. They are also required to resist, during their term of office, any pressure, whether on them personally or on the institution, whether from auditees, politicians, the public or the media, and whether pressure is exercised on the choice of auditees, the choice of type of audit, the choice of scope of the audit, the choice of period of the audit, the choice of audit providers, the choice of level of quality or depth of the audit, the choice of dynamics of the audit, or the timing of publication of the audit report.

In my opinion, individuals, when engaged on an audit, are only required to honour the law and their own conscience, which they use to constantly judge the right balance between the quality and speed of the audit, a factor that will ultimately have the greatest possible impact on the audit.

If I am appointed as a Member of the European Court of Auditors, I will adhere strictly to the principles to which I have adhered in my work at the Slovenian Court of Auditors. I am, after all, already bound to do so by INTOSAI Principle 4 – INTOSAI-P 20 – which requires SAIs to apply high standards of integrity and ethics to staff at all levels, and by ISSAI 130 – Code of Ethics as a whole.

In terms of the legal framework within which the European Court of Auditors and its staff operate, I am aware of:

– the provisions of Article 285(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which stipulate that the European Court of Auditors shall consist of one national of each Member State and that its Members shall be completely independent in the performance of their duties, in the Union’s general interest,

– the provisions of Article 286(1), which stipulate that the Members of the European Court of Auditors shall be chosen from among persons who belong or have belonged in their respective States to external audit bodies or who are especially qualified for this office, and which state that: ‘Their independence must be beyond doubt.’

– I also understand that, in the performance of their duties, the Members of the European Court of Auditors shall, under Article 286(3), neither seek nor take instructions from any government or from any other body.

If I am appointed as a Member of the European Court of Auditors, I will act in accordance with the provisions of said articles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in accordance with the Rules for Implementing the Rules of Procedure of the Court and all their three annexes, and, finally, in accordance with the Code of Conduct for the Members of the Court.

I will treat all auditees equally, objectively, and impartially. I will discharge my duties independently of the interests of Member States and their institutions, political parties, interest groups, or private companies.

I will ensure to the best of my ability that all European Court of Auditors’ audit reports are produced in accordance with the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI). I will endeavour to ensure that findings are presented on the basis of the audit evidence gathered and that audit opinions are expressed on the basis of objective criteria, the content and manner of application of which are clearly presented in reports, and that both findings and conclusions are presented as clearly, transparently, constructively and, above all, in a non-biased manner.

Allow me, by way of a conclusion, to add a few words on conflicting interests. If, in the course of my activities, I come across a matter that may give rise to an actual or potential conflict of interest on my part, or even the appearance of a conflict of interest, I will inform the President of the European Court of Auditors and ask him/her to assign the matter to another Member of the European Court of Auditors.

Even after my term of office ends, I will, out of respect for the European Court of Auditors, in a spirit of collegiality towards all its staff, and in order to safeguard our common reputation, continue to act in accordance with the above standards.

8. Do you or your close relatives (parents, brothers and sisters, legal partner and children) have any business or financial holdings or any other commitments, which might conflict with your prospective duties?

Neither I nor any member of my family has any business or financial interest, or any other commitment, that might conflict with my duties at the Court of Auditors.

9. Are you prepared to disclose all your financial interests and other commitments to the President of the Court and to make them public?

I am prepared to disclose to the President of the European Court of Auditors all my financial interests and other commitments and to make this information public, as I have done in Slovenia for the past eight years in accordance with Article 41 of the Slovenian Corruption (Integrity and Prevention) Act.

10. Are you involved in any current legal proceedings? If so, please provide us with details.

I am not involved in any legal proceedings.

11. Do you have any active or executive role in politics, if so at what level? Have you held political office in the past 18 months? If so, please provide us with details.

I have neither an active nor an executive role in politics.

12. Will you step down from any elected office or give up any active function with responsibilities in a political party if you are appointed as a Member of the Court?

If I am appointed as a Member of the European Court of Auditors, I will be prepared to step down from my current post in Slovenia.

I declare that I am not a member of any political party.

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

Should any audit by the European Court of Auditors reveal any evidence of possible fraud, corruption, or other illegal activity, I would take all necessary measures to inform the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) of the findings, irrespective of the individuals or the Member State involved. It is the duty of the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the audit to inform OLAF immediately if the audit detects any evidence of possible fraud, corruption, or other illegal activity, as set out in Decision No. 97-2004 of the Court of Auditors – Arrangements for Cooperation with the European Anti-Fraud Office. In my view, the Court of Auditors as a whole, and each of its members as individuals, must show zero tolerance in matters of fraud or corruption, whether in its own ranks or among auditees.

