Visegrad Cooperation

The Visegrad Co operation was revived in the beginning of the 90's upon the initiative of the Hungarian Prime Minister, József Antall. The Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia) reflects the efforts of the countries of the Central European region to work together in a number of fields of common interest within all European integration.

The former President of the State Audit Office of Hungary (SAO), Dr. István Hagelmayer in August 1991 encouraged the co operation among the SAIs of the Visegrad Group similarly to the above mentioned political idea. The co-operation characteristically takes the form of meetings of SAI Heads organised every year. The main objectives of the co operation are the harmonisation of audit methods, the standardisation of audit documents of the EU and the Visegrad Countries, as well as the intensive exchange of information in the field of training. At their first significant meeting in Velence (Hungary) in 1993, the Heads of the SAIs of the Visegrad Countries discussed the forms of their future co operation and the ways of strengthening those.

Within the framework of the co operation, active relations of mutual benefit have been established. Besides the annual meetings of the SAI Heads, professional consultations and seminars were also organised on different issues, such as Status of Internal Control and the Role of SAIs in Preventing Corruption, Audit of Expenditure in relation to Environmental Protection and Privatisation.

In 1995-96 there were several expert meetings organised in respect of the common subjects of a parallel audit on EU accession related activities of the central governments, such as the operation of the control system (within a ministry and among ministries) and its legal regulation, the utilisation of PHARE and other foreign assistance funds in promotion of the integration objectives, and the usefulness of the national White Paper containing the tasks to be accomplished relevant to the integration. Following the completion of this parallel audit, the SAO reported about the results of 'The examination of the process of joining the EU' in Warsaw in November 1996.

Following a short intermission, upon the initiative of the Supreme Audit Office of Slovakia the Heads of SAIs of the Visegrad Countries met again in Bojnice (Slovakia) in June 2002 to discuss the current status of the SAIs of the Visegrad Group, the further development of the co operation, the application of INTOSAI standards and the tasks of SAIs in connection with the EU accession. At the next meeting in Velehrad (Czech Republic) in April 2003, where the President of the Slovene partner institution had already been invited to, a decision was made to maintain relations among the SAIs after joining the EU.

In the following year upon the proposal of the President of the SAO a new additional member, the President of the Austrian Court of Audit has joined the co-operation network. (Since then the cooperation of the SAIs of the Visegrad Countries is formally called as the co-operation of the V 4+2 SAIs.) In the course of the 2004 meeting, discussions focused on the practical aspects of the co operation of national SAIs with the European Court of Auditors, as well as on the ways of encouraging the execution of parallel audits. An expert meeting was also organised that year with the aim of exchanging experiences in relation to the implementation of INTOSAI Auditing Standards.

At the presidential meeting held in Českỷ Krumlov (Czech Republic) in 2005, the Mission Statement - elaborated on the basis of the results of a questionnaire - was approved. This document defines in details the fundamental tasks, as well as the strategic goals of the V 4+2 SAIs relevant to the Visegrad cooperation.

In 2006, the historical town of Visegrád was the venue of the annual meeting where the Heads of the participating SAIs declared their willingness - in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding - to perform a coordinated audit on the proper operation of internal control systems in the field of EU Structural Funds.

At the forthcoming presidential meeting held in Strunjan (Slovenia) in 2007, the President of the SAO held a presentation concerning the preparation of the coordinated audit on the internal control system of the member states in connection with the Structural Funds, which initiative was approved the previous year. The Heads of SAIs agreed to start the work and to publish the common report in 2008. The audit objective was to examine how the respective national laws complied with Community law in connection with the participating countries activities for the implementation of selected operational programmes co-financed from the ERDF.

The venue of the presidential meeting in 2008 was Graz, where the President of the SAO reported on the experiences of the coordinated audit. The relevant report was signed by the participants (the Heads of SAIs of Austria, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary) at the Contact Committee meeting in 2008 in Luxembourg.

The presidential meeting of 2009 was organised by Poland in Zakopane. Under the agenda item SAIs accountability: submitting the SAI's annual activity reports and being subject to external audit', the representative of the SAO presented the structure and content requirements of the SAO's annual reports. In his presentation he also stressed the importance of cooperation among the V4+2 countries in the development of performance indicators, which enable the comparison of SAIs' performance.

The main topic of the meeting of 2010 held in Sliač-Sielnica (Slovakia) was the efficient management of the impacts of the financial and economic crisis. The participants also discussed the issue concerning the fight against corruption.