COVID-19 pandemic has "far-reaching effects" on workings of the EU institutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on the working of the EU institutions. The European Court of Auditors (ECA) is carrying out an audit on how resiliently the EU institutions have responded when faced with the pandemic crisis, and how they are learning from it.

“The COVID-19 pandemic required organisations across the world to adapt their working methods to remain operational, said Marek Opiola, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the audit. “The EU institutions are no exception: they were forced to react and adapt to the new circumstances. How they have responded and what have they learned are the focus of our audit.”

The ECA is auditing the resilience of the EU’s main institutions (Parliament, Council, Commission and Court of Justice) to the COVID-19 pandemic. The audit will cover the response in Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg, and the different countries where the Commission’s Joint Research Centre is situated.

In particular, the auditors will examine whether the EU institutions had comprehensive and regularly updated business continuity and preparedness plans in place, and whether those plans followed recognised standards. The auditors will also check how the institutions’ response developed during the crisis, and how they were able to fulfil their respective mandates while answering the new challenges triggered by the crisis. Finally, the audit will look into the lessons the institutions are learning to prepare for the post-pandemic environment.

This audit is part of a series of audits carried out by the European Court of Auditors to assess the impact of the COVID-19 crisis in the EU. Other work focuses on the EU’s policy response; this audit will look at the EU institutions – the enablers of this response – themselves.

The ECA recently published two reviews of the EU’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, one on health and the other on aspects of the crisis. It also announced that one in four of its new audits this year will be related to COVID-19 and the recovery package.

Each EU institution mainly operates independently. When it comes to workforce management, they are largely autonomous within a common regulatory framework. Issues such as business continuity plans, risk assessments, IT security, working conditions and building management are governed by each institution’s internal rules.

The audit is scheduled for completion in mid-2022. Audit previews are based on preparatory work undertaken before the start of an audit and should not be regarded as audit observations, conclusions or recommendations.

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