Performance of duties

 

14. What should the main features of a sound financial management culture be in any public service? How could the ECA help to enforce it?

The primary principle is the principle of legality. It is underpinned by the principles of effectiveness, economy, and efficiency. The European Parliament and the European Court of Auditors can help to promote respect for these principles through the appropriate selection of audits, appropriate audit reporting, and the appropriate treatment of audit reports. All those involved (auditees, ECA, European Parliament) must be aware at all times that they are at the service of the citizens and that they must do their utmost to ensure the most efficient possible use of the resources that citizens contribute to the common good through their taxes. Hence, all procedures must be as transparent as possible (the transparency principle) and citizens must be given the opportunity to participate in them to the fullest extent possible (the principle of participation). All procedures must also be subject to independent review so that compliance and an independent assessment of their quality may be verified by through internal and external audits. The latter requirement is at the very heart of the European Court of Auditors’ raison d’être, and it defines its mission. Through its independent audits, the ECA ‘holds a mirror’ up to all auditors in terms of assessing the compliance of their operations with all the principles listed above (legality, effectiveness, economy, efficiency, transparency, and participation) in recent audit trends – in particular in relation to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - also with the principles of ethics, equality, and environmental friendliness.

15. 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 further improve the cooperation between the Court and the European Parliament (in particular, its Committee on Budgetary Control) to enhance both the public oversight of the general spending and its value for money?

Effective cooperation between the European Parliament and the European Court of Auditors is key to achieving better performance from individual auditiees and the European Union as a whole. Every community is a reflection of its constituent parts. This also applies to the European Union and all its institutions that fall under the ECA’s audit remit.

The choice of audit topics and auditees covered by the ECA in its annual programmes is crucial for the effective improvement of the functioning of the whole. The selection should be based on a holistic view of the risks of poor performance in each of the European Union’s areas of activity and, within these areas, of the risks of poor performance of individual auditees. In its planning procedures, the European Court of Auditors has to analyse the risks based on all available information obtained through its own audits and from the European Parliament (in particular, the Committee on Budgetary Control (the CONT Committee)), national SAIs, institutions performing other forms of control (e.g. OLAF), the media, etc.).

In addition to probability, the risk analysis should also consider the magnitude of potential adverse consequences. Areas or auditees where risk analysis shows the highest probability of poor performance and the highest damage caused should be given the highest priority for audits. In making the final selection, the European Court of Auditors must consider its own capacity and its assessment of project quality and timeliness. The selection process needs to take it into account that the speed with which the audit report is prepared can be key to achieving impact (e.g. rapid information on emerging damage or rapid guidance on remediation – actions or recommendations), while recognising that the appropriate and expected quality of audit work takes time.

I believe that the European Parliament (especially the CONT Committee) and the European Court of Auditors, in particular, can improve the performance of the auditors and of the European Union as a whole by improving the flow of information as much as possible. This can only be ensured through sound communication – both at the planning and reporting stages – and through good external communication with all key users of the resulting information (auditees, service users, media, the public, etc.).

At the planning stage, the ECA should see the European Parliament (in particular, the CONT Committee) as its key partner in gathering information on risks to be factored in in the analyses underlying the annual work plan. Finally, the ECA’s core mission is to assist the European Parliament in exercising its powers of scrutiny over the implementation of the budget.

At the reporting stage, it is crucial that the European Court of Auditors and the European Parliament (in particular, the CONT Committee) view each other as partners who can work together to improve situations reported by the ECA and to make the rectifications the ECA has recommended in such reports.

My personal view is that hearings of audit reports before the CONT Committee and before other committees, where appropriate and depending on the areas of competence, are key to achieving this objective. The hearing of audit reports before the relevant committees in the presence of auditees can provide strong reassurance that improvements can be made. At such hearings, once ECA representatives present the Court’s reports, the auditees should be expected to explain, in the first instance, why the anomalies detected have occurred, and then how and when they will be corrected and who the responsible parties for carrying out such actions will be. In particular, the auditees must oblige to report to the European Parliament and the European Court of Auditors in due time and with appropriate evidence. If, over a further period of time, any doubts arise about the implementation (e.g. non-implementation or untimely implementation) or the manner of implementation (e.g. inefficient or uneconomic implementation) of the recommendations, the European Court of Auditors will again scrutinise the auditee by means of a follow-up audit and inform the European Parliament of its findings.

