The European Union’s Cohesion Policy plays a key role to reduce development disparities between regions in the EU in order to increase economic, social and territorial cohesion.
Cohesion Policy in the EU is planned and implemented within a multilevel governance structure embracing a wide range of stakeholders. Although the Commission retains ultimate responsibility for implementing the EU budget, actual management and control of EU funds and programmes is delegated to the Member States’ authorities. The upshot is a decentralised delivery system with decentralised audit and control bodies. For the 2007-2013 programming period, a formal three-level control structure was introduced at national level for the first time, with the audit authority as the first “independent” audit layer.
The research subject of this publication is the functions and responsibilities of the national audit authorities in the framework of the EU’s Cohesion Policy and their effects towards the assurance level of the EU spending in this area. The analysis elaborates the developments of the tasks entrusted to the audit authorities, comparatively analyses them between 2007-2013, the 2014-2020 and the post 2020 programming periods and links these results with the development of the irregular spending. The main objective of the dissertation is to conclude on whether the evolution of the responsibilities of the audit authorities contributed towards a more robust management and control system for the delivery of Cohesion Policy.
multilevel governance system, single-audit concept, European Comission, financial instruments, governance structure