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

I have worked in public finance throughout my professional career. My main focus has been on improving the performance of the government as a whole or its key individual parts – systems, sub-systems, and individual organisational units/agencies – whether at national or local levels. My work has always been guided by the underlying principles of legality, first, and the highest possible level of performance, second. As regards compliance with the applicable regulatory framework, my position has always been that this is an absolute prerequisite that must be met regardless of the circumstances. Only once this is in place can we proceed to discussing aspects of performance. I therefore firmly reject the pursuit of any performance effects that go beyond compliance with the legal framework.

My approach to performance has always been that it is essential for any individual or organisation to achieve appropriate performance in the broad sense. Performance in the broad sense consists of effectiveness in the strict sense and of efficiency. I think of effectiveness in the strict sense as the achievement of goals, and of efficiency as the means of achieving those goals. It is therefore my view that every entity should strive to do the right things in the right way because that is the only way to perform well in the broad sense.

I have always followed these values in my work at the Slovenian Court of Auditors and in the local community, as well as in missions I have undertaken in a non-professional capacity. Last but not least, I follow them in my private life, where I do my best to take care of my family, to stay fit and healthy, to advance my personal knowledge, and to grow spiritually.

In my view, the key added value of performance audits for the auditee is the fact that audit reports draw attention both to the bigger picture of good governance and to each of its component parts. Through the poor performance identified and the recommendations made, the auditee is made aware of and encouraged to improve the interrelationship between performance, economy, and efficiency factors, and the need to strike the right balance between them. This applies both to the auditee’s internal operations, i.e. all of its internal business functions, and to the auditee’s external operations, i.e. its operations vis-à-vis other actors in the auditee’s field of activity and, ultimately, society as a whole.

In the case of a performance audit, the first step is to inform the auditee about the coherence of its performance with the plethora of strategic management instruments available, which include all the tools for building the strategic pyramid. Firstly, by analysing and evaluating its mission and associated core values, and secondly, by developing an appropriate vision for the future development of its institution. The auditee is then confronted with an assessment of the adequacy of the process, of the outcome of the formulation of strategic goals, and of the indicators and milestones to monitor their achievement. It is worth noting that the auditee is given full information on all the tools developed for this purpose (e.g. SWOT and PEST analysis, etc.).

Goals are designed to implement the vision. They demonstrate an understanding of the directions in which the organisation should work to achieve its vision. The vision cannot be achieved through a single goal, as achieving the vision usually depends on a number of areas where concerted action is necessary. Goals may be external and internal. They may relate to areas that constitute activities through which the organisation interacts with the wider environment in which it operates, or they may relate to the internal operations of the organisation. The number of areas – both internal and external – on which success in implementing the vision depends is usually very large, but not all areas are equally important. In fact, they exist in a hierarchy and have different priorities in terms of time. All of this must be considered when setting goals. There may be neither too few nor too many goals. Too few goals expose the organisation to the risk of not covering all areas that have a significant impact on the achievement of the vision. Too many goals, on the other hand, expose the organisation to the risk of not being able to manage all the goals set because of the large number and dispersion of data that they need to monitor, analyse, understand, and respond to in a timely and appropriate manner. Therefore, an appropriate number of goals is between 5 and 7.

Goals must also have certain qualitative characteristics. These are known by the English acronym SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely). Specific – goals must be narrow enough not to cover too wide an area, as a lack of focus (given the large number of factors at work in the field) dilutes the chances of success. The common denominator decreases as the number of factors increases. Measurable – goals must be measurable. They must therefore have a numerical component as this is the only way to objectively monitor achievement. Attainable – goals must be achievable. Ambition should be encouraged, but it must be within realistic limits. Setting unachievable goals shows a lack of contact with reality. This approach frustrates actors and is counterproductive. Achievements, in such case, tend to remain below teams’ actual capabilities because of demoralisation. On the other hand, setting goals too low can take us unnecessarily far from achieving our vision in time. Relevant – goals must relate to the vision and the area for which they are set. In the absence of such a relationship, even the full achievement of a goal does nothing to help us achieve our vision. We have been going in the wrong direction. Timely – goals must also have a time element. By when they are to be achieved must be precisely defined. To achieve even greater certainty in achieving goals, intermediate (milestone) goals must also be set as part of the final goal. For intermediate goals, the goal’s time element is linked to the goal’s measurability component. Milestones must be defined in terms of both time and value.

Further, especially in audits where a performance audit is carried out in conjunction with an effectiveness audit, the auditee is confronted with assessments conducted and recommendations given in terms of the compliance of its performance with the legality of economic or efficient operations. In these cases, it is important to understand not only the economy but also the efficiency of operations, and above all their interrelationship, or the striving to optimise them, while striking a balance with (limited) resources available – both human and financial.

In terms of achieving our goals, we opt for the cheapest possible route options more often than not. While good managers are aware that the cheapest options are not always the best in terms of long-term costs, and that the principles of whole-life cost monitoring are already being applied to these concepts, such an approach is not always possible. When it comes to cost aspects, we are on economy territory. But in the life of any project, it’s not always only the costs that matter, but also the benefits they bring. When we compare costs and benefits, we are on efficiency territory. The relationship between costs and benefits changes as the costs change. Sometimes the cost-benefit ratio improves when costs are raised from the lowest level. From the point of view of economy, we therefore move away from the optimal situation, but, in this case, we start to move towards the optimum from the point of view of efficiency. At some point this optimum is reached. After that the ratio deteriorates again. This deterioration is due to rising marginal costs and falling marginal benefits. The decision on whether to opt for the principle of economy or the principle of efficiency depends on current and future financial situations. Financial constraints usually force us to follow the principle of economy. Whichever principle prevails, it is important to realise that both are goal-oriented and geared towards the principle of effectiveness. It is worth noting that sometimes it is necessary to achieve a goal, whatever the cost. At that point, effectiveness is all that counts, and economy and efficiency take a back seat. Such scenarios arise mainly in crisis situations, usually involving existential questions.

Building an efficiency system is therefore about building on an effectiveness system. The efficiency system optimises the achievement of goals set in the effectiveness system. With effectiveness as the initial stage – the planning stage– we ask ourselves what we should do. Efficiency – at the implementation stage – is about how to do it.

In this part of the audit review of the strategic management of the auditee, the latter is subjected to a critical appraisal of its decision-making on the changes necessary to achieve the goals set and the use of appropriate management tools, both at the level of the organisation as a whole and at the level of its individual parts. It is worth noting that it is given full information on all the process tools developed for this purpose (the most commonly used tool is the one bearing the English acronym PERT – Project Evaluation and Review Technique). It is a project management tool where we analyse every single step required, mainly in terms of time, but more important for us are analyses in terms of money (which also include time elements, as delays cause costs). This is usually done using the Critical Path Method (CPM) or the Critical Path Analysis (CPA). If these tools are already used by the auditee, these processes may be the subject of a critical audit review.

At the final stage, the audit may deal with risk management assessment. The probability of achieving the goals or the vision depends on successfully managing the risks. Knowing all the risks, which, if they materialise, could cause the goal to be missed, and preparing and implementing measures to manage these risks in advance, are therefore the only way to ensure that the risks do not materialise and that the goals are achieved.

When it comes to risks, we should always bear in mind that not all risks are as likely to materialise as others. It is also important to understand that not all risks that materialise have the same consequences. We therefore always divide risks into several segments. In managing them, we focus on risks that are highly likely to occur and that are accompanied by highly severe consequences.

What the audit will deal with depends on the maturity of the institution being audited. In our experience of working with performance management, we at the Slovenian Court of Auditors were mainly concerned with performance in the early years, as we came across auditors whose goals were not designed in an appropriate way, and even auditors who did not have any goals at all and for whom strategic management was a complete unknown. We were able to discuss audits of their performance only years later.

It is therefore essential to be aware of the fact that building an effective governance system is continuous process that runs over a long period of time. It is a kind of marathon, which requires a lot of patience and perseverance from both the auditee and the auditors, and which is probably never fully completed because even in the most optimised organisations there are always challenges both from within the organisation and from the environment in which the organisation works. These may be human, organisational, proprietary or financial, but also socio-political, environmental, environmental, or even geostrategic challenges.

In the challenges that auditees face, auditors are always confident that our work can help them. In my opinion, compliance with audit findings and recommendations can make a decisive contribution to improving the performance of each auditee. Wherever possible, it is expected that the recommendations will be implemented during the audit itself. Otherwise, auditees are expected to commit to their implementation, with a clearly defined content and timeframe, and a precise definition of the relevant responsibility holders (what, when, and who?).

In conclusion, it should be emphasised that auditees’ operations are not an end in themselves, nor is their auditing intended to improve the performance of the audited organisations for their own sake. All audited organisations exist to pursue a public interest – an interest that is at the service of citizens. Let me therefore conclude this part of the paper with the final element of the title of the INTOSAI-P 12 standard, which neatly defines the meaning of the whole spectrum of organisations’ performance, and the value and advantageousness of auditing them. This is exactly what it is all about: Making a difference to the lives of citizens.

17. 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?

Already EU Member States’ courts of auditors cooperate well with the European Court of Auditors and with each other, but there is of course always room for improvement.

In the spirit of Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the European Court of Auditors always informs national courts of auditors of its audit visits to each Member State. This practice makes it possible for national courts of auditors to allow their staff to join and observe the work of ECA auditors in their own country. This strengthens the link between the institutions directly at audit team level and facilitates the exchange of knowledge, experience, and good practices, while respecting the independence of both institutions. Knowledge and awareness of the importance of internal control mechanisms linked to the disbursement of European funds is also being strengthened, where both national and European Court of Auditors can work towards improvement.

In parallel, information is exchanged at the highest level through the Contact Committee, made up of the Presidents of the Courts of Auditors of the EU Member States. The Contact Committee is not only a point of contact between the European Court of Auditors and national courts of auditors, but also a key point of contact between national courts of auditors themselves. All contacts at this level are important, in particular for the possibility of planning joint and parallel audits, where two or more SAIs agree to carry out a specific audit jointly or to work on the same audit topic at the same time. Of particular relevance to such audits is the common timetable for planning the annual work programmes of individual supreme audit institutions – including the European Court of Auditors.

If I am appointed a member of the European Court of Auditors, I will work to continue and expand the dialogue, exchange experiences, and collaborative work on joint audit projects, and to present findings and recommendations to both national parliaments and the European Parliament. I see cooperation between audit institutions and parliaments, as well as between the European Parliament (in particular the CONT Committee) and national parliaments, as key to achieving positive change in auditiees performance.

18. How would you further develop the reporting of the ECA to give the European Parliament all the necessary information on the accuracy of the data provided by the Member States to the European Commission?

The primary mission of the European Court of Auditors is to provide the European Parliament with relevant and reliable information on how the European budget is spent. All this is designed to created added value for European Union citizens.

Reliable data is key to making reliable audit assessments. However, the European Court of Auditors can help to ensure its reliability in two indirect ways. It cannot influence data directly because it cannot demand it directly from national governments. It can only do so from the European Commission.

The first way is by auditing them. An audit review, based on a review of available documentation and, where necessary, direct field visits, first collects evidence of veracity of information received and then assesses the consistency of the procedures followed leading to individual payments.

Another way of ensuring data accuracy is through audits of the reliability of data collecting systems, the systems up-streaming and summarization of data, and all related internal controls. The frequency and extent of the use of either method is linked to the Court’s statutory tasks and the findings of risk analyses at the audit selection stage.

I believe the European Court of Auditors does a good job of auditing data. I therefore see potential for future development, particularly when it comes to audits of internal control systems or information systems.

Other issues

 

19. Will you withdraw your candidacy if Parliament’s opinion on your appointment as Member of the Court is unfavourable?

Should this be the case, I will have to reflect deeply on the situation as I am aware of the importance of a high level of trust between the European Court of Auditors and the European Parliament. I am, of course, also aware of the trust that the Slovenian Government has placed in me by endorsing my candidacy, and I will therefore feel obliged to consult with it before taking any decision.

However, I hope that the knowledge and experience I have gained in my career so far, as set out in my CV, and the efforts I have made so far, as reflected in my answers to this questionnaire, are sufficient guarantees of the quality of my future work for the CONT Committee and the European Parliament as to endorse my candidacy for the post of Member of the European Court of Auditors.

As I wrote at the beginning of this questionnaire: ‘Budgets are my life.’ I will be truly honoured and grateful if I am also given the opportunity to deal with a large European budget, as I have in the past with local and national budgets in Slovenia.

 


PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Title

Partial renewal of members of the Court of Auditors - SL nominee

References

13355/2021 – C9-0408/2021 – 2021/0805(NLE)

Date of consultation / request for consent

5.11.2021

 

 

 

Committee responsible

 Date announced in plenary

CONT

10.11.2021

 

 

 

Rapporteurs

 Date appointed

Olivier Chastel

16.11.2021

 

 

 

Discussed in committee

10.1.2022

 

 

 

Date adopted

10.1.2022

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

22

8

0

Members present for the final vote

Matteo Adinolfi, Olivier Chastel, Caterina Chinnici, Lefteris Christoforou, José Manuel Fernandes, Luke Ming Flanagan, Isabel García Muñoz, Monika Hohlmeier, Jean-François Jalkh, Pierre Karleskind, Joachim Kuhs, Claudiu Manda, Alin Mituța, Younous Omarjee, Tsvetelina Penkova, Markus Pieper, Sabrina Pignedoli, Michèle Rivasi, Petri Sarvamaa, Simone Schmiedtbauer, Vincenzo Sofo, Angelika Winzig, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes present for the final vote

Pascal Durand, Maria Grapini, Mikuláš Peksa, Elżbieta Rafalska, Sándor Rónai, Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel

Substitutes under Rule 209(7) present for the final vote

Robert Roos

Date tabled

12.1.2022

 

 

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